Dust Free or Not Dust Free

Dust free or not dust free, that is the question. Yes, I know, sorry about that.

I am hearing alot of talk at the moment about dust free polishing.  Indeed, we have spent alot of time over the last couple of years playing with various ways of making dust free polishing work in a practical manner.

Mirka, who have recently decided that glass polishing is a valid market (but that’s a different conversation) have released a dust free hood, designed to work with their range of Mirka polishers.  There are a number of other dust free hoods available on the interweb, all basically the same thing, a hood that fits over the polishing pad with a hoover attachment to suck the dust away.

The hoods that we have tried work for the most part, but there are a few fundimental issues.

Using a hood restricts you from polishing around the edge of a unit.  The hood for a 125mm backing pad is 150mm leaving an area of 25mm of unworkable area and that is if you are an experienced polisher.

Another comment I hear alot it that as most hoods are black plastic, you cannot see the area you are working on.  I’m not so sure about this point as I tend to polish as much by feel as by sight and you can’t see through a backing pad anyway.  We did find a clear plastic backing pad, but the spring mountings were all wrong and by the time we adjusted them to react correctly, it was really difficult to find the right seating point for the springs, they have to be adjusted for each job, it takes ages and is just not practical.

If you are working in the middle of a large unit, on ground level, below head height, the dust free systems currently available work well, in ideal situations, catching upto 95% of the dust generated.  However, if are working off a tower, scaffold or cherry picker you need a bloody long hoover hose.  We have tried a backpack hoover and although it works, it is very cumbersum and uncomfortable and when working on your knees or bending over, it knocks against the glass, restricting your movements.  It also makes you look like a ghostbuster!

I guess the real question is considering it is only practical in a certain situations, is it really practical to invest in dust free systems, when a good dust mask, a good hoover, the occassional Zipwall and a little effort cleaning up has the same result.

If anyone else has had good results with dust free systems, I’d love to hear about it.