Introduction: Laser Cut Solder Fume Extractor

Picture of Laser Cut Solder Fume Extractor

If you are like me and like to tinker with electronics and fix things you are likely to be using a soldering iron quite a lot. Unfortunately soldering produces fumes that apparently doesn't give you superpower but instead is bad for your health (according to sources). So to cope with this I finally decided to build me a solder fume extractor box.

As this is just a quick fix for short soldering jobs it will not be the best fume extractor ever created and there are some ways this can be improved and I will add some of those improvement suggestions further down but for now lets get started.

Step 1: Stuff Needed

For the extractor I built you will need:

Fans: 120mm, 80mm

6pin Power switch

Dc-Dc boost converter

Female DC jack

6pin DPDT ON-ON toggle switch

Batteries and battery holder

2x potentiometers

hot glue gun

soldering iron

Note that not all these components are necessarily needed to create a fume extractor and one can easily create a more or less advanced extractor using different sets of parts

Step 2: Some Tips With the Design

Picture of Some Tips With the Design

One of the reasons I wanted to build this fume extractor was because I wanted to try to make a custom made finger joint box using fusion360 (f360) and a laser cutter.

If you are happy with my design just download the DXF files included in this instructable and start cutting stuff. Or you could make your own box using your favorite software (mine is fusion360).

Since this is not an instructable on f360 I'm not going to go into any details on how it works but I will give some tips that might help.

There is an addon called DXF Spline To Polyline for f360 that can export sketches in f360 to dxf files that you should be able to use for the laser cutter.

For the laser cutter I used (a random Chinese brand) there was no need to add margin for the finger joints to fit properly.

I designed three sides of the box (top, side, and front) in f360 and then just removed or added properties to these to make the top/bottom, left/right side and front/back.

Get dxf files here

Step 3: Cutting

Picture of Cutting

If you own a laser cutter you probably know best how to use it and its limits and if you don't own one there are plenty of companies that offer to laser cut pieces for various prices.

I used a laser cutter at my local makerspace to get this job done

What kind of material is also up to whatever you prefer and the capabilities of the laser cutter.

Step 4: Assembly and Wiring

Picture of Assembly and Wiring

The simplest kind of fume extractor is just to connect the red and black wires of the fans to the dc connector and supply 12V DC whenever you wish to turn it on.

Upgrading it a bit to next level you can instead use battery for mobility. Since I used 18650 battery I connected it to a boost converter to ramp up the voltage from 4V to the 12V needed to run the fans.

Adding a power switch in between enables you to turn on/off the fans without having to remove the batteries.

For my fume extractor I wanted the best of both worlds meaning the ability to connect a DC source if I had one and using the batteries if I didn't. This required some rewiring and a double pole switch to be able to switch between batteries and DC jack to avoid connecting them together.

See schematic for instructions on how to wire everything.

Finally use hot glue to assemble the box.

Step 5: Improvements

Picture of Improvements

As with some (all) of my creations I'm kind and generous enough to leave some room for improvements and this is no exception.

Some of the improvements that I realized was that there really is no need for the two potentiometer for the fan since these are quite silent fans and also quite weak when it comes to sucking so they are always set at full speed anyways. And also if one wants to reduce the speed of pc fans, using pwm is a much better way to go than reducing voltage like I am now.

As previously mentioned the air flow is quite weak if you are not soldering right in front of the fans so if unless a shroud is added to direct the airflow, I would definitely recommend using stronger fans.

I have two 18650 batteries in parallel for this fume extractor and putting them in series would probably be better to reduce current draw but that would complicate charging since I also added a battery charger bms.

This extractor was just meant to move the fume away from my face hence the open top but many fume extractors comes with a coal filter to filter the particles and that could easily be added to this fume extractor too. But adding a filter will noticeably reduce airflow so a better fan is definitely recommended for that.

The reason for the two round holes at the top is so that I can attach a some flexible ducting to direct the fume to wherever I want, like through the window and outside.

Comments

awawawaw (author)2017-10-17

Nice design for a simple fume extractor. Since I have some spare muffin fans and access to a laser cutter, I may make some of similar design to donate to the local hackerlab.

As for comments about lead and soldering, there are many misconceptions regarding the danger of lead exposure from soldering. Much of the confusion is drawn from the concept of Lead Oxide (CAS # 1317-36-8) which is what forms on the surface of molten lead when it comes in contact with oxygen in the air. However, the risk of lead oxide formation is very low when under 500C. Since tin/lead alloy soldering usually occurs with irons with tip temps around 350C, the risk of "lead fumes" is extremely minimal during soldering.

The greater concern is with the fumes from the flux. One should always familiarize themselves with the SDS sheet for the flux in the solder they are using to determine appropriate ventilation requirements. A high tolerance for noxious fumes does not negate their negative effects to your health.

(disclaimer: 26 year Process Engineering professional in Electronics Manufacturing with responsibilities in establishing safe soldering practices according to industry standards, OSHA guidelines, and just plain common sense)

gm280 (author)2017-09-08

Designing such a setup is nice. And it can be a good idea. However, I professionally soldered for over 45 years. And in those years I never used any fume removal system. I have had my blood tested for both lead and other heavy metals to be on the safe side. I never ever had any lead issue in my blood. In fact I actually had lower levels then what they typical fine in most people. So I still don't use a fume extractor setup. But nice project anyway.

Mixed Output (author)gm2802017-09-11

I can admit that I'm not an expert on the health effect of solder fumes but since this is such an easy way to reduce exposure it feels almost ridiculous not to make it if soldering is something you do a lot :D

Yonatan24 (author)gm2802017-09-10

I get horrible nausea from the flux fumes. I think the flux in leaded solder isn't as aggressive, so...

But if you can protect yourself, why not? :)

About This Instructable

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Bio: I'll post various projects, builds and creation using all kinds of materials and techniques.
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