Are laser cutters or engravers dangerous? Are laser cutters and engravers safe to use? These are the two most frequently asked questions by the community. Safety issue seems to be a major concern and reason to turn down laser cutting and engraving machines for those who are new to such devices regardless of the fact that the global market keeps increasing at an annual growth rate of 8%. Though laser cutting has been widely used for industrial bulk production, commercial service, and home DIY, beginners might still hold doubts about laser cutters and engravers for 3 reasons: harmful radiation, fire hazard and toxic gas.
Safety Concerns on Laser Cutters & Engravers
1. Do laser cutters emit radiation?
The answer is YES. As we all know, electronic devices like computers, cell phones, hairdryers, all will emit radiation. There are all kinds of radiation in the world with different wavelengths. With proper protection, radiation would cause no harm to us. Compared with other cutting equipment, laser cutters and engravers are much safer to use as they produce less dust, weaker lights and less noise. However, if you star at laser beams for a long time, you might feel tingling in your eyes. Thus protective goggles are essential for operators to get proper protection. Since the laser beam produces extra heat, it should always be avoided to direct the leam beam to your eye or skin.
2. Laser Cutter & engraver Fire Hazards
The fundamental working theory of a laser cutter or engraver has had everything explained. Laser cutting and engraving machines direct the focused beam at the material which then either melts, burns or vaporizes away. During the process, huge amounts of heat are produced and if without careful attendance, this could easily cause a fire especially when you are processing flammable materials. But don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty safe to use as most equipment has a very decent setup to avoid fire hazards in most cases.
3. Toxic Gas Emission by Laser Cutting & Engraving
Some materials are simply not suitable for laser cutting and engraving if without ventilation or exhaust systems. ABS, PVC and fiberglass are the three most common materials on the “Forbidden List”. Though the toxic gas emitted would be very limited in quantity, it might present a risk of health hazards. Thus if you are considering purchasing a laser cutter or engraver, make sure to get one with ventilation or exhaust systems.
Are Laser Engravers & Cutters Safe to Use?
You might be scared away by the above safety concerns, but the truth is that some simple settings and measures would get you protected against all these hazards. Following are some tips to help you make a risk assessment on your laser cutters & engravers and tell if they are safe to use.
A tightly sealed and well-made enclosure could effectively stop toxic fumes from leaking into your house. The enclosed laser cutter also helps to contain the fire from spreading and getting out of control. The metal housing of TS3 laser cutter & engraver is a good example:
2nd: Protective Shield
To protect your eyes from laser radiation, it requires a protective shield on machines (like the cover on TS3) to block harmful laser radiation. Wearing protective goggles while operating would be a simple fix for this problem.
3rd: Smart Auto Shut-down Settings
Since the laser cutting and engraving process would produce a huge amount of heat if it keeps operating when materials are on fire, it would only make things worse. To get rid of such a situation, machines like TS3 are designed to shut down immediately once any flame is detected by the sensor.
4th: Fire Alarm
It’s usually recommended to watch out for the machines during the whole process. However, for some projects, the whole process might take hours or even longer, it would help save lots of trouble and time with a proper monitor system. For TS3, it’s designed with an integrated flame detector and fire alarming system. Once any flame was found, the alarming system would send a warning signal which could be heard even on the second floor of the same building. And its APP function also enables users to monitor the whole process while taking care of their children or enjoying reading without attending to the machine.
5th: Exhaust Fans & Ventilation System
Users are usually recommended to set cutting and engraving machines by the side of windows with good ventilation in case toxic gas might present a risk to health. A laser cutter & engraver with a great built-in ventilation system would keep the risk to its lowest level. There are a few ventilation solutions for most laser cutting and engraving machines in the market:
Exhaust fans & external pipe: Toxic gas and fumes are exhausted into a pipe to release into the outdoor environment. The problem with this solution is that it requires an extra pipe to realize this function and there is a chance of fume leakage.
Exhaust fans & external filter box: Toxic gas and fumes are exhausted into the filter box for further processing.
Exhaust fans & internal circulation system: TS3 uses an internal circulation system to filter toxic fumes. The exhaust fans force smoke and fumes into the internal filer box with active charcoal. Activated charcoal can interact with and absorb a range of toxins, drugs, viruses, bacteria, fungus, and chemicals which would make users much safer.
Are laser cutters & engravers safe to use? That’s a complicated question if all factors are taken into consideration. Instead of worrying about all the side effects, choosing the right products would set your mind free and enable you to enjoy the true potential and fun of laser cutting and engraving.