Laser Saftey

The topic of “digital manufacturing” is omnipresent. In schools and universities, cutting plotters, CNC routers, 3D printers, embroidery machines and laser cutters are often regarded as important tools for digital production and offered as classes. In relation to the laser machine, questions about laser safety come up again and again: What do’s and don’ts need to be observed when using the laser cutter? How do I create a safe learning environment for different users with a basic knowledge?

Due to their closed design, Trotec laser cutters ensure an optimal protection for all users. Interlock safety switches, protective covers, light barriers or temperature sensors make Trotec laser cutters the world’s safest laser machines of their class. Trotec lasers are CE compliant and meet the safety and health requirements of the EC Machinery Directive 2006/42/EG.

  • ✓ Offer regular training:

    Make basic training for the laser cutter a prerequisite for its use. Many errors can be avoided by thorough instruction on the laser machine. In addition to laser safety, the focus should be on working efficiently with the laser cutter. The functionality of the laser machine, the basics of laser software and a first engraved and cut laser workpiece can be part of this training. A “certificate of completion” motivates students to work with the laser cutter.

  • ✘ Leave the laser machine unsupervised

    When cutting, engraving and marking, a laser beam hits the material surface to be processed and heats it. As a result of this generation of heat, the material can be removed or completely evaporated. However, if the laser power is incorrectly set, the material can also ignite. Therefore, the laser machine must never be left unattended.

  • ✓ Take advantage of the laser software:

    Various functions of the laser software ensure that your students use the laser safely. An example: in the material database supplied with our software, cutting and engraving parameters are recommended for all popular materials. You can restrict access to the material database for your students: It’s possible to disable the features allowing users to change, delete or rename laser parameters. This protects the user and the laser machine.

  • ✘ Process unsuitable materials

    Some materials are not suitable for laser engraving or laser cutting due to their unique chemical composition. When processing these materials, dangerous gases or dusts may be produced. A list of suitable and unsuitable materials can be found below regarding unsuitable materials for laser processing.

  • ✓ Simply reserve and play:

    On what days and at what time can I, as a student, cut and engrave my designs on the laser cutter? How long can I use the laser machine? A reservation system can answer these questions. Scheduling laser use allows you to avoid “queuing” at the laser cutter, and minimize organizational efforts.

  • ✘ Disregard the environmental conditions

    Choosing the right environment and installation location ensures that the laser cutter runs smoothly and operates safely. Define a separate room or area for the laser cutter. There should also be space for the exhaust system and materials.

  • ✓ One central contact person:

    Trotec machines are low-maintenance. If a machine is used by many different users, a central contact person (a type of “laser mentor”) is worth their weight in gold. This person takes care of the functionality of the laser cutter: user support, error analysis and machine maintenance can fall into their area of responsibility.

  • ✘ Leave projects un-attempted

    What you definitely shouldn’t do: Leave your projects un-attempted!

? Materials You Should Not Process With A Laser

There are some materials you should not engrave or cut with a laser because of their chemical make-up. Processing these materials creates dangerous gases or dust. These materials include:

  • Leather and artificial leather that contains chromium (VI)
  • Carbon fibers (Carbon)
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
  • Polyvinyl butyrale (PVB)
  • Polytetrafluoroethylenes (PTFE /Teflon)
  • Beryllium oxide
  • Any materials containing halogens (fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine and astatine), epoxy or phenolic resins

⚠ Care should be taken with the following materials:

  • Manganese
  • Chromium
  • Nickel
  • Cobalt
  • Copper
  • Lead

Be especially careful when processing “flame-retardant” materials because they often include of bromine. For flame-retardant materials, it is best to ask the manufacturer about the exact ingredients.