What Type of Dust Collector Is Best for My Application?

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What Type of Dust Collector Is Best for My Application?

For most industrial and manufacturing facilities, having reliable dust collectors is critical to the efficiency of operations and the health of workers. This is especially vital for the fabrication of components. How can you determine which dust collection system is the best choice for your facility? In this article, we will consider the common applications and the pros and cons of each of the following dust collection systems:

  1. Cartridge dust collectors
  2. Baghouse dust collectors
  3. Fume and smoke collectors
  4. Downdraft tables and benches

Industrial Dust Collection Systems


Industrial cartridge dust collectors use cartridge filters made of pleated non-woven filter media, typically in a cylindrical or oval shape, to capture dust, smoke, and fumes on their surface. The filter media is a blend of polyester and cellulose, additionally a nanofiber coating could be added for increased filtration efficiency for very fine particulates or a spunbond coating for improved durability under some challenging conditions. Less common materials include a non-stick coating and oil- and water-resistant coatings. Cartridge dust collectors are cleaned through a pulse-jet method in which pulses of compressed air travel through the filters to dislodge collected dust and cause it to fall into the hopper below.


  • Metalworking and welding
  • Sandblasting
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • Bulk powder processing
  • Rubber plants
  • Plasma and laser cutting
  • Fiberglass processing
  • Agricultural feed production


  • COMPACT SIZE. Because pleated cartridge filters have a high filtering surface area, cartridge dust collectors have a low air-to-cloth ratio that reduces the size of the unit. For this reason, cartridge dust collectors are ideal for indoor, small-space operations.
  • HIGHLY EFFICIENT AT COLLECTING FINE DUST. Cartridge dust collectors specialize in filtering out very fine particulates, with efficiencies reaching as high as 99.97% at 0.3 microns and a MERV 16 rating.
  • VERSATILE APPLICATIONS. Since cartridge filters can hold a number of different media types, a cartridge dust collector can be used in a variety of applications with a few simple cartridge changes.
  • LONG FILTER LIFE. The pulse-jet method of cleaning cartridge filters enables them to keep working efficiently for several months up to a year or longer, depending on the application.
  • LOW MAINTENANCE. Cartridge filters are easy to access and can be replaced from the outside of the dust collector, minimizing physical contact with the collected dust and reducing downtime for filter changes. And since the filters last a long time, they don’t need to be changed frequently.
  • LOW COST & LEAD TIME. Since cartridge dust collectors come prefabricated and typically don’t need to be custom-built due to their naturally compact size, they cost less than some other dust collectors and can be delivered more quickly.


  • NOT IDEAL FOR HEAVY DUST LOADING. Cartridge dust collectors perform best in environments with low dust loading (less than one 55 gallon drum per shift).
  • NOT IDEAL FOR ABRASIVE APPLICATIONS. Cartridge dust collectors are designed to filter very light and fine dust particles. Larger particles from paper scraps, sawdust, pulp, pebbles, etc. can clog and damage cartridge filters.
  • NOT IDEAL FOR HIGH-TEMPERATURE APPLICATIONS. High temperatures combined with low moisture levels cause dust particles from metallic salts and similar materials to repel one another. This prevents the particles from clumping together on the filter media and then migrating into the hopper, meaning that the particles just continue to re-deposit themselves on the filter media.
  • NOT IDEAL FOR HIGH-MOISTURE APPLICATIONS. Although some cartridge filters can be made with oil- and water-resistant materials, cartridge dust collectors are generally not a good fit for applications involving foundry sand, oil, mist, and other moist materials. Moisture combined with collected particles creates a sticky sludge that blocks airflow and is nearly impossible to remove through the pulse-jet cleaning process.


Baghouse dust collectors are the most widely used style of industrial dust collectors and tend to be larger than other dust collection systems. They are well-suited for high-volume, heavy dust loading applications and high temperatures. Baghouse dust collectors use cylindrical fabric filter bags to capture dust particles from the air. There are three types of baghouses:

  1. Reverse air baghouses: A compartmentalized design allows personnel to clean individual sections of the baghouse without taking the entire system offline. They can handle high temperatures and the gentle cleaning method lengthens bag filter life.
  2. Shaker baghouses: The system mechanically shakes the dust out of the bag filters, which is simple to operate and less expensive but cleaning must be performed while the system is shut down and they cannot handle high temperatures.
  3. Pulse jet baghouses: The self-cleaning filtration process pulses compressed air to clean the bags and can be performed while the system is online. However, pulse jet baghouses caution should be taken under high-moisture or high-temperature conditions.


  • Lumber milling
  • Woodworking
  • Automotive manufacturing
  • Mining applications
  • Cement manufacturing
  • Steel foundries
  • Smelting
  • Lime kilns
  • Glass and ceramic manufacturing


  • IDEAL FOR HEAVY DUST LOADING. Baghouse dust collectors are best suited for use in industrial and manufacturing settings that require a high volume of material to be filtered on a regular basis.
  • CAN BE CONFIGURED TO WITHSTAND HIGH TEMPERATURES. In some cases, maximum operating temperatures are 250°F and up to 500°F!
  • FILTERS LARGER PARTICLES. Baghouse dust collectors can be configured to effectively filter medium- to large-size particles that are at least 5 microns.
  • CAN BE CONFIGURED TO HANDLE ABRASIVE & STICKY MATERIALS. Baghouse filters come in several different materials that are resistant to mineral acids and alkalis and can filter out abrasive materials like wood and grain dust. Bag filters are also much better suited for the release of adhesive particulates than a cartridge filter. 
  • VERY DURABLE FILTERS. Because they are designed to withstand harsh conditions, baghouse filters typically have a longer service life than cartridges, which reduces the frequency of filter replacements.


