Cyclone Dust Extractor
Before I start cutting again, I need a dust extractor to go along with the vacuum. The filter on the shop-vac was clogged with the dust I created from the first run so much it lost suction. Instead of spending $10 every few minutes on filters, I made a cyclonic dust extractor for the same amount. Since anyone with a CNC machine that cuts has one, there are plenty of plans online. I looked at a couple using a 5 gal. bucket and some PVC fittings that looked easy and went with that.
The input to the extractor comes from the CNC machine and to a 90 degree elbow pointed toward the inside wall of the bucket. Then the output to the shop-vac is a single straight piece of PVC pipe, with the end inside the bucket higher than the elbow. Nothing complicated and parts were easily found at the big box store; 2″ PVC pipe section, elbow and two couplings and a general purpose bucket with lid. The hard part was trying to match the two different hose diameters.
After gaining a third section of hose, sacrificed from a junk vacuum in the basement, I was able to make a permanent connection to the shroud and bungee cords. The shop-vac hose hooked to this new hose like it was meant to be, but was a trick to find a compatible PVC piece for the opposite end. I used my dremel tool and ground a step into the inner diameter of a section of 2″ PVC pipe to allow the shop-vac hose to fit into. I’ll still be able to disconnect this section to use the shop-vac for cleaning elsewhere. The last section of hose was an extension kit I bought for a different brand of shop-vacs and was naturally incompatible. One end fits into the vacuum’s input well enough, but the opposite end to the extractor wasn’t near anything. I wound up cutting a slot on one end of a section of 2″ pipe and squeezed the end together with a pipe clamp till the hose fit over. Once the hose was on, the pipe clamp was released and any remaining holes taped over.
With the all the fittings made, they need to be connected through the bucket lid. The two holes were cut with a craft knife and care needs to be taken not to rip the material, because it’s easy to do. I scrapped a lid trying to epoxy the two PVC pipes in place, with both times breaking off immediately when moved side to side. Next I sandwiched the lid between two edges of pipe coupling that worked well. For the output section I cut a coupling in half, then cut through perpendicularly on only one of those halves (just one cut so it stays a ring, but opens wider). The solid coupling half goes on the straight pipe section, inside the bucket. On top of the lid, the cut coupling half can expand around the pipe to go all the way down easily. The PVC cement seems to melt the lid material to the pipe and fuses everything securely (and gives off some bonus fumes). The input side also needs a coupling cut in half, but only the piece with the extra cut like before; the edge of the elbow serves as the bottom part of the sandwich.
Once the glue dried and the hoses were connected, I fired up the vacuum to test for leaks. Where hoses met, I sealed with duct tape. Then sealed leaks in the PVC/lid area with some silicone. While the vacuum was on, the wet silicone sucked into holes. I also revised the bungee cord rigging to hold the hose off of the work surface. With the gantry at is furthest position, the bungee cord was wrapped around the hose a few times and held in places with zip ties. When the gantry moved back to home, the hose naturally coils against the wall and out of the way. From the pic below, it looks like the cord is pulling hard on the hook in the wall, but there is still some slack left.
Eventually, I’ll move both the dust extractor and vacuum in the basement, with the switch controlled by the CNC software. But that will have to wait till I actually make something.