Setting up a Soldering Environment in a shared office building


I am looking at setting up a small hardware lab in an office building including a 3D Printer and small soldering work station and looking for tips and tricks. The location I have in mind is fully enclosed (except for the doorway) and the ventilation situation is unknown (I think it might have been a photocopy room at one stage)

I don’t anticipate soldering massively - it’s not my primary task, but occasionally I need to modify a board, add/replace connectors, header pins… that kind of thing. I am considering to make it into a bit of a Makerspace as well for colleagues

With this in mind, I am looking for recommendations so as to be prepared for a discussion with any building OH&S people about health (fume extraction) and also fire safety etc. For home I have my solder station with a heat proof mat, small fume extractor - however since this is a commercial environment I am adding a bit more caution and so any advice is greatly appreciated.

I would get the fancy desktop extractors, such as ZEROSMOGELKIT1N (~$1k). It’s still way cheaper than the cost of building modifications, which is how I think they price them :wink:

You can get a nice remote switch too (not visible in the above) which lets you turn it on/off from right next to your iron. But if that doesn’t satisfy OH&S I don’t think anything will!

There are a few other brands/types of those, but same idea. The hose in my case was small enough it also fit through your standard “desk hole”, but if you’ve got a proper workbench can just come up the back.


I suspect the real risk is odor triggering complaints. Get a fume extractor for the soldering, and a HEPA filter for the 3D printer. It won’t eliminate odors, but should keep them to a low enough level to avoid complaints.

The risk with asking H&S/OSHA questions is that if there are not answers, you will have to wait until there are. Look at the MSDS sheets for the materials (solder and flux) and you should see that any anticipated exposure is way below threshold. Have them handy for the safety folks if they ask, but don’t go looking for trouble. .


Cheers guys. I think you nailed it on the head and your responses align with my thoughts, but great to get confirmation.

Researching things I was in conversation with Sam at SRA Soldering and we were looking at these units



My preference being to the latter of course! Hopefully I can motivate the extra price tag

Yeah, I think having things mostly ready to go should make it “easier”. Having the MSDS printed for everything & in appropriate binder, having a portable eye wash station planned/ordered (or if there is a sink nearby even better is the faucet mount ones), etc.

My university did a big upgrade of safety rules a few years ago and nothing was really stopped, just required some updates (including getting the expensive fume extractors instead of cheap desk fans for example).

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@rich / @coflynn do you have any opinions on the systems I linked?

I also have seen this one: Buy Lödrökutsug 2-uttag ST-1202D at the right price @ Electrokit but not sure if I’d get the value out of something so pricey

This might be the “grumpy engineer” coming out, but one thing to keep in mind with shared tools is that they tend to get damaged/mangled/deteriorated amazingly quickly. I haven’t found a good way to solve this problem, only to mitigate the influence on one’s own work. One thing to budget for is having a supply of fresh solder tips ready to go.

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No, it’s the voice of experience. I’m a member of a makerspace, and it’s the single largest source of frustration. If people don’t think they have skin in the game, they are careless - as in without care. Any. At all.

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No experience with them, so no.

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The small benchtop units you linked are usually fine for spot use in space constrained situations. You have to get the intakes in just the right spot and they can be a little noisy, but they work.

I went the DIY route in my home lab. I bought a big 8" duct carbon filter canister and an inline 6" duct fan. I 3D printed an adapter to connect them together but off-the-shelf duct pieces would work, too. I leave it in the corner and turn the fan up when I’m soldering. It moves so much air and has so much carbon that it scrubs the entire room.

Total cost was around $200 and the amount of carbon in the filter is an order of magnitude more than those benchtop units. It works so well that I can use chemical solvents on the bench across the room and not smell anything as long as I have the fan turned up to a reasonable setting.

I actually leave the fan on the lowest setting all the time now to scrub any stray VOCs out of the office. As a bonus the prefilter collects dust too.


This suggestion is a bit broader than the original question, but I think it would help.

One thing that helped me in the past with shared shop space is setting up a weekly meeting to do clean-up. This directly helped in two ways. First, it gave us an opportunity to clean and eventually deep-clean the space, making sure it’s ready for continued use. Second, it gave us an opportunity to take inventory of what’s there, both in terms of supplies and tools, and replenish it before it became an issue.

The secondary benefits were amazing. First, there was a definite improvement in morale around using the shop. Second, it gave us an opportunity to discuss improvements for the shop+tools+etc. Third, it brought the team closer together with the combined effort.

The challenges with this are that not everyone feels that such a meeting is important. Because I was not the manager of the team, nor could I restrict access to the shop, I couldn’t enforce the time spent.

I like this solution. The carbon filter at the printer (recirculating if enclosed so as to keep the heat in the enclosure for things like ABS/nylon/etc), and carbon filtration at the desk for the soldering fumes are great. With the proliferation of indoor “grow tents”, carbon filtration media for odor control has gotten extremely inexpensive, a search for 4" carbon filter or 6" carbon filter with the duct work and inline fan will yield good results. My hackerspace uses this setup for it’s resin printer! I would imagine if they worked well enough for anythingin a small lab setup honestly.

I’ve used a $1000 BOFA printpro 3 filter (purchased from the company printedsolid, I believe they might be the last dealer) with an enclosure with a Prusa MK3S+, which worked great for ABS. I would pull the recirculation tube out of the enclosure to instead vent to the room for printing PLA/PETG, or just crack the door.

I believe that filter might also do well for soldering if you just pulled the intake from the printer and directed it at your soldering area.

Those cartridges are super expensive. They sell them for significantly less for laser cutters, I’d personally recommend one that is refillable to cut down on costs. Although they also sell inline filter media. I’m not a respiratory therapist, but I once had one tell me that your most sensitive VOC sensor is your nose, and I couldn’t smell anything with these setups.

I was hugely interested in the Voron Nevermore project, which stuck a recirculating small blower fan in a 3D printer enclosure. I ended up designing my own much less expensive and less labor intensively utilizing sleep apnea tubing and a larger plug-in 24v fan. Just a little bit of carbon pretty drastically cuts down on the smells from ABS!

Sorry for such a lengthy reply about…not your question.

I personally just use a fan pointed away from where I’m breathing for soldering though. Not great for my lungs I’m sure.