  • HIGHER COST. Because baghouse dust collector units are very large and oftentimes need to be customized, their initial investment is high.
  • REQUIRE LARGE AMOUNTS OF SPACE. Some industrial baghouse dust collectors have a large footprint. For this reason, baghouse dust collectors are often housed outdoors or inside a large facility that has ample space.
  • HIGH-MAINTENANCE. For shaker and reverse air baghouses, personnel must enter the unit to replace bags, which requires that the machines are offline and it can expose personnel to toxic dust. In addition, reverse air baghouse filters need to be cleaned frequently and residual dust buildup is difficult to remove.
  • HIGH AIR-TO-CLOTH RATIO. Reverse air and shaker baghouse filters have a higher air-to-cloth ratio than cartridge filters.  This is because there is less media per filter.


Fume and smoke collectors—also called fume extractors—capture and filter ambient dust, fumes, and weld smoke in an operation where limited space is available. There are two types of fume extractors: ceiling-hung and portable.

  1. Ceiling-hung fume and smoke collectors are fixed systems thatsave floor space, return filtered air to the work area to eliminate heat loss in winter, and do not require building penetration for external venting. Ceiling-hung systems include wall-mounted or sliding articulated arms and hoods.
  2. Portable fume extractors are an effective source-capture technology for extracting weld fumes directly at the source. These mobile systems are well-suited for small facilities that cannot afford or fit a large, complex system. Portable fume extractors can also easily travel between workstations.


  • Welding
  • Fabrication
  • Brazing
  • Thermal Spray
  • Metal cutting


  • UNITS ARE COMPACT. Portable and ceiling-hung fume extractors take up little or no floor space.
  • PORTABILITY. Since portable fume extractors don’t rely on a facility’s exhaust system, they can easily be moved between workstations as needed. They can be placed on a table top or mounted on a stand with casters.
  • EFFICIENT SOURCE-CAPTURE SYSTEM. Source-capture technology captures contaminants before they reach the workers’ breathing zone or valuable parts of machinery.
  • LOW INSTALLATION COST. Since fume and smoke collectors are compact and do not require building penetration for external venting, they are much more inexpensive to install than other types of dust collectors.
  • ENERGY SAVINGS. Fume collector systems recirculate filtered air within the facility, preventing heat loss and the development of negative air pressure inside.


  • HIGH-MAINTENANCE. Depending on the application, the filters of portable fume extractors with fume hoods must be replaced regularly. The person changing the filter must also check all components of the system for best performance.
  • PORTABLE FUME EXTRACTORS ARE LESS POWERFUL. Portable fume collectors filter less air than larger systems and are not suitable for a heavy fume load.


Downdraft dust collection tables and benches provide a ventilated work surface where dust, fumes, and smoke are collected at the source. The flat, elevated work surface has a perforated grate where particulates are captured by the built-in vacuum system below. Dirty air is typically filtered through cartridge filters and the particulates are collected into removable dust drawers.


  • Welding
  • Plasma cutting
  • Sanding
  • Grinding
  • Buffing, finishing, and polishing
  • Woodworking
  • Paint fumes
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Composite and plastic fabrication


  • EFFICIENT SOURCE-CAPTURE SYSTEM. Source-capture technology captures contaminants before they reach the workers’ breathing zone or valuable parts of machinery.
  • IDEAL FOR ISOLATED AREAS. Downdraft dust collection systems provide self-contained filtration for small, dusty work areas within a larger facility.
  • ENERGY SAVINGS. Downdraft dust collectorsystems recirculate filtered air within the facility, preventing heat loss and the development of negative air pressure inside.
  • LOW-MAINTENANCE. Downdraft cartridge filters are usually cleaned through an automated pulse-jet process and particulates are collected in removable dust drawers that are easy to access.
  • ERGONOMIC. Some downdraft tables and benches can be raised or lowered, so workers can adjust the height of their workspace in order to accommodate different size components
  • VERSATILE APPLICATIONS. Downdraft tables and benches can be designed to filter metalworking fumes, smoke, wet dust, powders, and ultrafine particles.
  • CUSTOMIZABLE. Downdraft systems are available in both stationary and portable configurations and can be customized without having to retrofit an integrated dust collection system.


  • NOT SUITABLE FOR LARGE OR HEAVY ASSEMBLIES. Downdraft dust collectors are only designed for working on small- to medium-sized components.
  • WORK DECK REQUIRES A HIGH CONSTANT VELOCITY. To prevent contaminated air from being circulated into the worker’s breathing zone, the force of air movement into the downdraft deck must be high enough to fully contain the processed dust.
  • CFM RATINGS CAN BE MISLEADING. High CFMs do not guarantee adequate air velocity at the work deck. The measurement that matters most for downdraft systems is FPM, for feet per minute, which measures the velocity of air movement. This will determine whether or not the bench is pulling air with enough force to protect the worker from dust and fume.
  • CAPTURE VELOCITY DEPENDS ON PROXIMITY. The further the dust collection process is from the downdraft work deck, the lower the capture velocity will be.


AM Industrial Group, LLC supplies and stocks the world’s largest variety of industrial dust collectors. As experienced professionals in the industrial dust collection industry, we can help you choose the most effective and efficient solution for your production application. Contact us today for more information on our vast inventory of used dust collectors!

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