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A Practical Guide to Dental Lab Suction Design

While there are many aspects to designing an efficient dental lab, proper suction design for dust collection is often overlooked. Keeping your work stations and lab area clean are highly important and without adequate dust collection, your lab can quickly become a dusty mess.

This guide will help provide insights into why a dust suction system design is important and how to go about choosing the best setup for your lab.

How to choose the ideal dust collector

There are a few key starting points when it comes to designing proper dental lab suction. At the core of your system is the dust collector itself. There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing the ideal unit for your lab however with the following core requirements your choice can be easily narrowed.

Design Center - Dust Collection Overview

How many dental lab workstations require active suction at once?

It’s important to note that with a properly sealed and plumbed suction system, the most important factor is how many workstations will be running at once. The more workstations that require active suction, the more power you’ll need from the dust collector.

Keep in mind that the number of “at once” active stations is not the same as the total number of stations. This is key because with proper valving, you can lower your costs and needs for additional dust collection units.

Since this guide is focused on larger setups, we’ll assume your best option will be a centralized dust collector such as our Vaniman V6. Centralized units are engineered to provide optimal suction when the system is properly setup so they are often the best choice and value.

The V6 can power up to six work stations at once, making it ideal for a majority of lab setups out there. Should you need even more active stations simply add another V6 for every six more stations requiring “at once” suction.

For example, we’ve seen over 20 stations plumbed to a single unit since the lab only required 5 working stations at once. Likewise, we’ve seen 24 active running stations that required four V6 units!

RELATED: Central vs. Single Station Dust Collection (Plumbing, Electric Efficiency, and Maintenance)

What type of material will be collected?

Most centralized and multi-station dust collection units can handle just about any material. The only exception to this with Zirconia and other CAD CAM dental mill materials.

While the material itself doesn’t present a problem for a unit such as the V6, it is important to note that a dental mill should be treated as if it requires the suction of about 1 1/2 workstations.

This is due to the nature of the materials and the way most mill compartments are designed. You’ll want to keep your mill nice and clean on the inside so it’s recommended that a little extra suction gets provided to the mill.

Selecting the proper valves

Now that you have an idea of how many and what kind of dust collector you’ll need your next step to be determine which valving is best for you workstations. To ensure the system stay sealed, you’ll need valves to open and close the suction flow to each of the workstations. If you don’t use valves, you essentially have a leak in your system which will kill off the available suction to all the other workstations.

There are primarily two types of valves you can use at each workstation.

Manual Valves

Manual Valves for Dental Dust Collection Design

Just like the name implies, manual valves require the technician to manually operate the valve to open and close suction to that particular station.

You can often find manual valves as an add-on feature for certain workstation accessories or you can even make them yourself if your looking to cut your costs even further. These valves are often inexpensive regardless of where you get them.

The key drawback to manual valves is that they do not power on the dust collector. This could be an issue if the power switch for your dust collector is in another room or far away from the station itself.

Smart Valves

Smart Valves for Dental Labs

Smart valves act to open and close suction to each workstation but also have the added benefit of turning the dust collector on and off. This is quite useful with multiple people working at once or if you have your stations spread across different rooms.

The Vaniman smart system of valves uses a pneumatic mechanism to adequately open and close suction to each area.

The only drawback to using a smart valve is the additional air lines you’ll need to connect to the system. Other than that, it’s a simple flick of the switch to open suction to that station and turn the dust collector on all at once.

Optimizing suction air flow and pipe selection

It may seem counter-intuitive, but flow is a major concern when designing a proper suction system. Use too small of a pipe to your workstations and your suction will be limited (think of using a stir-straw to sip on a milkshake), go too big and the farthest stations from the dust collector won’t get and power.

This is often an issue with many labs as you’ll find things like stations not getting enough power when other stations are open etc.

The goal should be to provide an equal amount of suction to each station while there are operating.

Take for example, a six-station setup with all the stations next to each in a line. If you run the same size trunk line (the main supply pipe) and “T” off to each station using the same sized piping, station six will receive a large majority of the suction while station number one — all the way at the end — will be left with little to no suction.

Multiple Stations of Suction

The answer here isn’t to get a bigger dust collector, it’s simply to neck-down your pipes in the right areas so the the suction can be equally distributed.

Let’s take a look at this same six station setup. If we decrease our trunk line from 3″ to 2.5″ after station 2 then again down to 2″ after station 4 we’ll be able to equally distribute the suction better since the stations further away from the dust collector use smaller piping, which balances out the air flow in the system.

Adjusted multiple station dental lab suction

Of course, each dental lab will have its own unique design and approach. But the concept is the same: maintain a proper balance throughout the system.

It’s important to note that the bench design you choose will also play a big role in plumbing your system. Benches or workstations that are able to have modifications are usually best and offer you flexibility when setting up equipment.

Need more help?

If you need a custom lab suction design, look no further than the Vaniman Design Center. We offer a free design service where one of our staff will help you design your lab suction system and provide you with detailed diagrams and descriptions of everything you’ll need to complete your custom setup.

Simply visit our Design Center page and fill our our questionnaire form, or contact a Product Specialist at your convenience:

Questions About Dust Collection Systems? Book a Free Call with an Expert

…Or, you can view our large selection of Dust Collection Systems here.

2 thoughts on “A Practical Guide to Dental Lab Suction Design

  1. Nice illustrations! Very helpful.

    1. Thank you David! We’re happy to help! Let us know if you have any questions at all. Have a great day!

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