What’s common between one of the most legendary video game characters of all time and a fume extractor ? They both suck. [Chris Borge] is not an electronics hobbyist and only does some occasional soldering. This made his regular fume extractor bulky and inconvenient to position where needed. What could serve him better would be a small extractor that could be attached to a clip or an arm on his helping hand accessory. Being unable to find an off-the-shelf product or a suitable 3d printed design that he liked, he built the Kirby 40mm Fume Extractor.
His initial idea was for a practical design more suited to his specific needs. But somewhere along the way, the thought of a Kirby fan popped up in his head, and it was too good an idea to pass up. Several Kirby fan designs already existed, but none that satisfied [Chris]. Getting from paper sketch to CAD model required quite an effort but the result was worth the trouble, and the design was quite faithful to the original character features. The main body consists of two halves that screw together, and an outlet grill at the back. The body has space for a 40 mm fan and a 10 mm charcoal filter in the front. The wires come out the back, and connect directly to a power supply barrel jack. Arms and eyes are separate pieces that get glued to the body. The feet glue to an intermediate piece, which slides in a dove tail grove in the body. This allows Kirby to be tilted at the right position for optimum smoke extraction.
While Kirby served the purpose, it still didn’t meet the original requirement of attaching to a clip or arm on the helping hand. So [Chris] quickly designed a revised, no-frills model which is essentially a square housing to hold the fan and the filter. It has a flexible stand so it can be placed on a bench. And it can also be attached to the helping hand, making it a more utilitarian design. This design has the charcoal filter behind the fan, but he also has a third design for folks who prefer to have the filter at the front.
He now had a more useful, practical fume extractor, but he couldn’t bring himself to discard his original Kirby. So he printed a couple more 3D parts so that Kirby could fit the end of his vacuum cleaner hose. Now, Kirby sits on his bench, and helps suck up all the bits and bobs of trash on his workbench. We’re sure Kirby is quite pleased with his new role.
Even the most safety-conscious hackers among us might overlook protective gear when we’re just doing a quick bit of soldering. Honestly, though, eye protection is always a necessity. And those wisps of smoke, which drift so elegantly off the hot part of the iron, really shouldn’t drift directly into our nostrils. This is especially true if soldering you make a daily habit, or if you use lead-based solder.
And so, in defense of his lungs, [Jeremy S Cook] added a battery-powered fume extraction fan to his custom, concrete-based solder squid. Without proper power controls, though, the fan could easily drain its battery while no actual solder activity was occurring. To tackle that problem, he recently upgraded his system with a passive infrared (PIR) sensor to control when the fan turns on and off. The PIR sensor detects motion, enabling the fan only when it sees busy hands in its view, so he no longer needs to muck around with manual controls.
Despite a large increase in functionality, the design is relatively straightforward and uses off-the-shelf components, making it an accessible project for anyone who knows their way around an iron. [Jeremy] also upgraded his power source to a LiPo battery with onboard charger, which keeps the build light, maneuverable, and easy to get close to whatever he’s working on.
While a simple solution would be a large fume hood or a filter to prevent inhaling the fumes, there are more elegant solutions to this problem. [Mark]’s latest project uses an electrostatic precipitator (ESP) to remove the volatile plastic particles from the air. Essentially it is a wire with a strong voltage applied to it enclosed in a vessel of some sort. The voltage charges particles, which then travel to a collecting electrode. Commercial offerings also include an X-ray generator to help clean the air, but [Mark] found this to be prohibitively expensive.
The ESP is built into a small tube through with the air can flow, and the entire device itself is housed in the printing enclosure. The pictures show the corona discharge in the device, and [Mark] plans to test it over the next few months to determine its effectiveness. He does note, however, that the electrostatic discharge creates ozone, which has its own set of problems, so he recommends against building one on your own. Ozone at least still smells like victory.
For most of the history of industrial electronics, solder has been pretty boring. Mix some lead with a little tin, figure out how to wrap it around a thread of rosin, and that’s pretty much it. Sure, flux formulations changed a bit, the ratio of lead to tin was tweaked for certain applications, and sometimes manufacturers would add something exotic like a little silver. But solder was pretty mundane stuff.
Then in 2003, the dull gray world of solder got turned on its head when the European Union adopted a directive called Restriction of Hazardous Substances, or RoHS. We’ve all seen the little RoHS logos on electronics gear, and while the directive covers ten substances including mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium, it has been most commonly associated with lead solder. RoHS, intended in part to reduce the toxicity of an electronic waste stream that amounts to something like 50 million tons a year worldwide, marked the end of the 60:40 alloy’s reign as the king of electrical connections, at least for any products intended for the European market, when it went into effect in 2006.
You’ll often hear about some study in the media and then — on examination — find it doesn’t really apply to your situation. Sure, substance X causes cancer in rats, but they ate 8 pounds of it a day for a decade. That’s why we were glad to see [Chuck] post a series of videos about 3D printing air quality based on his practical experience. You can see the summary video, below.
[Chuck] is quick to point out that he isn’t a doctor or even a chemist. He also admits the $100 meter from IGERESS he is using isn’t necessarily high-quality test gear. Still, the data is a good guideline and he did get repeatable results.
If you are a maker, chances are that you will be exposed to unhealthy fumes at some point during your ventures. Whether they involve soldering, treating wood, laser cutting, or 3D printing, it is in your best interest to do so in a well ventilated environment. What seems like sound advice in theory though is unfortunately not always a given in practice — in many cases, the workspace simply lacks the possibility, especially for hobbyists tinkering in their homes. In other cases, the air circulation is adequate, but the extraction itself could be more efficient by drawing out the fumes right where they occur. The latter was the case for [Zander] when he decided to build his own flexible hose fume extractor that he intends to use for anything from soldering to chemistry experiments.
Built around not much more than an AC fan, flex duct, and activated carbon, [Zander] designed and 3D printed all other required parts that turns it into an extractor. Equipped with a pre-filter to hold back all bigger particles before they hit the fan, the air flow is guided either through the active carbon filter, or attached to another flex duct for further venting. You can see more details of his build and how it works in the video after the break.
Fearless makers are conquering ever more fields of engineering and science, finding out that curiosity and common sense is all it takes to tackle any DIY project. Great things can be accomplished, and nothing is rocket science. Except for rocket science of course, and we’re not afraid of that either. Soldering, welding, 3D printing, and the fine art of laminating composites are skills that cannot be unlearned once mastered. Unfortunately, neither can the long-term damage caused by fumes, toxic gasses and heavy metals. Take a moment, read the material safety datasheets, and incorporate the following, simple practices and gears into your projects.