Chagn Tjer: Solutions to Wood Dust Hazards


2008-02-28
There is an interesting story behind the name Chang Tjer Industrial. This is the second generation of the company's operations, and it is headed up by the daughter and two sons of its president, Mr. Tony Lin. Mr. Lin took the first syllable of each of the sons' Chinese names, Chang and Tjer, integrating them to form the company name. Typically, where back home we would simply call it "Lin and Sons Industrial", Mr. Lin's individual and innovative nature came up with this one: Chang Tjer Industrial Co., Ltd. We will look more closely at some of the innovations that Chang Tjer has come up with along the way. Chang Tjeh Industrial started off 37 years ago in the manufacture of sanders. They quickly realized that dust from the sanders was impairing the precision necessary to build high quality machines, so the company looked to local suppliers for solutions. Unimpressed by the efficacy of what was on the market, Chang Tjeh found a niche, and embarked on its own production line of dust extraction systems. Today these systems rank among top suppliers in the world, and actually surpass the performance requirements of TUV CE, CSA and OSHA. Yet while the company offers a comprehensive assortment of extractors ranging from portable 1 hp models for woodworkers on the go to heavy duty industrial two stage cyclone units with 10 hp of grunt, there is more. Downdraft tables, air filters and all the accessories, as well as an impressive line of oscillating belt sanders and innovative workbenches are offered. No, commencing the production of dust extraction systems did not overshadow the production of sanding machinery. Rather, it augmented it by providing an ultra-clean environment for precision machining and assembly. The massive facility that we visited in fact seemed as dust-free as any modern hospital. And yes, Chang Tjer employs its very own systems in eradicating dust, as it does for thousands of woodworking shops around the world. Hence the slogan, "Keep your dust under control." ------------------------------------ ZEN AND DUST How many people find themselves dragging themselves to work some mornings, in dread of the same old grind? Well it happens to woodworkers too, but we enjoy a perk that helps us get past it, and deep into doing what we do; namely, the scent of the wood. We inhale it, often as deep as we can, and it brings our craft as physically close to our souls as it can get. We literally internalize the essence of what we are working with, mix it with our own essence, and a creation is born. One of the delights in working wood lies in the fragrance this natural material lends to the shop. It is a Zen type experience, taking something offered up by nature, shaping it, and creating another form of beauty. In fact our work serves to prolong the life of the tree in that, it would have died and decomposed had we not used its flesh to make a piece and sealed it against the elements. Often when stumped on decisions such as what grain to match, taking in a long deep breath of the wood's scent is enough to spark the inspiration that we need. The smell of the wood for us could be equated to that first cup of coffee or drag on a smoke, which other people need on a daily basis to help them face the work day. ----------------------------------- THE HAZARDS Sadly, the smell of the wood is the very thing that can kill us. Made aware of the hazards that come with wood dust, most woodworkers would probably cringe to reflect on the different species that they've inhaled over the years. If natural wood dust is carcinogenic, consider the ramifications of composites like MDF or other chemically treated artificial wood substitutes. OSHA takes this reality very seriously. It states plainly on its web site, "Exposure to wood dust has long been associated with a variety of adverse health effects, including dermatitis, allergic respiratory effects, mucosal and nonallergic respiratory effects, and cancer… The respiratory effects of wood dust exposure. Include asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and chronic bronchitis." Cancer? Apparently wood dust is like asbestos, in that the lungs have no way to get rid of it. Being that for many shops, clearing up dust is done by blowing it into the corner with compressed air and scooping it into the bin, there are a lot of guys out there that are cutting their careers short. Chang Tjer makes it their business to eliminate the threat. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- SURPASSING STANDARD PERFORMANCE: The UB3100ECK Scientific evidence that wood dust is toxic abounds. Respirable particles are defined as being less than 3 microns in diameter. This is why OSHA sets the standard at 2 microns as the acceptable diameter of airborne particles. Industrial systems in the US need to filter within this parameter, and requirements are even stricter in Europe. Chang Tjier surpasses these standards by fitting its systems with innovative pleated canister filters which are quite arguably the best innovation to come along in dust collection technology ever. They weren't at liberty to divulge what material exactly the filters are made of, but it's a Japanese composite, which filters particles as microscopic as 0.3 microns. That's over 6 times smaller than OSHA requirements, and well within those set by CE! Further, in order to effectively move light, dry saw dust, green shavings and heavy wood chips, and to prevent these from plugging the system, air velocity in the ducts needs to be between 2,500 to 4,000 cubic feet per minute (CFM). As an example we checked out the ten horsepower dual cyclone model UB210SDC. Chang Tjer's R&D team measures CFM at a lofty 5000 without the bags. Again, well beyond the norm. --------------------------------------- INNOVATIONS A common headache in dust extraction is that the efficacy of pleated filters dwindles with dust build up. More surface area provides better filtration, but as it gets caked in between the pleats, the build-up strains the motor and can bog down CFM, while eventually forcing dangerous particles through. It's not just dangerous; replacement filters cost money! This fact is what led Chang Tjer to this innovation: the automatic filter cleansing system. At startup, a propeller type shaker paddle spins around inside the filter, slightly nicking each pleat as it passes by. This knocks debris from within the hard to reach crannies and lets each extraction session start off fresh, as if it were fit with a new pleated filter canister each time. Both airflow and efficiency are kept at maximum. Ingenious! Along these lines, the company continues to strive toward noise reduction. This year they managed to knock 5 decibels off the sound rating, and they expect to achieve 8 decibels within the year ! -------------------------------------- LOVE FOR THE CRAFT Chang Tjer's love for the craft of woodworking is not limited to its manufacture of sanders and extraction equipment. We got a sneak preview of some of the European style work benches they've been developing. Ruggedly built with solid Birch and Oak, these benches are fit with some very strategically located vices. Added practicality comes with a simple flip of the vice face plate, enabling the woodworker to set it to be flush with the work surface, or protrude up to act as a stop. Clamp holes are distributed in all the right spots, and underneath there are some handy drawers and cabinets for tool storage. Leg height is adjustable. And to ensure that the craft of woodworking continues to thrive on this increasingly automated planet, the company is offering smaller versions for children to use in the garage or in shop class at school. Lucky kids!
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