When working on a variety of surfaces, we know that the dust generated can contain harmful particles, which can and cannot be seen. Potentially, these can cause major health issues for employees including respiratory problems. 

To put this into perspective, laboratory tests have shown that without dust extraction, dust in the air per kilogram of sanded material is over 200 grams per kilogram, and dust on surrounding surfaces is almost 800 grams per kilogram, so the importance of dust-free cannot be understated. 

As a business, Mirka has been a dust-free innovator for over a decade. As part of its ongoing investment in its innovative product ranges, Mirka’s R&D team is constantly developing products that keep pace with the on-going evolution of the industry to meet the needs and requirements of the user and offer a dust-free haven for them to work in.

Furniture & Joinery Production sat down with Chris Hill, technical sales, industrial, at Mirka, to talk about dust-free sanding and to find out if we are there yet.

How do different types of users achieve dust-free sanding today?

The amount of dust produced varies from job to job, so each user will look to achieve dust-free sanding and a dust-free work environment through a variety of tools and abrasives that are applicable for use on the products and surfaces that are being worked on. 

This need for dust-free has led to users choosing net abrasive systems such as Abranet to enable the efficient extraction of both small and large dust particles that could potentially damage their work and health. 

How important are dust extraction systems?

They are extremely important but I have been asked some unusual questions from users about what they can use. However, no matter what they say, I always tell them that the efficiency of a dust-free abrasive will depend on the volume of air that is sucked through the machine. This is why Mirka introduced the new 1230 extractor that has a suction capacity of 4500 litres per minute, which, when in full flow, makes the process even more efficient. 

Also, it’s important to invest in a suitable mobile extraction system that can provide an effective solution for a cleaner work space, a reduction in prepping and tidying up at the end of the day, and the potential dust contamination of other tools and surfaces. 

However, the system is only as good as the user because it needs to be checked and serviced regularly so that it works at an optimum level. Therefore, it is important you choose the correct extraction system for the job.

How does a dust-free environment affect the work being done?

The first benefit is that with the dust being collected at the source it means less time is spent cleaning up, so overall there is a more efficient use of the workers’ time on the floor because time is money. 

The second is it removes particles from the work surface, which could potentially put larger scratches back into the surface that could lead to rework that will need to be done later on in the process, as users will not see the scratches until the product has been lacquered or painted.

How does dust-free assist the long-term health of the user?

What we have seen is the growth in the use of the Abranet line-up across multiple sectors and applications. We have also noticed that users are now more clued up in terms of their own health and safety by ensuring they do not breath in dust particles when working. 

In addition to users being more knowledgeable and aware, we have experienced that businesses are now investing more time and effort into researching the tools they use in the workshop and our sales team receives many referral calls asking for information on products that companies have been recommended or may have seen at one of the many events we attend throughout the year, which can protect the health of their workers.

How has the evolution of abrasives assisted the dust-free revolution?

Abrasives are constantly changing as new processes are developed and Mirka is committed to remaining at the cutting edge of the industry. With this evolution, we have noticed that users are now asking for coarser grit abrasives that provide a dust-free environment. 

This led our R&D department to expand the range of Abranet products to include Abranet ACE HD, which now means users have access to a wide variety of grits, from coarse to fine, that can handle the jobs put in front of them, while offering the dust-free sanding experience that Mirka’s products have become synonymous with.