While I’m not entirely proud of it, I can say that I bought my air purifier before understanding how it works.
So, what made me buy my air purifier?
Well, one day, I went over to my friend’s house to hang out. And while at my friend’s house, I noticed that it felt really good to breathe in their room (these things stand out to me because I have severe allergies and a sensitive nose).
And I quickly saw the reason why.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a small air purifier working quietly in the background. So naturally, I asked my friend about the air purifier, where they bought it and quickly got one of my own.
And once I turned on my air purifier, I felt the difference, which was especially obvious after leaving it on for a couple of days. But it soon dawned on me that I had no idea how this machine was cleaning the air in my apartment.
That’s when I did the research.
To find out how my air purifier worked, I needed to discover how it was made. And luckily for me, that information wasn’t too hard to find.
So in this article, I’ll be sharing the process of making an air purifier with you along with answering some questions about how these wonderful machines work.
Read on to learn more.
How Air Purifiers Are Made
While air purifiers might seem modern and pretty advanced – they are actually pretty simple. And of course – they have some modern features such as sensors that increase their functionality – for the most part, a lot of the air purifiers are made up of three main components: the case, the fan, and the filter.
With that said, each air purifier has its own manufacturing process. What’s more, some manufacturers make their process a well-guarded secret. So, it can be hard to determine all the exact production processes that went into the making of your specific air purifier.
However, I was able to find the basic steps in making an air purifier, and below – I will do my absolute best to try and explain them to you.
Making the Case
Many manufacturers start by making the case. Now, there are many different materials available to manufacturers that they can use to encase the components of the air purifier. However, to make it more durable, lower production costs, and create uniform cases for each air purifier, many manufacturers use plastic.
Making the case isn’t too complicated. The process starts by putting whatever raw materials they use into a hopper that they heat up to around 300-590 degrees Fahrenheit to melt the materials. From there, they inject the molten plastic into a mold for the case.
Usually, these molds are extremely precise and made by experts.
This is to ensure that each air purifier has a uniform case that can hold up.
Additionally, the person placing the plastic into the mold needs to fill it evenly to prevent air bubbles and errors during the manufacturing process.
From there, water is introduced to cool down the plastic.
Once everything cools down, the mold opens to reveal the hard plastic case ready for assembly.
The next part of the air purifier is the fan. While there are some manufacturers that make their own fans, most air purifier brands purchase ready-made fans with a small motor and high-quality blades. From there, they fasten the fan to the case using stainless steel screws to keep it in place.
After creating the fan, the process moves on to the filters. Now, different manufacturers use different filters. But today’s industry-standard seems to be HEPA filters, which are advanced mechanical filters designed to pick out very fine particles from the air like dust and pollen.
If you’re getting yourself an air purifier, you cannot skip out on a HEPA filter.
Modern HEPA filters are one of the biggest reasons people are starting to understand and feel the benefits of using an air purifier, so it’s crucial that the HEPA filter you get with your air purifier is top-quality.
Making a HEPA filter starts by passing the raw materials (molten glass or plastic) through very fine pores with a spinning nozzle.
This is what creates the fiberglass threads which are a key component of HEPA filters.
Manufacturers usually create large HEPA sheets with lots of these fiberglass threads that they can cut and shape as needed.
There are several types of air purifiers on the market that have electrostatic precipitators and ionizers.
These are features that cause dust and other particles in the air to fall to the ground so they can easily get hoovered up.
These ionizers are usually made with two steel plates that are parallel to each other.
Manufacturers then run small wires up the plates which are then fed direct current by a converter in the machine. This is what introduces ions into the air and causes the dust to fall.
The Carbon Filter
While a HEPA filter is great for dust and other fine particles, it doesn’t do much for gaseous particles. So, if you have VOCs in your home or many foul odors, a HEPA filter won’t be able to make the air in your home smell better.
That’s why many manufacturers add a carbon filter to their air purifiers, which are used to absorb odors and hazardous gasses in the air.
Carbon filters are usually cloth or foam filled with activated carbon.
After filling the raw material with powdered activated carbon, manufacturers then fix the carbon filter to the air purifier either at the inlet or outlet of the precipitator.
Once all the components are created and ready for installation, the next step in the process is the assembly.
Again, air purifiers are fairly simple devices with just a few components, which makes them fairly simple to assemble.
As a result of that – a lot of the air purifiers you see these days have been assembled by hand. And of course – premium air purifiers that come at a premium cost can be much more complicated and assembled by a robot.
Where Are Air Purifiers Made?
