Laser Cutting Mastery: Safe & Efficient Operations

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Publish Date: July 26, 2023

I. Introduction

The laser cutting machine is a very practical tool for cutting and drilling wood, plastics, and metal.

This machine is usually economical, efficient, and easy to automization.

It adopts a solid laser to cut and engrave precisely and is widely applied in many aspects.

The ANSI ( American National Standards Institute) classifies the laser cutting machine as Class 1 laser, which has low levels of emitting energy and will not harm eyes and skin.

However, the machine is usually equipped with Class 3B and Class 4 laser cutters, which can produce high energy levels.

Thus, it is of vital importance for operators to use and maintain the machine properly to avoid accidents.

II. Laser Cutting Machine Hazards

laser cutting machine

Fire

The laser cutting machine utilizes a high-density laser beam.

When it is contacted with engraving materials, the exceptionally high temperature will show up, easily igniting the flammable materials.

Especially works on cutting or engraving materials like wood or some plastics.

It is essential to monitor the lase cutting machine and prepare the fire suppression equipment available.

Toxic Fumes and Gases

Some toxic fumes and dust may occur when the laser cutting machine works, depending mainly on the cut materials.

Appropriate ventilation or air filtration systems are pivotal for ensuring the operator’s safety and the people nearby.

Eye Injury

The laser-cutting machine emits intense light. If staring directly, your eyes may be hurt severely. So does the reflected light.

So the safety glasses specially designed for types of lasers should be worn during the operation and supervision of the machine.

Burn

The high-power lasers of laser cutting machines can lead to skin burning.

It is necessary for you to adopt proper handling and safety measurements to avoid laser beams and heated materials.

Electrical Hazards

Laser cutters require high-voltage electrical systems. Improper handling or maintenance may result in electric shock or other electrical hazards.

Following the manufacturer's guidelines and ensuring proper grounding and electrical safety measures are in place.

III. Laser Cutter Set Up

Choose the appropriate laser-cutting machine

Factors needed to be considered: some factors should be considered in purchasing the machine, including the types of material, the thickness of the material and the size of the available working area, power requirement, and your budget.

Installation of laser cutting machine

Requirements for ideal location and space: the machine should be installed in an area with good air ventilation and sufficient space for operators to walk. The surface on which the tool is placed should be stable and level.

Requirement for electrical: different laser cutting machine requires extra electricity. Make sure that your supplement for electricity is adequate and stable.

Calibration and initial setting

Align the laser: this is an essential part of the setting process, which can ensure accurate and effective cutting. The laser must align with the cutting surface inside the machine and mirror.

Test the laser: after aligning, you should test the machine on some sample material to check if it works.

Software setting

Links to software: most laser cutting machines are equipped with specific software and compatible with popular design software. Make sure the device can be appropriately linked and can be telescoped with software.

Fundamental software: learn how to operate the software. This includes knowing how to input design, adjust the setting of different materials and monitor the operation of the machine.

IV. Tips for Using Laser Cutting Machine

laser cutting machine

Before Use:

  • Before using the machine, all the operators should accept training on potential risks, operation procedures, and safety precaution measurements. What’s more, the detailed procedure of the specific machine and interlocks should be covered. New operators must undergo training and refresher courses at predetermined intervals.
  • Check the filter, and replace it according to the manufacturer's guidelines.
  • Verify all are aware of potential risks, controlling measurements, proper use of operation procedures and equipment of manufacture (including materials allowed to be cut), emergency procedures, and equipment cleaning.
  • Wear regulative PPE. The safety glasses can protect the eyes from particles and debris damage. Wear heatproof gloves that can protect the skin from burns. And face mask and respirator can be used to isolate toxic fumes.
  • Ensure that there is no flammable material near the laser cutting machine.
  • Install the fire extinguisher on the wall near the laser-cutting machine. The fire extinguisher must be mounted to a place that is easy access to touch. Meanwhile, the channel of the fire extinguisher can not be blocked by the on the ground, or another machine sits in front of it.
  • Know how the laser pulse rate affects the chance of fire and the resolution of the cut. The laser cutting machine uses pulse firing mode to increase its climax light energy. A pulsed laser provides a short pulse under higher power instead of emitting a constant power output. The laser can “store” the energy between pulses. Thus the slower pulse speed can generate more power. On the contrary, the higher pulse rate features lower climax energy. Therefore, lower pulse frequencies have a higher risk of causing a fire in the material being cut.

