A few years ago if someone offered me extracted tools, saying that they could provide dust free trimming and finishing operations, I would have looked at them skeptically and thought to myself ‘really? I don’t think so’. A few years on and now I am the one on the receiving end of the incredulous looks and skeptical responses. That is until a short demonstration shows dust free operations are possible. Trying to convey in text what can be easily demonstrated in practice isn’t so easy, but it helps if we tackle the issues head on.

The majority of composites that are processed are either carbon or glass thermosets, so let's focus on these. Irrespective of the type of trimming and finishing operations and extraction used, the dust produced is highly abrasive. Contamination of any running equipment will just lead to high wear rates, be it bearings, gears or drive chains. When it comes to electrical equipment, carbon fiber dust is conductive and can lead to shorting. Some believe that these issues are usual when dealing with composites, whereas others are unaware that equipment failures and increased maintenance are related to the process. When it comes down to the protection of personnel, inhaled dust is the key concern.

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