Downdraft Fume Extractor Saves Your Lungs

When you’re soldering, smoke rises from your iron. That smoke is full of a variety of chemicals, depending on what type of solder you’re using, but it’s almost certainly not good for you. That’s why you can buy fume extractors to suck smoke away.

But benchtop extractors tend to suck, and not in the way they’re supposed to. It can be hard to get the extractor to pick up all the fumes, leaving fumes that float into your face.

Over at Other Machine Co., they built up a custom downdraft fume extractor to solve this problem. The downdraft extractor is a table that you work on, providing downwards suction that grabs the fumes. Their table uses a standard MERV13 air filter that’s rated to trap particles as small as 1.0–0.3 μm. Cooling fans provide the airflow, and a piece of perforated sheet metal acts as a work surface.

The table works great for soldering, and is also helpful for working with other chemicals like adhesives and solvents. DXF files for the frame parts are provided, and everything else can be sourced from McMaster.

20 thoughts on “Downdraft Fume Extractor Saves Your Lungs

  1. This sounds like a good addition. I can attest to 40+ years of soldering without adequate extraction. Now I “Have The Lungs Of A Smoker” even ‘tho I have not smoked. And for the last 18 months have been coughing, coughing…. in fact I should be asleep but coughed so much I had to get up so here I am at 1AM (Oz time) trying to distract myself for a while until I may be able to get back to sleep. The specialist says I have Bronchiectasis but whatever it is, I’m convinced it is caused by many years soldering and breathing the fumes. Good idea!

    1. Yes, clearly these people don’t dabble in 0603’s :-) Great idea, though, but since the air filter is a particulate filter and not a fume filter it might not be as effective as the charcoal filters in the desktop extractors. That said I just setup a small fan to blow across my work area and keep the windows open.

    2. buddy of mine simple does cross desk filtration. he has a desk charcoal fume extractor and a couple of pc fans on the other side that gently blow across towards the filter.

  2. Don’t know how often you’d need to replace the filter in this, but here’s an idea. I noticed recently that all the high-efficiency air filters at local hardware stores are priced primarily on filtration rating, not on size. You pay nearly the same for a small filter, as a large one with 4x more filtration area. Nice little racket the filter manufacturers have going on there, huh?

    So when I had to replace the filter in a stand-alone air filtration unit a couple of months ago, I bought a massively oversized one. In a few minutes I cut it down to three filters that fit, saving about $30. I made them slightly oversized for a tight friction fit on the cut edges now lacking cardboard, and along with the unit’s gaskets, bypass is minimized. While some bypass is no doubt occurring, it’s not critical and has made no perceptible difference in the performance of the unit. If it didn’t have those gaskets, I might have tried cutting some aluminum or plastic channel to replace the cut edges, which could be taped on and quickly moved when the filter is changed.

  3. I think if you got enough breadboards to fit on top and drilled the pin holes right through so smoke could still get through would work great as older extractor and prototype table all in one. Would save small components falling through too.

  4. I use an Aoyue 968a+ for my soldering needs. Great piece of equipment, it has a fume extractor built into the soldering iron. From what i can see its one of the few models that has this feature. Anyone else have experience with these or have an opinion about the effectiveness of this fume extractor?

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