Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Grindbox - Resin is Toxic

Resin dust is like silica, coal dust or other things tiny, particulate and inorganic- once it gets into your lungs, it never comes out. It can cause cancer like Mesothelioma, or simply Miner's Lung just by being in there. Cancer can be fought by horrible chemicals, but there is no way to cure Miner's Lung. It is a slow death sentence.

Sounds dramatic, but that's the truth. Lots of things that we deal with every day can totally kill you if you do something stupid, and resin dust is no different. Arc welders and industrial power tools are just as deadly, but the right equipment makes them safe. With the right precautions, you can make resin safer to work with. One vital way is to wear a properly fitted respirator of N95 rating or higher and make sure it is always fitted and has fresh filters. There are lots of ways to keep resin dust out of your environment and under control.

What I have for my setup is a thing I've been calling the Grindbox. (Pictures coming later!) It's like a sandblasting box used industrially or a chemical hood, except it's built out of hacked together parts and caulked foamcore board because I couldn't be bothered to try to cut wood in an apartment, and wood is heavy. Metal was out of the question. I plan to post images of the thing to my blog eventually but I'd recommend building this thing to serious modders only, since it takes a lot of work and buying a dedicated shop vac and expensive HEPA filters- Also, I have not yet perfected the design and cannot in good conscience vouch for its efficacy yet. I still wear an N95 mask while working with it, just in case. (Mesothelioma is a horrible way to go. Not for me, no thank you!)

What the Grindbox is made up of is a big ol' box with a wide, tilted lid on top that has a panel of clear acrylic in the lid so I can see what I'm doing, and big sleeves and gloves that are caulked into their holes and extend into the box. The gloves are rubbery non slip gripper things that help me not drop things when I am working with the Dremel and they are thick enough to protect my fingers when the toolbit slips accidentally. (Never work with a Dremel without gloves- we like our fingers' flesh!)

The lid is sealed by velcro straps to hold it tight shut when I am working in the box. The box has an air intake made of a hole with HEPA filter over it caulked to the side, which I will have to replace periodically. The air outlet is a caulked on funnel in the opposite side, to which has been sealed a vacuum hose attachment. This is connected to a just-for-this Shop Vacuum that has been fitted with HEPA rated filters that also have to be regularly changed, but this thing sucks up all the dust and shavings from whatever I work on inside the box and does not allow particles back out into the air.

There is also a hole in the side of the box to allow me to place a Dremel in the box, then run the cord out of the box. This currently has a valve-like sealing around the cord made of layers of rubber and Gorilla tape, but I'd like something less kludgey eventually. Currently the Dremel just kind of stays in the box and I open the lid to put new bits in the box, then close the box promptly and use my gloved hands inside it to change Dremel bits.

I am still perfecting the whole thing but it does make it possible for me to do lots of stuff I could never contemplate doing in an apartment. I wear an N95 mask when I use it anyway, and have air purifying filter fans running in the studio pretty much all the time just to be extra safe.

No comments:

Post a Comment