All employers have a legal obligation under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to protect employees and other stakeholders from a variety of occupational hazards.
At first glance, it could be reasonable to think that the main source of risk for people in the Additive Manufacturing (AM) industry is from fume and other emissions generated during 3D printing, but there are also other risks which need considering.
Some AM processes can create non-conductive combustible plastic powder dust which must be safely removed once the process is complete. The potentially explosive nature of this particulate matter means it is necessary to use ATEX certified equipment which has been proven to comply with the requirements of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR) 2002.
ATEX has been a mandatory legal requirement in the EU since 2003. The term ATEX covers two EU Directives - Directive 2014/34/EU which covers equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres, and the ATEX Workplace Directive 1999/92/EC which covers the minimum requirements for improving the level of health and safety protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres. In Great Britain, the requirements of Directive 99/92/EC are enforced under DSEAR 2002.
DSEAR requires all mechanical equipment used in potentially explosive atmospheres to meet EN ISO 80079-36:2016 and EN ISO 80079-37:2016. In practical terms with regards to vacuum cleaners, this includes fully conductive elements including hoses, brushes, castors and wheels, as well as stainless steel canisters and caddies.
COSHH Regulations 2002
Although the 3D printing industry is relatively new, it is widely acknowledged that exposure to polymer dust can be harmful to human health if breathed in or ingested and therefore needs to be controlled under COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) Regulations 2002.
Type H vacuums are specifically designed to safely collect hazardous dusts thanks to three stages of filtration on the negative pressure side of the motor. These include a sealable disposable microfibre bag, a High Efficiency Filter Assembly using a filter medium that is specially designed as a pre-filter material for HEPA filters, and finally an oversized HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) cartridge filter.
Ben Kimpton, Product Manager for UK manufactured Kerstar Industrial Vacuums, comments, “In addition to ensuring compliance with H&S regulations, using a Type H cleaner can also provide a variety of other benefits including less time spent cleaning in and around Additive Manufacturing machines. This is the case for Swedish AM company AMEXCI which recently trialled a Kerstar KEVA 45H and reported a significant reduction in cleaning time.
AMEXCI Application Engineer, Marcus Axelsson, elaborates, “The fine and static nature of the nylon powders used in our P396 machine means it can spread all over the working area including the exterior of the machines, the floor, the walls etc.
“Our old vacuum struggled to cope with the static powder, but the Kerstar KEVA does an excellent job of removing even the smallest traces of powder and means we no longer have to wet wipe after vacuuming – this makes it a lot quicker to clean up at the end of every day.”
Kerstar industrial vacuum cleaners have been manufactured in the UK for more than 60 years - click the links to find out more about Kerstar’s KEVA and KAV Type H ATEX vacuums, or to find details of your local distributor.