Abrasive Separator Reclaimer
Separator Reclaimer, or Abrasive Separator Reclaimer, prevents the loss of usable abrasive media when the exhaust blower exchanges dirty inside air for clean outside air. This also creates the negative cabinet air pressure required for all blasting cabinets. Negative simply means more air being removed than the blast gun introduces leaving it wide open for poor cabinet visibility with small blowers.
The plus with any separator reclaimer installation is the smaller dust and spent abrasive in the form of carbon, paint and rust is removed from the media creating better cabinet visibility while the unit is being used.
Having a blast machine without having an abrasive separator reclaimer might be compared to the operation of an automotive engine without an oil filter. Think of this as a diesel engine and you will understand the reason behind oil filtration or cleaning. As the media is contaminated with the material being removed from the part, visibility decreases. The operator continues to blast holding the part closer and closer to the view window until the window is etched adding further to the poor visibility. Often eyes simply cross because you can't focus on parts that close to your nose.
Abrasive separator reclaimers are pneumatic centrifuges capable of separating usable abrasive from dust and unwanted worn abrasive. This device allows usable abrasive to circulate over and over inside the abrasive cabinet while unwanted dust and spent abrasive is being removed.
Abrasive separator reclaimers are available in different efficiency ranges that should be matched to the abrasive size being used. Some separators operate with media sizes between 0-150 mesh and others are intended for finer materials of 180-400 mesh. In addition, separator reclaimers are available in different cfm ratings, with larger separators for larger exhaust blowers.
Cabinet visibility is directly related to cabinet air changes per minute. Vacuum blowers are the lowest cfm used for abrasive blasting cabinets. They are used to meet the minimum requirements for negative cabinet pressure to prevent abrasive escape during the process but unless you have lots of air changes per minute, visibility will be poor when cleaning dirty parts. The separator reclaimer is used so a larger blower can be installed creating better cabinet visibility and more cabinet air changes per minute. Most Media Blast units operate at one air change every 1-2 seconds based on the cabinet size. This is not possible with any vacuum blower even with the smallest of cabinets. Without a separator reclaimer all the blast media would be transferred into the dust collector if you simply installed a large cfm blower with the separator reclaimer.
A good example about the operation of a separator reclaimer can be described as follows:
Imagine a truck load of birds ... imagine someone with a baseball bat constantly beating on the truck container. This will keep the birds flying constantly creating floating bird feathers and flying birds ... The object is to remove the bird feathers so you can see the birds inside the truck. We simply will not talk about the other stuff flying around with the feathers and birds.
You can remove the feathers by simply cutting a hole in the truck container and attaching a blower assembly to the hole. Turning on the blower sucks the bird feathers out but also removes the birds. Any bird that gets close to the blower exhaust holes is removed from the truck! After a short time you have no feathers hopefully but you also have no birds. If you use a small blower the feathers at the end of the truck in the dead air spots simply fall down only to be uplifted by the wing beating process.
The separator acts as a net over the exhaust hole where the blower is attached. The net allows only the feathers to be removed but not the birds.
While this is a simplification, the separator acts as the net using an air centrifuge design. Using any blast machine with used abrasive full of rust, paint and carbon is something nobody wants and being able to remove it with a separator is a good thing and not some "not-needed" item. Remember, if you talk again about oil filtration you will need to change the oil often if you do not have an oil filter. You are now throwing away good oil, the more you travel the more good oil you throw away so the more you blast without a separator reclaimer the more good abrasive you will throw away.
Remember to ask the people trying to sell you the machine why the separator reclaimer is not included and when they tell you that you don’t need it, ask them what size the exhaust blower is in cfm, cubic feet of air removed from the cabinet for visibility. If it's 100 cfm they are most likely using a vacuum blower motor assembly to reduce the cost of the blower. Vacuum blowers are meant to pick up a bowling ball, not move lots of air. They are brushed motors with RPM speeds of 6000 and higher so this is not a long service blower motor. The problem is the impeller is only about the size of a bean can lid with tremendous rpm speed!
Buyer Beware ... If the descriptive information on the machine includes items like Includes Abrasive Recycle you might want to know that gravity makes anything fall, that is classified as being re-cycled! When the apple falls to the ground and it sticks to your shoe, it has been re-cycled! Other items like "Abrasive Baffle Plate" are also used to describe a simple piece of steel over the cabinet exhaust hole.
In review it is always better to have more information rather than less so taking the time to read more information when offered is a good thing.