Like most things – the large majority of air purifiers you’ll find on the market today are made in China.
This includes both cheap as well as high-end air purifiers.
Do note that just because a unit is made in China – that doesn’t mean it’s of bad quality because most good air purifier companies use reputable manufacturers with high-end facilities to ensure that their products are as good as they can be.
In regards to the actual design and the concept of the air purifier – that is typically made within the offices of the air purifier company you’re looking at, which could be anywhere in the world. My particular air purifier was designed in the United States and was made in China.
What Type of Filters Do Air Purifiers Use?
Air purifier manufacturers make use of a wide range of different filters. Each type of filter has its own benefits and drawbacks.
However, most manufacturers and consumers agree that an air purifier is only worth the money if it has a real HEPA filter.
HEPA filters are largely considered a type of “gold standard” for mechanical filtration and it’s easy to see why.
You can see HEPA filters installed on many modern-day appliances such as vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, medical devices, and more.
So, if you’re buying yourself an air purifier, I highly suggest prioritizing models that feature a real HEPA filter.
I do urge you to be careful though as there are many models on the market with HEPA-like or “fake” HEPA filters.
While these filters may look legit, their performance is subpar.
As a result of that, your air purifier won’t be able to filter out as many of the finer particles, which a real HEPA filter will usually pick up quite easily.
With that said, HEPA filters can only handle solid particles. They aren’t particularly good at taking care of odors, smells, and gasses in the air.
If you want to eliminate odors and harmful gasses from the air, then you need an activated carbon filter.
Most modern air purifiers have this filter as well since it’s great at absorbing odors, smoke, VOCs, and other gasses in the air that can cause harm to humans and pets.
Generally speaking, the above are the two main filters that manufacturers use when creating an air purifier.
But like with anything, companies try to be innovative and stand out in their own ways – and because of that – it’s not uncommon for consumers to come across air purifiers with different filtration systems.
What Are the Quality Control Measures for Air Purifiers?
The part of the air purifier that receives the most scrutiny and undergoes the most quality control measures is the filter. When discussing quality control measures for air purifiers, filter efficiency is one of the most important measurements.
This is because the filters undergo tons of tests by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and are approved before they can be marketed as HEPA filters.
So, if you see an air purifier advertising a real HEPA filter, you can rest assured that it underwent all the appropriate tests to be called a HEPA filter.
During the tests, the filters need to be able to filter out 99.97% of the influent DOP. If it fails to meet this number, then it won’t be considered a real HEPA filter.
Additionally, air purifier manufacturers may employ different quality control measures to check other components.
This is to ensure that every part of the air purifier from the fan to the case, all the way to the ionizers and other features is up to par.
If the manufacturers don’t meet the set standards, their air purification devices won’t hit the shelves.
So, if an item has reached the shelves and has a real HEPA filter, then you can rest assured that it already went through all the tests to ensure that they do the job as advertised.
Do Air Purifiers Produce A Lot of Waste?
There is some waste produced when making air purifiers.
While a lot of the waste such as plastic runners from the injection materials, the extra sheet metal, and other materials that the air purifiers are made out of can be recycled, there are certain components that can’t be.
To start, there is a fair amount of excess material that manufacturers need to discard when constructing HEPA filters.
On top of that, HEPA filters aren’t designed to last forever. After a specific amount of air has passed through the filter, you won’t be able to use it anymore.
This means after some time, you will have to discard the filter and replace it with a new one.
While activated carbon filters can be recycled, it’s a fairly complicated process and cannot be done at home.
So typically, a lot of the old activated carbon filters just end up in landfills since they require a complex recycling process.
Another potential byproduct of air purifiers is ozone.
There are quite a few air purifiers on the market with ozone generators.
I personally highly advise against buying an ozone generator as inhaling ozone in an indoor setting can be dangerous and result in irritation of the lungs, nose, and throat.
On top of that, some air purifiers with ionizers can also produce ozone.
This is because ozone is a byproduct of particles interacting with ions in the air.
So, if you want to stay on the safe side, staying away from ionizers and ozone generators is a good idea.
But aside from everything I mentioned above, air purifiers don’t produce that much waste.
In fact, these are pretty efficient devices that don’t actually use that much electricity.
Though air purifiers might seem and look quite complex – they are actually fairly simple in nature. And the best thing about them is that they not only do their job extremely well but also produce very little waste.
Most air purifiers are made up of metal, plastic, and other similar materials.
This way – manufacturers can not only ensure longevity but also bring down their production costs to a minimum.