Dampers are used in dust collection systems to control the airflow to specific branches of the ductwork. This is done by opening or closing the damper. Air, like water, travels the path of least resistance. By using a damper, you are changing the resistance to the air. Every dust collection system should have a manual damper near each hood/pickup point to balance the system. This makes sure that the system is properly operating. An unbalanced system could cause too much air to be pulled from one area (causing loss of product) while in another area not enough airflow is available to capture dust. Other times, a soft connect (space between flanges) is used to control airflow at a pickup point. However, this isn’t very efficient. This keeps the airflow in that area constant, but it’s picking up air from an area where it isn’t required. A damper would work much better, since you are only moving the air in the area you need. Soft connects are only advantageous when you are looking to cool down an airflow using outside air. Dampers can also be used to shut off portions of the system that are not being used, thereby allowing a smaller system.
So when you are looking at your dust collector system, don’t forget dampers. They allow you to optimize your system.