Fume Extraction Unit for soldering applications - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Fume Extraction Unit for soldering applications

Author: ralphjy

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Workshop Tools

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: Hakko FA430-16

What were the biggest problems encountered?: The User Manual that came with the product had the correct unit on the cover, but inside it contained the Technical Data and instructions for other Zero Smog units instead of the EL model.

Detailed Review:

The Weller Zero Smog EL Solder Fume Extraction Kit

 

 

  • Introduction

I applied for this roadtest because I wanted to solve a problem that I have with fumes generated from my 3D printer (an open-frame Velleman K8200).  I don't do a lot of soldering, so this unit would be somewhat of an overkill for my soldering station (that being said, I really ought to get something for that - this unit is portable enough that I could move it or if I relocate my soldering station - I could use a second hose from this unit).  My workspace is a non-ventilated room with about 450 cubic feet (12.7 cubic meters) of volume.  It does have a single window, but this is Oregon so an exhaust fan in the window can be problematic.  I've tolerated fumes when printing with PLA but have not printed with ABS because of the relative toxicity of the fumes.  This unit seemed like an ideal solution since it is self-contained and doesn't require external venting.

 

  • Unboxing and setup

The unit arrived in a heavyweight packing box (23"W x 16"D x 24"H). Shipping weight was 26.4lbs.

The unit and accessories were nicely packed with foam inserts.  Everything arrived in good condition.

Unit dimensions as measured: 13"W x 13"D x 17"H (height is to top of hose inlet), Spec: 13.2"L x 12.99"W x 17.5"H

Unit weight as measured: 20.4lbs, Spec: 18.96lbs (my measured weight included one hose and nozzle)

The fume extractor top has input ports for two stations, one covered with a cap.

 

Accessories included:

One hose assembly with input nozzle.

User documentation (in over 20 languages!)

Power cord

Wall mounting bracket for hose

The hose part number is 0F15  (Arm, Extraction, Adjustable, 60mm, 1.5m)

An extra hose (for second station) is available for $132.30

Link: http://www.newark.com/weller/0f15/extraction-arm-adjustable-60mm/dp/74Y6448?COM=RoadTestReviews

I discovered that the link to the hose datasheet on the Newark site is incorrect: http://www.farnell.com/datasheets/2293463.pdf

 

The input nozzle part number is ALFA (Nozzle, Funnel, for use with Volume Fume Extraction Systems) but I found that the Newark site must not be correct as the price shown is $728.00!!!!!

Link: http://www.newark.com/weller/t0053664299/alfa-funnel-nozzle/dp/40Y7446?st=weller%20alfa

 

So, it looks like there are problems in general with the Newark site with respect to the Weller Fume Extractor products.  I think one of the issues is that the accessories were carried forward from legacy products and descriptions weren't updated.  E.G it looks like the correct input nozzle is part number 0053657399 (Nozzle, Funnel, for use with WFE2S/WFE2ES Extraction Systems) which costs $41.58.

Link: http://www.newark.com/weller/0053657399/funnel-nozzle-fume-extraction/dp/51R5766

 

The next problem that I encountered (because I believe in RTFM) is that the User Manual provided had the correct unit (Zero Smog EL) on the cover, but the Technical Data and instructions inside referred to only the Zero Smog 4V, 5V, and 20T units. I did locate the correct spec sheet on the Weller website: http://www.weller-toolsus.com/MagentoShare/media/mannuals/ATG-2713%20Zero%20Smog%20EL%20info%20sheet.pdf

 

I don't see a category for ranking documentation so I'll take a couple of points off of the "Support was available" category.

 

There is a provision for a remote switch that was not included.

The switch can be purchased for $22.00.  From the description it has a 2m cord which is a good length for most workbenches.

Link: http://www.newark.com/weller/ft91000033/remote-switch-on-off-2m-cable/dp/84Y3755?COM=RoadTestReviews

There really isn't a good description or spec of the switch (and I didn't buy one) but it appears to only provide remote on/off functionality.  The unit has four fan speeds, so it would have been nice if the remote switch could also change speeds.

 

Test setup:

For my testing, I located the Fume extractor under my 3D printer table and set the intake nozzle to the left.  The hose is made of hard plastic segments that are configured to be expandable and rigid enough to maintain a shape.  The collapsed length is about 1m and the extended length is 1.5m (59").

 

  • Performance

Measurements:

I wanted to make the following set of measurements for the 4 fan speeds:

Noise level

Power

Air Flow Rate

 

       For the noise measurements I used the Decibel X app running on my iPad.

   

 

       For power measurements I used a Kill A Watt P3 meter that will measure AC voltage, current, watts and VA.

