A Problem with dust

Auto body repair is quite the dusty experience. And, the dust isn’t just messy – it could lead to air contamination.

“A proactive way to capture dust has always been a customer need,” says Luiz Daniel Borges, 3M senior product and application developer. “Normally, air vacuum systems are used, but they are expensive in Brazil and require a lot of maintenance.”

That inspired a partnership between Luiz, Alex Borro and other members of the 3M Brasil Automotive Aftermarket team to invent a dust extraction system. It incorporates a 3D printed material that auto body shops are using in Brazil. This project is one example of why 3M Brasil is being recognized as the country’s most innovative company in a global survey done in 15 countries by A.T. Kearney and published in partnership with Época Negócios magazine.

“The main developers are from different divisions and business groups, united through curiosity and the search for a new technology to solve a customer need. They looked for help to understand and solve issues related to the piece with 3Mers from around the globe, promoting innovation through global collaboration,” said Luiz.

What is it?

Luiz and team visited auto shops and saw that in addition to the expense and upkeep, the vacuums were also complicated to handle and not energy efficient.

In their search for a solution, Luiz and Alex found that some industries were using the Venturi effect – the reduction in fluid pressure that results when a fluid flows through a constricted section of pipe – to extract dust. But the parts were hard to get. “We started to look for a solution that was easy to make, affordable, easy to handle, required no maintenance and could have a flexible manufacturing system,” says Luiz, “and could be easily replicated at other 3M locations.”

Their solution? The 3M Ventura Kit de Aspiração or 3M Venturi dust extraction system.

This innovative system consists of one piece of 3D printed ABS, or thermoplastic polymer material, designed to be lightweight, require no maintenance and could be used with any air pressurized line. It was also designed to work with 3M’s hand sanding system and for dust extraction. “The industry acceptance has been awesome,” says Luiz.

“Additive manufacturing is something that is set to be used right now, and this project is an example of that. This opens doors to many possibilities that could not be attained through common manufacturing systems,” said Alex.