3M Airstream Filters

Discussion in 'Woodturning Health & Safety' started by Frank F, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. Frank F

    Frank F

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    I'm thinking of biting the bullet and buying a 3M airstream system.

    My questions is how often do you need to change the prefilter and cartrige filter?
    I understand that the cartrige can't be cleaned or otherwise reused?

    Can anyone provide some guidance?

    Thanks,
    Frank
     
  2. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    The Airstream uses a really long sock type HEPA filter (over 15 inches long total and filter portion is 12.5 inches long. It is 4.75 inches wide). The last time that I bought one they were about $28 at AirWare America and seem to last at least a couple years. In the seven years that I have owned mine, I have changed the filter twice. I checked the airflow earlier this week and it is still very strong. The HEPA filter can't be cleaned without damaging its filtration capability.

    The "prefilter" is nothing more than a piece of reticulated foam meant to catch large particles and small bugs. Any dust that it captures is purely coincidental. I don't know what they cost, but all that you need to do is rinse it under running water occasionally. One prefilter should last ten years with reasonable care.

    The Ni-Cad battery pack is exceptionally well made and has a very high capacity -- they say about nine hours per charge and I would concur that seems to be my experience. I am still using the original battery pack from seven years ago. Back then, replacement batteries were about $150, but they are now about $250 -- ouch. Why are they so expensive -- they have to comply with all sorts of industry standards for intrinsic safety since they are used in environments such s coal mines and other dusty work locations. In order for the battery to be considered intrinsically safe means that it has been certified to not get dangerously hot if short circuited, not emit any harmful or explosive gasses under any operating or storage conditions, not have any exposed arcing contacts, and not burn a hole in your wallet (oops, looks like it failed that last test). ;) It would not be nearly as convenient, but for woodturning, a frugal person could build his own Li-Ion or Ni-Cad battery pack (4.8 volts) assuming that batteries of the same current rating and A-Hr rating could be located for a reasonable price. By the time that you rigged up your own battery pack, made some contrivance to hang it from your belt, added a on-off switch, an electrical connector to match the one from the helmet, and a charger, you might have spent a tidy sum on a battery system that only has half the capacity of the one-pound battery that hangs from your belt.

    I have replaced the Tyvec face shroud once and it is about time to replace it again as the one that is on the helmet is looking quite grungy. It is also about time to replace the foam temple seals and perhaps the sweat band -- these have never been replaced.

    I would suggest getting the anti-static face shield. They only cost a couple more bucks than the regular face shield, but during dry weather, electrostatically charged dust likes to stick to plastic -- especially clear visors. Don't ask how I know this, but wiping a dusty face shield with your hand while turning is not a good idea -- it will turn a slightly dusty shield into a completely obscured one. The plastic overlays may or may not be a good idea -- they are cheap, but for some reason dust likes to get between the shield and overlay. Whatever the adhesive used on the overlays is, I have not found anything yet tht removes the sticky residue.
     
  3. AlanZ

    AlanZ

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    Bill,

    I have been powering a couple of AirStreams with a small commerically available LiOn battery pack.

    This 4 ounce battery yields about 9 hours in my AirStream tests, and takes only 5 hours to recharge. The greatest thing about this rig is that the battery costs only about $56... and that includes the tiny charger. The 3M battery weighs in at almost 1.75 lbs and has a bulky charger... not ideal for those who travel.

    I'll make some photos this weekend to show the setup... and because the battery is so lightweight it can even be configured to move the battery to the helmet and eliminate the cord to your waist.

    I set up Bill Grumbine's AirStream to use this pack. He's still instinctively reaching for an on/off switch on his belt... but it's not there. Old habits die hard <s>
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012
  4. Bernie Weishapl

    Bernie Weishapl

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    Alan I would be interested in your battery setup. Also on the filters I change mine when the air flow has deminished. I think it was about 2 yrs between changes.
     
  5. Brian McInturff

    Brian McInturff

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    Great timing on this Alan. I need a new battery for mine and have been procrastinating about forking out the $250. Do post it please!
     
