Jun 28, 2023

Ensuring air quality in the wood sector: key to flawless results

In the woodworking industry, air quality is a critical factor in ensuring flawless results in processes such as varnishing, lacquering and other finishes. Compressed air equipment plays a crucial role in these operations, and it is essential that the air supplied meets the necessary quality standards to ensure high quality finishes and a safe working environment.
When it comes to finishing applications in the woodworking industry, air quality is essential in a wide range of processes. Processes such as staining, sealing and oiling, as well as varnishing, rely heavily on a supply of clean, high quality compressed air. In each of these processes, contaminated air can adversely affect the appearance, durability and overall quality of finishes. The compressed air used in these machines must be completely clean and free of impurities, such as dust particles, moisture, oils and other contaminants, which can affect the appearance and durability of finishes. In addition, a poor quality compressed air supply can lead to surface defects, such as stains, bubbles or irregularities, which compromise the aesthetic quality of the final product.

In addition to aesthetic issues, air quality also affects process efficiency. Contaminants in compressed air can clog machine components, such as spray nozzles, causing blockages and decreasing the efficiency of the finishing process. This can result in lower productivity, unplanned downtime and additional maintenance and repair costs.

Another impact of air quality in the wood sector is the health and safety of workers. Some wood finishes contain volatile chemicals that, if inhaled, can have long-term adverse health effects. Poor compressed air supply can lead to increased exposure to these chemicals and increase health risks to workers. Ensuring optimal air quality is therefore essential to provide a safe working environment and protect the health of employees.

To ensure air quality in the wood sector, specific measures must be implemented. High-quality air compressors and advanced filtration systems are essential to remove dust particles and other contaminants from the compressed air. Air dryers also play an important role in removing moisture, thus preventing the formation of condensation on finishing equipment. In addition, regular maintenance of air compressors and filtration systems is essential to ensure their proper operation and the continued quality of the air supplied.

To find out more about these measures and the importance of proper air quality, we spoke to Mr. Manuel Muñoz, CEO of IBERMAQ GROUP – with more than 30 years of experience in compressed air and industrial machinery – to find out more.

What are the main challenges in terms of air quality facing the woodworking industry and how are they being addressed?
The main objective of our commercial network is to inform and raise awareness of two important and fundamental factors; air quality, to avoid breakdowns in industrial manufacturing processes and the collection of condensates with the commitment to be more and more respectful of the environment. Adapting the installations to the ISO 8573 standard, in its different compressed air purity classes, focusing on 3 main contaminants: solid particles, moisture content and oil content. We approach this with meetings, presentations and open house celebrations with clients in the same sector, emphasising these concepts and conveying their importance. We also plan marketing and sales strategies with our sales team.

What impurities or contaminants are particularly problematic and how can they affect the final result?
The main concern in a very important percentage is humidity, taking into account that atmospheric air contains humidity and the concentration of the latter increases in the compression process, it is essential to eliminate it as much as possible from the pneumatic system. It has a serious effect on the product’s finish, leading to worrying losses in production and service.

Are there any specific regulations or standards in the wood industry regarding air quality in the varnishing and lacquering processes?
This is a very important point and on it depends the finishing and finishing of the manufactured product, the great enemies to fight to avoid the contamination of the painting or varnishing process are:

  1. Presence of oil, grease or silicone aerosols.
  2. Suspended solid particles.
  3. Condensed water in the line.

It is usually advisable to install a dryer, well dimensioned, and a battery of filters suitable for each process and depending on the chemical products to be used in the painting, lacquering and varnishing process.

What measures are taken to guarantee air quality in compressed air machines used in the wood sector?
As with other processes in the industry in general and taking into account the indicated enemies to combat and eradicate from the compressed air network, the first thing we do is a study and audit of the current air quality, examining the current filtration and existing refrigeration or adsorption dryer equipment and its effectiveness, as well as the piping of the network that leads the compressed air to the cabin. The latter is very important, because it will give us an idea of how the compressed air reaches the cabin, so that we can report back to our customers with the current situation and propose improvements in equipment and filtration to achieve optimum quality that will lead not only to the elimination of problems, but also to an exceptional finish for their products.

What technologies or systems are used to filter and dry the compressed air in the processes?
Fundamentally we handle two systems which are refrigeration and adsorption dryers, accompanied by their appropriate filtration and ending in the separation of condensates as measures to contribute to the environment, without forgetting the instrumentation for the control and measurement of the quality of compressed air.

How does your company ensure that it complies with the highest standards in terms of air quality in air compressors for the woodworking industry?
Our control and engineering department monitors all actions, installations and commissioning of all equipment on site. We also carry out the legalisation and registration of all pressure equipment installations. Our company carries out Engineering Projects and legalisation of pressure equipment, being an Authorised Installer by the Department of Industry and Energy of the Regional Government of Castilla – La Mancha – in Category ERP-2 – thus adapting all installations to Royal Decree 809/2.021, of 21 September, which approves the Regulation of pressure equipment and its complementary technical instructions.