Laser Engraving Safety Precautions
Using a laser engraver can be very dangerous and toxic to your health. To protect yourself from smoke and beams, you need to do the following:
Laser beam protection
Lasers can cause serious damage to your eyes. For safety, you must consider wearing laser safety glasses. When choosing a protective tool like this, you should consider glasses that directly complement the type of laser engraver you are using.
This should be easy as laser information can be found in the instruction manual. This includes information such as optimal density and wavelength range, usually in nanometers. Alternatively, you can consult a laser safety officer. Make sure to wear laser glasses during the engraving process and only remove them when you stop using the device.
Laser cutters are prone to generating fumes, particulates, metal fumes and vapors from potentially highly toxic substrates. It is important to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when operating the laser cutter. In addition to this, workshops using these tools must be equipped with a suitable filtration system, which is important to reduce the chance of toxic fumes causing health hazards.
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To keep pace with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), laser cutting shops should be equipped with fume extractors that comply with prescribed protocols. Smoke extractors are ideal for such workplaces as they help extract dangerous fumes from the air, protecting you from heavy metals and toxic particles.
Potential side effects of laser smoke exposure include:
Metal Fume Fever: This is usually caused by zinc fumes released when cutting certain steel alloys. Common symptoms of zinc fumes include pain, cough, flu, and fever.
Irritation: Exposure to chemicals can irritate eyes, skin, mouth and noise.
Toxic Chemical Buildup: Over time, toxic fumes can build up in the body, causing unwanted chemical reactions. This can eventually lead to lead poisoning and kidney problems.
Exposure to carcinogenic compounds is very common, especially when there is hexavalent chromium. This is a dangerous particle that can cause cancer. In addition to this, multiple studies have shown that this nasty particle can immediately cause a variety of side effects, such as skin ulcers, irritation of the nose, mouth, and eyes.
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Laser machines, especially those involving carbon dioxide, often emit dangerous fumes, which is why these devices require exhaust. Therefore, you should consider working in a well-ventilated space. While modern laser engraving systems are designed with exhaust ventilation systems to keep the air inside the laser cutter and around the laser safe, make sure you open doors and windows for free airflow.
Other additional safety measures include:
Store with proper equipment: Your protective eyewear should always be stored in separate cases and secure units. This will help minimize exposure to contaminants and eliminate scratches.
Adhere to prescribed laser engraving protocols: Make sure your facility complies with laws and regulations regarding the use of laser cutters in the workshop.
Use Warning Signs: Use warning signs if you have a lot of human activity in your workshop. These should be easy-to-read signs that are correctly placed and designated (e.g. entry).
Always clear debris: Remove flammable materials and debris that have built up after using the laser cutter. Other than that, don't immediately remove the material from the cutting bed; wait until it cools down.
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