A growing number of people are turning to laser cutting for projects that require a high amount of precision and accuracy. As a result, there are plenty of new users that understand the benefits of using laser cutters but not the potential safety risks these machines present. Regardless of the type of laser cutter you're working with, keeping the following safety tips in mind can help you avoid errors that can quickly spiral into serious accidents.
Maintain a Tidy Workspace
An important part of maintaining a safe work environment when operating laser cutters involves keeping the immediate work area clean and clutter-free. The presence of leftover scrap material not only makes it difficult to operate your machinery in a safe and effective manner, but the resulting clutter can also represent a serious fire hazard when left in the immediate vicinity of working laser equipment.
Cleaning up after each and every use of your laser cutter not only creates a safer environment for yourself and other operators, but it also reinforces best practices that help reduce the risk of fire or explosion when working with laser equipment.
Know What Materials You're Using
Laser cutters are well-known for their ability to mark and cut through a wide variety of materials, from fabrics and paper products to metal, glass, and acrylic. However, not every material is suitable for cutting with lasers. It pays to know what type of materials you're working with as well as the potential reactions produced as a result of cutting through those materials.
Most of the materials mentioned above are capable of producing fumes upon contact with the laser. However, certain materials like PVC plastic can produce particularly noxious fumes that could prove potentially life-threatening, even when inhaled in small doses. The typical fume extractor used for most laser cutting equipment is ill-equipped to handle such toxic fumes, which is why it's best to avoid cutting PVC and other plastics that can produce noxious fumes when exposed to extreme heat.
Always Pay Attention to Eye Safety
Forgoing eye protection is another common and potentially dangerous mistake that many novice laser cutter operators make. Class 3b and Class 4 carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers are more than capable of causing lasting damage to the eye upon impact, often resulting in severe division damage or blindness.
You should always wear protective eyewear whenever you're operating laser equipment regardless of the nature of your project. Wearing the appropriate eyewear can help protect your vision by limiting the amount of potential damage caused by accidental laser contact.
Never Leave Your Laser Cutter Unattended
Most laser cutters are capable of completing small projects within a relatively short span of time. Nevertheless, projects involving large volumes of material or multiple projects can take hours to finish. It's not unusual for new operators to be tempted to leave a machine as they take care of other important tasks.
Anything can happen when a machine is left unattended. For instance, a potential cutting error or an unexpected concentration of heat can damage electronic components and cause fires to break out. If there aren't any operators present to intervene, the resulting damage could result in extensive downtime and even severe injury to nearby workers.
Patience is always a virtue when dealing with laser cutters. You should always remain at your station whenever your laser cutter is in operation. If you need to take a break or take care of other duties, you should always have another operator willing to take your place. These safety precautions can help reduce the likelihood of fire as well as damage to the equipment itself.
Contact a company like J&E Metal Fabricators Inc if you need to hire a professional for laser cutting projects.
After working in the backroom of my favorite candy manufacturer for years, I decided to talk with my boss about problems that were slowing things down. I felt really silly bringing up issues, because I had never actually talked with my superiors before. It was incredible to see how impressed they were about my ideas. After I mentioned a few places where production was getting bottlenecked, my bosses decided to put me in charge. I have learned tons of ways to make manufacturing easier, and I want to use this website to share them with you. You never know--this information could land you a job promotion.