Managers Make Clean Air Top Priority

These shops have made maintaining a clean shopfloor environment a top priority. With Reven Recojet-1 mist separators from Tecnara Tooling Systems, they have been able to do just that with virtually no investment in floor space or time-consuming maintenance.

Case Study From: 3/21/2008 Modern Machine Shop

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Mounting the oil-mist separators high

Mounting the oil-mist separators high atop machines enables shops to avoid adding to already crowded conditions.

The Reven units

The Reven units require no venting or filter replacement. This significantly reduces maintenance time and eliminates the need for large duct systems to remove contaminated shop air.

Bodo Meschkat and Brian O’Rell, each a manager of a busy, high-end California shop, often find themselves battling the clock to meet urgent customer demands for medical and aerospace parts. “I never seem to have a spare minute,” Mr. Meschkat says. However, despite intense production pressures, both find the time to maintain a clean shop environment. According to Mr. O’Rell, that’s because nothing is more important than employee health. Air pollutants commonly found in shop environments, such as oil mist, can cause cancer and other serious conditions.

Mr. Meschkat feels the same way. He owns Meschkat Precision Machining, a Santa Clarita-based company specializing in high-precision parts for the medical industry. Until recently, the shop had a serious problem caused by emissions from the dielectric hydrocarbon fluids used by its wire and die-sinking EDMs. The EDM filtration system adequately cleaned the coolant water, but shop air was still a problem.

“It smelled awful,” says machinist Kevin Stoll. “You tried to avoid the EDM room. Now, the stink and smoke have disappeared.” The solution to the problem can be found mounted atop the shop’s EDMs—two blue and white Reven Recojet-1 mist separators from Tecnara Tooling Systems. The devices use the company’s custom X-Zyklon separation system, which mechanically removes air pollution and toxic substances at the source, in this case, the EDMs.

The X-Zyklon system consists of a series of aluminum extrusions that are arranged to form a network of curving channels. A motor in the unit pulls shop air into these channels, which are about 5 mm wide. The sides of the extrusions are dimpled like a golf ball to reduce drag forces and quickly accelerate the air flow. Because of their density, particles in the air can’t accelerate fast enough to move around the curves. These particles hit the walls of the aluminum extrusions and fall harmlessly out of a hole in the bottom of the unit, while the newly cleaned air is released into the shop.

Mr. Meschkat has since ordered several more Reven units for the shop’s other machines. The shop has experienced rapid growth during the past few years, so Mr. Meschkat says he is especially pleased with the portability of the units. The compact, lightweight devices can be carried by one person, and they don’t require venting or filter replacement. “That makes a huge difference when we start moving things around—which lately has been pretty often,” Mr. Meschkat says.

Mr. O’Rell, manager of Vanderhorst Brothers in Simi Valley, has applied the same solution to the oil-mist contamination problem caused by his conventional machining centers. The shop has a diversified customer base, including independent inventors in Southern California, defense companies in New York City and optical companies in Canada. Like Mr. Meschkat’s shop, Vanderhorst has recently experienced significant growth, leading to the purchase of new machines and overcrowding on the shop floor. The Reven units can be mounted directly atop machines because they cause virtually no extra vibration. With elbow room at a premium, Mr. O’Rell says he likes the fact that the mist separators have virtually no footprint.

“We couldn’t have functioned with floor-standing units,” he says. “We’re keeping ahead of the game by installing more units, and they won’t take up a single square foot of the floor.”

Before purchasing the Recojets, the shop used older, vented oil-mist separators that required the installation of large, rigid ducts on the exterior of the building. “We thought we’d need to install a fan system for the new machines,” Mr. O’Rell says. “Now, we simply mount the Recojets on the machining centers, and they go where the machines go. That’s given us a huge jump in flexibility. Most important, they do the job with no filter replacement and virtually no maintenance.”

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