During Use:

  • Please always follow the manufacturer's specifications when operating the laser cutting machine. The manufacturer knows the machine's restriction design and risks. Each device has interlocks and design functions to ensure the user and equipment's safety. After buying the tooling, please read the safety and operation manual thoroughly. If the manufacturer suggests restrictions and emphasizes the specific risks, please pay more attention and obey these rules.
  • Only the material approved by the laser cutting machine manufacturer can be used. Some materials are unsafe for laser cutting machines for two reasons: the risk of fire is high, and another is releasing toxic fumes when contacted with lasers. So, some precautious measurements should be taken before cutting, and analysis of each material is necessary.
  • Ensure all the covers are correctly positioned, and do not avoid the safety interlocks inside the laser cutting machine. The safety interlocks are indispensable for their functions. The laser is usually classified as Class 3B or Class 4. If you see the laser directly (sometimes even indirectly), your eyes will be hurt or lead to skin damage or fire. Owing to the interlock setting inside the laser cutting machine, the laser cutting machine can be sold as Class 1. This means the device complies with international safety regulations. Thus, the buyers will not contact dangerous laser machines.
  • Leave the material on the cutting bed until it is cool enough to touch.
  • If the air filter or exhaust system fails, please stop the operation immediately and then inform your supervisor or workshop coordinator.
  • Keep a diary. The blog can contain who uses the laser cutting machine, cutting time, and cutting material. It is essential to record which materials are cut and who cut them. Some materials may leave flammable debris. What's more, if any tooling fails, you can ask the last one who uses the machine so that the new operator can know about the previous machine's previous work. The working time of the laser cutting machine is also very essential. Thus the device can be maintained regularly.
  • Do not keep the machine working under no supervision. Due to fire risk, supervision is needed when operating. There is an external fire possibility when high-power lasers are used.
  • Due to fire risks, the laser cutting machine should not be applied to the wood surface. Put the laser cutting machine on solid, non-flammable surfaces like concrete and steel decks.

After Use:

After using the machine, please clean the debris and the flammable materials from the laser cycle.

It is very important to absorb debris from the cutting head and inside of the laser cutting machine regularly to avoid fire hazards.

Dust accumulation inside laser cutting machine housing will significantly increase the fire hazard.

The dust particles are tiny, and thus have a large surface area to volume ratio.

This allows for mass air(oxygen) to always be in contact with particles. Thus, the dust is easier to flame compared with solids of the same materials.

Do's and Don'ts:

Donts

Please do not modify or limit any safety function of the laser systems.

Please do not directly observe through the optical equipment.

Dos

Before using, please check the machine inside visually. If there is debris and residue, please clean the tray.

Keep a first aid kit available and within easy reach. It is used to heat burning.

Warning signs are necessary to inform about exposure risks during use and maintenance.

laser cutting machine

V. FAQs

How Do I Protect My Lungs From Laser Fumes?

The primary method to protect your lungs from gases produced by laser-cutting materials is to ensure the extracting system is installed and has been operated.

Most laser cutting machines have inner air extraction systems, which are used to remove the fumes and dust inside the machine.

It is usually absorbing the air from the bottom of the cutting bed.

The second extracting system can be installed on the top of the laser cutting machine as a shell, which removes the gases generated by the machine shell.

Another way to protect oneself from smoke is carefully selecting the cutting materials.

Know much about each material that can emit which kind of gases in advance. It can be avoided, please do not use unsafe materials.

At last, you can wear face masks with filters for lung protection.

The filter can filter the air before absorbing the atmosphere and absorb the fumes. Please choose the filter according to the cutting materials.

What Are Five 5 Safety Precautions Taken When Working With Lasers?

Wear protective glasses: the laser harms the eyes. Thus, it is better to wear safety glasses when operating the laser cutting machine.

Avoid contact with lasers directly: when the laser cutting machine works, lasers should be avoided directly to avoid burning or other hurt.

Using proper air ventilation system: some toxic fumes and gases may be produced during laser cutting.

Maintain and check regularly: to ensure the safe operation of the machine, the machine should be examined and maintained. Thus, you can find the problem instantly and solve the potential problems.

Obey the operation rules: everyone should accept the proper training before operating the cutting machine and obey the operation rules strictly to ensure the safe of themselves and others.

How Can I Choose the Ideal Laser Cutting Parameters?

The choice of laser cutting machine parameters usually depends on the types and thickness of the materials you need.

Generally, cutting the thicker material requires higher laser power and slower cutting speed.

What Should I Do When the Laser Cutting Machine Fails?

If the laser cutting machine doesn’t work, you should first close the device, then check the manual guidebook or contact the manufacturer for support. Never attempt to fix potentially serious problems yourself.

How to Keep Your Laser Cutting Machine at Peak Performance?

The key to keeping its machine functionality at its peak is regularly maintaining and cleaning the laser cutting machine.

This includes cleaning the laser lens, checking and adjusting the laser’s aligning, and replacing the used materials.

VI. Conclusion

The laser cutting machine brings much convenience to applying metal sheet fabrication. However, the potential risks should not be ignored. The proper equipment setting and using techniques can distinguish and lower these risks.

We should obey the safety regulation strictly and master some practical operation techniques to ensure the correct installation and maintenance of the machine.

ADH is a company that has over 20 years of metal sheet fabrication experience. You can browse our products to choose the suitable machine or consult our sales to learn detailed information.

Act now. Let us improve the safety and efficiency of laser cutting together!

safe guide for laser cutting machine

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