8 Laser Cutter Safety Tips for New Users
What are some laser cutter safety tips for beginners?
- Know How the Laser Works
- Protect Your Eyes
- Beware of Fumes
- Prepare for Fires
- Keep a User Log
- Clean Regularly
- Never Leave Your Laser Unattended
- Know Your Material
Laser cutters are used to process metal with the power of laser beams. These tools — while quite useful — can cause disaster if their users throw caution to the wind. Knowing the right safety tips for laser cutter use is key to preventing some of the workplace hazards that can occur during this metal fabrication process. Take a moment to read how you can be safer when using this machine at work.
Know How the Laser Works
Always read your laser cutter manual before ever starting your laser project. While there may be a lot of information online, this should never substitute the manufacturer’s user manual. This will be your most comprehensive guide on assembly, safety, and operation.
Each type and brand of this machine will be made differently — never assume that you know how to use a laser cutter just because you used a different one before. Look up the instructions provided to better understand how to properly use the tool. Also, observe a colleague using the same tool to know how it’s handled in practice.
Protect Your Eyes
Exposing your eyes to a laser beam can cause serious damage. These beams can go directly into your eyes and through your pupils. The damage this incident can cause depends on the focus setting of the laser beam, the area it hits, the amount of energy absorbed, as well as other factors.
The best way to avoid this is to use good quality safety goggles. Another way to lessen potential damage from a slip-up is to maintain good handling of the tool and to keep your face an arm’s length away from the beam.
Beware of Fumes
Fumes will be emitted when you cut your material with a laser cutter. Normally, with proper air filters, most of these fumes will dissipate and not buildup indoors. Some of these fumes may be toxic, therefore you should take great care not to inhale them directly.
Always keep your distance from the laser cutter, and make sure to wear the right type of face mask that can filter out the dangerous metal particulates when you inhale — such as an N95 mask.
Prepare for Fires
When used in the right way and in the right environment, there is little chance of starting a fire while using your laser cutter. However, it is still highly recommended to prepare for a possible fire anyways.
Keep a fire extinguisher as well as a fire blanket close to your workstation so you can quickly put out any fires should they occur. On the occasion that a small fire does start in the process of using your laser cutter, simply smother the fire before it spreads. Additionally, if the flame is less than two inches tall, don’t panic — it will fizzle out on its own.
Keep a User Log
Keeping a log can make sure that important details about the laser cutter machine are kept on record. A user log should indicate who used the laser cutter, how it was used, what materials were processed, any noteworthy observations or incidents regarding the machine, and the amount of time used.
This will be your reference on how your colleagues have used this laser cutter, and provide some insight on the condition of the tool. These are important things to know before use, rather than going through trial and error with your project.
Make sure to clean out any debris that gets lodged in the tool. Use a vacuum to clean the cutting deck and internal cavity of the laser cutter after every use. If you don’t clear out debris, it can cause large fires, damage the machine, or compromise the material being processed.
Never Leave Your Laser Unattended
Always supervise the laser cutter machine while your project is ongoing. New users often make the mistake of leaving while it processes larger projects. This becomes a safety risk — any number of accidents could happen while you’re not looking. Fires, as well as damaged electronics, could happen if the sustained heat of the laser becomes too much for the machine to handle.
The easiest way to prevent this is to always keep your eye on the machine while the laser is on. Should you need to take a break from monitoring it, you could always have another worker keep an eye on it for you for a few minutes.
Know Your Material
Knowing the material that you’re using for your laser cutting project is extremely important for your safety. Depending on the material, different debris and fumes will be emitted from the material as it’s being processed. Certain materials and plastic coatings can produce lethal fumes, and should never be used.
When you purchase your materials for your project, check with your suppliers if the metal comes with toxic safety warnings. Be especially careful with metals that can produce argon, zinc, helium, and carbon dioxide fumes.
Accidents can be common in metal fabrication processes and will occur when people become complacent while handling machines and tools. It is important to always prioritize your health when working in this industry. Be aware of the hazards, and keep these laser cutter safety tips in mind before starting on your metalworking.
Sourcing the right materials will help you get started on that new project. For those looking for high-quality steel and metal products, contact Metal Exponents today!