Oil mist is the particulate created by operating CNC machines. This mist is, as you might guess, made mostly of oil. The oil can be any combination of neat oils and the smoke they emit, dust, dirt, and emulsions from the machine. Without oil mist collectors, oil mist can do costly damage to machines, computers, and most importantly, workers.
Keeping Employees Safe
Employees are any company’s most important asset. If you operate one or more CNC machine, it is emitting oil mist, which OSHA considers “metalworking fluids.” Metal working fluids can have a serious impact on the health of workers, meaning that filtering oil mist from the air is an important part of keeping workers healthy. Installing an oil mist collector in your shop can help drastically reduce the following negative health issues.
According to a report on metal working fluids by OSHA, exposure of skin to oil mist can cause dermatitis and acne. Symptoms of dermatitis include itchy skin, a rash, often with cracks, redness, and raised bumps or blisters. Once an employee has had an adverse reaction to the irritant, their likelihood of having another reaction increase, even after a smaller exposure.
In addition to skin issues, oil mist can also cause respiratory disease since airborne particles are easily inhaled if they are not filtered from the environment. Exposure to metalworking fluids in the air is associated with respiratory diseases such as asthma, acute bronchitis, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Breathing oil mist can also aggravate existing respiratory issues.
Although you certainly care about the health of your workers, you also have a legal responsibility to limit their exposure to oil mist. OSHA requires that exposure to oil mist be less than 5 mg/m3 over 8 hour workday6. Entities like NIOSH and ACGIH recommend the same limit.
Decreasing Downtime and Maintenance Costs
When oil mist is kicked up into the air by your CNC machine, it eventually settles. It can end up just about anywhere. When it lands, it sticks to circuit boards, fans, control panels, cooling systems and tooling parts and can cause damage. According to Jade York from RepairZone, oil mist can cause damage in two ways, gumming things up and creating overheating problems.
Generally speaking, when the oil lands on parts like fans, circuit boards, and control panels, it eventually solidifies. This makes the part eventually fail. This costs you money in replacement parts and down time.
Once fans and cooling systems become less efficient, the temperature inside and around the CNC machine starts to go up. The rising temps can create overheating problems, eventually leading to a failure in the machine. Fixing these failures is expensive, even without considering the cost of the down time. Installing oil mist collectors prevents these problems, saving money over time and prolongs the life of your CNC machine.
Reducing Headaches Overall
As Benjamin Franklin once said, and ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Installing oil mist filters is exactly that ounce of prevention. Keeping oil mist out of the air keeps CNC machines running smoothly, cooling systems working well, and helps keep employees safe. That means fewer maintenance calls, lower operating costs, and a better environment for everyone.