  6. KellyDunn

    KellyDunn

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    I am not 100% sure but I think it has to do with making sales of the filters. If everyone did as I they would sell few. I put my shopvac hose up one side. Turn the thing on and run it down. The same for the other side. I see nothing in that filter that me doing that is damaging any kind of surface. Weave is probably the wrong word but I see it as how finely the sock is made for its given micron rating. I use commercial filter socks in five and one micron rating from mcMaster Carr to filter used fry oil for my old Mercedes. If I got it right from their website its the weave or tightness that the fabric is made. and I could be wrong. My helmet is on my head most of the day.
    You can rebuild your own battery pack by buying D cells with solder tabs. There are places that will rebuild your battery packs for a fraction of buying one. I have the smart charger and have had zero problems in it charging. My battery pack had D cells. Not sure if they are all the same.
    I got my helmet from Enviro Safety products more than 20 years ago now I think. I have replaced just about everything more than once. I decided that the fine white scrubber pads would make great prefilters so cut them from a sheet of that. I use soap and water sometimes but hit it with the shop vac every couple days. I change the faceshield maybe every two years. Sometimes more often. The tyvec thing that fits around the face falls apart after a while so I buy a few of those at a time. I am not so scotch, Irish, Jewish, Feringi that I want to hurt myself. I do have new hepa filter for when I think its time. Other than the cost of the helmet upfront I love that my eyes arent packed with dust, i have a nice flow of filtered air over my face, my glasses stay clear. I can work in really nasty woods that without a fine filter would knock my butt in the dirt very fast.
     
  7. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    The actual HEPA filter element is sandwhiched between the inner and outer layers, but it is quite fragile and high pressures will rupture the thin membrane. Our eyes have the ability to resolve details to about one milliradian and the HEPA element porosity is far finer than that. In that respect is is somewhat similar to Gore-Tex which has to be sandwiched between layers of other material. Also, Gore-Tex is more durable than the HEPA membrane. There are also pleated HEPA filter elements available as an option for some vacs such as the Fein shop vac (for a stiff price). The instructions clearly state that compressed air can't be used to clean the filter nor can it be vacuumed because it will damage the filtering membrane. However folks do it all the time ... and in the process convert their $75 HEPA pleated filter to a $10 five-micron filter. The HEPA filter is supposed to be cleaned by gently shaking it and thumping the rubber sealing rings to shake the dust loose. Inverting the sock filter on an Airstream to blow out the dust will most likely convert it to the equivalent of an $800 comfort mask.
     
  8. Frank F

    Frank F

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    Thanks

    Thanks to everyone for their responses. I ordered mine right after I read Bill's first reply.

    Bill, you addressed all the major concerns I had about the consumables. Thank you.

    The only question now is how the tyvek face sheild fits under my chin.
     
  9. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    It depends on whether you have a beard and how full it is. Bill Grumbine does fine with his beard, but a ZZ Top type beard might be a problem. There is an optional rubber face seal that probably is not as comfortable, but might work better with a beard -- with the Tyvek seal, I hardly know that it is there. I do not have chin whiskers so I can only speak as a smoothie about the comfort. There is a soft thin piece of elastic along the bottom edge of the Tyvek to keep it gently snug. When I put the shield down, I usually grab the elastic band to adjust the Tyvek position closer to my throat for a better seal.

    The folks at Airware America were very helpful in helping me set up my helmet for the best comfort and had some "tricks" that are not in the manual for some things such as the way that the Tyvek is fastened to the temple area of the helmet for a slightly more airtight fit.

    I am also curious about Alan Z's homebrew battery pack although I would not be interested in putting the batteries in the helmet. I didn't realize that the battery weighed almost two pounds, but I use a wide leather western belt when wearing the battery which provides plenty of support. With a thin belt, there could be a "sagging" issue. :eek:
     
  10. AlanZ

    AlanZ

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    Bill,

    My configuration actually mounts the battery atop the helmet. That makes it easy to turn on and off, and balances very well.