    

 

       For air flow measurements I used a Proster PSTTL090 Anemometer.

   

 

       Measurements for different fan speeds:

       Filter performance:

To measure the performance of the filter I decided to try using a VOC sensor.  I've never used a VOC sensor before so I thought it would be a good learning experience.  I used a SparkFun Air Quality Breakout - CCS811.

        Link: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/14193.   I set this up on a breadboard and a RPi 3.

   

SparkFun only has Arduino libraries at this time, so I used the Adafruit RPi Python library.  The only change required was to change the I2C address from 0x5A to 0x5B.  The example program only logs to the console which was sufficient for my testing.  In the future I'll modify the program to send the data to Thingspeak so that I can do plots.  The program logs CO2 and TVOC levels and temperature (I didn't have the optional thermistor installed).

       For my test case I printed a thin 6 layer shim with white PLA filament.  The test job took about 2 hours to run.

 

       VOC data:

      

The readings stabilized after 50 minutes.  I was surprised by the small magnitude of change in the data.  Since I don't have a reference point I think that while I can detect differences I won't really be able to quantify the results.

   

I then ran the test running at the highest fan speed.  The readings gave me an interesting result.  The TVOC readings stayed below 10ppb while the printer was running but the readings spiked above 20ppb when I went into the room to check on the printer.  It appears that because of the low flow rate away from the nozzle that a disturbance to the local air mass takes time to overcome.  I noticed that it took a few minutes after I left the room for the readings to drop below 10ppb.

 

  • Summary

The fume extractor is a well constructed unit.  The unit appears to perform within its rated specs.  The noise level that I measured was somewhat higher than the 55dBA in the spec (spec is at typical operating speed - not sure which speed that is), but it is reasonable for a workshop environment (my 3D printer is 55dBA when printing, up to 70dBA with rapid excursions).  The one odd characteristic that I noticed is that the fan takes 4-5 seconds to start after the power switch is turned on.

 

The one feature that I could not verify is the filter alarm.  I tried to simulate a clogged filter by impeding the input airflow with my hand.  I could get the fan to struggle (current increased by 15%) but the alarm did not go on.  I did not want to damage the unit so I didn't totally block the airflow.  I took a point off of the "Product Performed to Expectations" category because of that.

 

The primary HEPA/carbon foam filter is a large sealed unit that is reasonably expensive ($120).  Link: http://www.newark.com/weller/t0058762701/particle-prefilter-set-wfe2eszs2v/dp/93X9408?COM=RoadTestReviews

I imagine that the construction and cost is required to meet the filtering specification.  My wife asked me a question that I had not thought about.  Is the replaceable filter unit considered hazardous waste when you dispose of it?  I would guess that it is.

 

My primary application for the Fume Extractor is to support my 3D printer and to allow me to print with ABS in a closed environment.  I think that I'll need to research that more.  And I realize that I will at least need to build a baffle to improve the air flow rate at the printer (a full enclosure with an intake baffle would be ideal).  For now the extractor does improve the air quality in the room and I do have the ability to monitor the printer remotely using an ipcam so that I can avoid disturbing the air around the printer.  My experiment with the VOC sensor was inconclusive.  I have more learning to do with that.  Not even sure my readings were somewhat accurate.

 

Thanks to Weller and Element14 for allowing me to roadtest this unit.

Anonymous
  •   wrote:

     

    Interesting alternative use of the extractor. Did the manufacturer advise the suitability of the filter within the unit for a 3D printing application?

     

    I would expect the manufacturer would not comment on this as they would have to test it for this purpose to ensure it did work in this application if they did. I guess you'd need to research the size of the airborne particulates generated by 3D printing and compare that to the particulates generated when soldering and also look at the capabilities of the HEPA filters. I think they do filter down to very small particulates though so there is a reasonable chance it might work. More research is definitely required there though I think.

  • Interesting alternative use of the extractor. Did the manufacturer advise the suitability of the filter within the unit for a 3D printing application?

     

    I guess having a 3D printer, you will be in a good position to make your own baffles for use with the printer or solder station.

     

    Kind regards

  • Hey Ralph,

     

    Nice review. Using it as an extractor for a 3D printer is an interesting idea. I do find that my 3D printer makes being in my office particularly unpleasant, especially when printing ABS, so using a unit like this to filter the fumes from it is possibly something worth looking into. I'd actually want to be filtering solder station fumes too so as this unit is suitable for extraction from two soldering stations I guess I could get a second hoze kit and use one for the soldering station and one for the 3D printer. I think this is definitely something I will consider investing in sooner rather than later.

     

    Best Regards,


    Rachael