Micro-welding is a skilled labor technique used to fuse together small and intricate metal parts. It requires an expert level of precision and attention to detail, but if proper indoor air quality measures are not in place, the welder will be at risk of illness or injury.
Micro-welding is often performed under a microscope using specialized tools to achieve maximum precision. Unlike traditional welding, micro-welding requires far less heat to join metal components, making it an ideal process for thermally sensitive, small, and slender metals.
Industries That Perform Micro-Welding
Micro-welding is a critical process in the manufacturing of electronic components. Microchips, for example, would melt under the high heat of traditional welding.
The list of items manufactured via micro-welding is vast. Industries and their applications include:
Auto/Aviation – Electronic components such as sensors, connectors, and actuators.
Jewelry Manufacturing – Design, repair, and resizing.
Optical/Medical/Dental – The assembly of devices such as eyeglass frames, medical implants, and dental appliances.
Tool and Die Production – The fabrication of molds and tools.
Air Quality Problems
Like traditional welding, micro-welding can produce airborne pollutants and unhealthy emissions that can endanger the worker. These emissions include:
- Volatile organic compounds (VOC)
- Toxic fumes from metal oxides
- Particulate matter
- Inhalable and respirable dusts
- Irritants that produce unpleasant odors or allergic reactions
Occupational Health Risks from Micro-Welding
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, OSHA, even one-time exposure to certain welding fumes can cause upper respiratory irritation, vertigo, and nausea. Long-term exposure may cause damage to lungs, kidneys, and the central nervous system. Furthermore, inhalation of the most dangerous fumes could lead to suffocation, even death. (1)
To minimize the risk of becoming ill from welding fumes, proper safety measures should be in place. These must include:
- Proper workspace ventilation
- The use of personal protective equipment
- Adherence to recommended safety guidelines
- The use of methods and materials that produce fewer emissions, when possible
- Dust and fume control source capture via fume extraction or dust collection equipment
At AIRSInc, our Extract-All® line of air cleaning products eliminate pollution at the source. While we carry a full line of ambient and central systems, our SP987-3 Portable Air Cleaner is the product we recommend, because it is designed specifically for applications such as micro-welding.
To ensure that your workplace has an IAQ that is healthy for all employees, contact an AIRSInc. specialist today for a free indoor air quality assessment.