    At 4 ounces it can easily be dropped into a shirt or pants pocket.

    Also, if I recall correctly, Bill Grumbine doesn't use the tyvek skirt... His head is rather large and the shield itself only comes partway down his chin. He has two rubber strips, one on each side of the shield that acts as a sort of skirt.
     
  11. Dale Bright

    Dale Bright

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    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
  12. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    That's great information to have available whenever I need to have a battery rebuilt. I have several battery operated power tools in addition to the Airstream battery. Buying new replacements is not cheap for any of them. I was looking at replacement batteries for my 18 volt DeWalt drill and the Li-Ion was $130.
     
  13. Brian McInturff

    Brian McInturff

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    Dale,
    So they rebuilt the airstream battery? I will be calling them Monday for sure then. My battery just doesn't put out. Of course it's 20 years old also!
     
  14. AlanZ

    AlanZ

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    Instead of doing photos of the of my battery configuration, I just shot some video.

    I should be finished with the editing this evening, so the video will be available soon.
     
  15. AlanZ

    AlanZ

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    I started a new thread called "Compact battery for 3M AirStream or BreatheEasy" that links to a video showing the battery configuration.

    I hope some folk find it useful. If you have comments about this setup, please post them in that discussion thread.

    Thanks
     
  16. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Wonderful HD video, Alan. Thanks for all that you have done to come up with an alternative solution to the expensive battery pack.

    I did notice a couple discrepancies in the video. The 3M battery that you have may be intended for the BreatheEasy or perhaps an older model Airstream. The battery that I have is a 520-01-02 and is considerably lighter than yours at just barely over one pound in weight. It is rated for nine hours use and can be charged in 6 hours using the smart charger. It states on the label that it is only intended to be used with the AS-400LBC and AS-600LBC Airstream units that use the newer AS-115 Ultra Blowers (more air flow than the previous blower unit). The current Airstream replacement battery is the 520-01-02R01 which is now the only Airstream battery available and is certified for use on all Airstream units.

    I am wondering if the black colored helmet shown in your video may have started out as the BreatheEasy welder's helmet and later modified with the regular visor.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2012
  17. AlanZ

    AlanZ

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    Bill,

    The battery is indeed from the BreatheEasy unit. I got the recharge times from the BreatheEasy manuals. I showed the weight so that anyone with a different configuration could highlight any changes/differences in their setups. That's part of the reason for sharing, there are so many permutations of batteries and chargers.

    The BreatheEasy helmet (up until a few weeks ago) was available in white or black. I have two of the black helmets (the one shown, and one tethered to a wall mounted HEPA room air filter... a great setup). I also have a black welders BreatheEasy rig (a Craigslist bargain I couldn't resist). You can't have too many PAPRs ...I'm trying to breed them...
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2012
  18. Dale Bright

    Dale Bright

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    Yes, they rebuilt the Airstream battery. They had never done one so I sent them pics of the battery and they said they would try. They can also rebuild with an upgrade of NiMh cells.

    Dale
     
  19. jarvis89

    jarvis89

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    filter

    I spoke with 3 M and it lookslike they are in the process of getting ready to replacxe the adflo with some thing else this was last fall. I havehad problems with the head gear pressure in the top of my head so I added a piece of sooft material rubber under it.

    Ed
     
  20. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    If you re talking about the point where the helmet webbing straps cross at the top of your head, I understand what you mean. It is sort of a hard rough spot where the two crossing straps are sewn together especially for those of us who do not have any hair to cushion the top of our heads. I softened this by covering it with a soft bandaging tape made by Johnson & Johnson. The tape is a spun microfiber material that is soft and very durable. Unfortunately they no longer make any surgical or first aid tapes, but I believe that it is very similar to Nexcare Soft Tape and 3M Medipore Soft Cloth Surgical Tape.

    Here is a picture of the J&J tape that I use. It is one inch wide which is slightly wider than the straps.

    _MG_0524.jpg
     

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