FRPs no longer contain carcinogens today. However, fine fibre dusts are produced during processing, particularly grinding, some of which can enter the lungs. This means they have a diameter of less than 3 μm, and a length of less than 5 μm. These fine dusts negatively impact the respiratory tract. They penetrate into the air sacs of the lungs (alveoli) and are deposited there. Breathing in these fine dusts frequently can cause chronic illnesses (COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
To learn about the best way to extract FRP dusts, let’s take a look at rotor blade production at a leading European wind turbine manufacturer. The rotor blades, which can be up to 75 meters in length, are produced here from FRP semi-finished materials, which are ground to obtain the perfect contour and a smooth surface.
The company completes all of this work using hand-held grinding machines with integrated extraction. The grinding dust is suctioned directly at the site of production, then fed into a dust-ex version of a Ruwac vacuum (zone 22) through long hoses. The same is true of other finishing processes, such as sawing and drilling. Intensive grinding is also required for edge processing, which produces not only dust, but also chips and burrs that need to be extracted.
Direct extraction has other benefits as well, besides preventing health risks to employees. It also prevents grinding dust from building up on the surface of the rotor blades and impacting their quality. Integrating this function into the tool helps ensure ergonomic work.