Many of the dust collection applications with which I deal involve some sort of abrasive dust, whether it is granite, metal grinding, or marble collection; for these jobs, I’ve found a friend in cartridges. Unlike cyclone dust collectors, cartridge systems don’t usually require supplemental filtration, as they are rated to handle the finer particles that cyclones are not capable of capturing. A wise man once told me that a cyclone is “a high-efficiency golf ball collector…” such is not the case with the almighty cartridge.
One of the most beneficial aspects of a cartridge dust collector is the fact that most have a (semi) self-cleaning feature of some kind. In a reverse-pulse cleaning dust collector, a compressed air line is connected to an intake manifold on the collector. At certain intervals, that pressurized air is released into the filter, usually from the inside, blasting entrained dust out of the filter, allowing the newly released dust particles to settle into a collection bin or dust drawer… What a concept! Depending on the size and configuration of the collector, pulse controls can be manual or automatic. And, when standard pulsing isn’t enough, some filters are designed to be washable…we’ll touch base on that later.
Dust collector cartridges are available in more than one type, as certain applications have specific criteria that the equipment needs to meet in order to be safe, more effective, or more budget-friendly. Although the cartridges can be cleaned, some washed, they will need replacing after some time, depending on what the application is, and how much is going through the filtration media. One can usually expect around 2,000 hours for applications such as very fine dust or welding oxides in a semi-production environment for most standard cartridges. For more abrasive materials, such as concrete or metal fines, wide-pleat cartridges are often used because of their different air-to-cloth ratio (cfm per sq. ft. of filter media), which is ultimately more beneficial to the application in terms of performance, as well as filter life.
Hydro-oleophobic (HO) treated cartridges have been used for many applications involving hygroscopic or agglomerative dust, as they can be washed to increase filter life, above and beyond the standard pulse-cleaning feature. Another popular variation of the cartridge is the Flame Retardant or FR filter. These are, naturally, used for applications where a fire or spark hazard may be present. Although using a spark trap or drop-out box is recommended for spark-producing jobs, they can get rather costly. In this case, budget-conscious buyers may opt for the FR filters in lieu of the recommended solution to cut down on cost while lowering the probability of a fire hazard within the equipment. The FR filters are not, however, recommended to replace the use of a spark trap or drop-out box, so don’t cheap out when it comes to the safety of your employees, or more importantly, yourself. There may be local ordinances to which you should adhere when it comes to safety regulations, so always reference your local and national codes, and consult your Fire Marshal and insurance provider prior to making a final decision, because a wrong decision could backfire