Laser Cutters are versatile tools that can be used for cutting, marking, and engraving different materials. From enclosed laser cutters to tabletop versions, laser cutters are becoming more affordable and used for various applications.
The American National Standard Institute (ANSI) considers Laser Cutters a class 1 laser based on ANSI Z136.1. These devices are safe when used as designed without manipulating the safety features.
However, the lasers embedded inside the enclosed system are often Class 3B or Class 4 lasers that can cause serious eye and skin injury if the beam is not contained.
This equipment must be used and maintained properly to avoid incidents. Laser cutters require proper ventilation to prevent fires and exposure hazards.
- Fire/Hot objects
- During operation, substrate material is burned away, generating significant amounts of heat.
- Some materials can catch fire during cutting operations.
- Dirt and debris may cause fire.
- Hazardous vapors and fumes & Exhaust Systems
- Cutting specific material there is potential to produce Laser Generated Air Contaminants (LGAC’s). Contaminants can pose a health risk to those exposed; examples airborne benzene, toluene, hydrochloric acid, isocyanates, and other by-products which maybe hazardous.
- Laser cutter MUST be exhausted via FP&M approved duct work to the outside of the building.
- Exhaust systems must be installed properly and meet all manufacturer specifications.
- Other Hazards:
- Exposure to laser beam can cause severe eye damage or skin burns.
- Sharp edges could result in lacerations, and puncture wounds.
Warning signs are necessary to inform about the risk of exposure during use and maintenance. Signs are available from EH&S Radiation Safety Office.
All users should receive training on the potential hazards, operating procedures, and safety precautions before operating the laser cutter.
The owner is responsible for providing each user with training on the safe operations of the laser cutter.
Online general laser safety training is available on EH&S website: https://ehs.wisc.edu/training/?roles%5B%5D=31
Laser Cutter Registration
Laser cutters shall be registered with EH&S. https://ehs.wisc.edu/commercial-embedded-laser-devices-registration-form/
- NEVER operate system unattended.
- Properly maintained fire extinguisher should always be in the area.
- Always keep the area around cutter free of debris, clutter, and flammable materials.
- Keep interior of the laser cutter clean and free of debris. Visually inspect the interior between uses and clean tray if debris or residue are present.
- DO NOT modify or disable any safety features of the laser system.
- DO NOT operate the laser unless all covers are in place and interlocks are working properly.
- DO NOT look directly into laser beam.
- DO NOT view directly with optical instruments.
- Use accepted materials only. Some materials engraved, marked, or cut with the laser can produce toxic and corrosive fumes.
- DO NOT operate if the view port is damaged, with any doors removed, or if any safety interlocks are defeated
- NEVER defeat laser interlocks built into the cutter. This could allow the beam to escape the laser cutter.
Comments, questions, or concerns about laser safety, contact Laser Safety at firstname.lastname@example.org