When it comes to lasers; especially those which are powerful enough burn, safety is paramount!
At FabCreator safety is our number one concern. We want our users to rest assured they are well protected from any and all danger of the laser during normal operation. However its important to remember Laser cutters are tools, not toys and improper use can lead to harm. It is important to use the machines as intended and follow the standard operating procedures as outlined in the manual.
Any laser processing machine manufactured in or imported into Europe must comply with the European safety directives, primarily the Machine directive.
The Machine Directive:
"1.5.12. Laser radiation
Where laser equipment is used, the following should be taken into account:
— laser equipment on machinery must be designed and constructed in such a way as to prevent any accidental radiation,
— laser equipment on machinery must be protected in such a way that effective radiation, radiation
produced by reflection or diffusion and secondary radiation do not damage health,
— optical equipment for the observation or adjustment of laser equipment on machinery must be such that no health risk is created by laser radiation."
As with most European directives they are left vague and yet all encompassing. This is done in order to allow for changes in technology and for individual nation states to adjust their own laws to easily include the directives.
As a supplement to the MD directives manufactures can utilise European standards (EN European Norms) to ensure there product complies with the machine directive.
Europeans standards are developed by CEN, the European committee for standardisation. CEN brings together the national standardisation bodies of all European countries in order to create a singular standard. These standards provide more technical details, procedures and design considerations that the manufacturer should apply to the product to ensure compliance.
"EN 60825-1 Safety of laser products Part 1: Equipment classification and requirement" is the primary document used for evaluating and designing a laser based product. The commonly known laser classifications can be found in this document.
Laser products that are considered safe during normal operation. A Class 1 laser may contain a laser of a higher classification however through technical means no hazardous radiation is accessible.
No further safety equipment or measures are required.
Same as a Class 1 laser with the exception viewing with magnifying instruments may cause harm.
Laser products which emit visible radiation (wavelength 400nm - 700nm) of low power are considered safe as the natural aversion response from the body will prevent harm. Incidental exposure may still result in dazzling, flash-blindness and afterimages, similar to if you were to look into a bright light or the sun. Repeated and deliberate exposure to a class 2 laser may result in harm. Therefore it is important not to stare into the laser.
Further safety equipment is not required. However do not stare into laser beam should be clearly conveyed to the user.
This is the same as a Class 2 laser with the exception viewing with magnifying instruments may cause harm.
Direct intrabeam viewing is hazardous however the risk of injury for short and unintentional exposure is relatively low.
Further safety equipment is required. Administrative controls and training should be implemented. Class 3R lasers should only be used where direct intrabeam viewing is unlikely.
Direct intrabeam viewing is hazardous including accidental short and unintentional exposure. Reflections from a Class 3B laser can also be harmful. Direct contact can heat skin and materials however burn and fire risk is relatively low.
Further safety equipment is required. Administrative controls and training should be implemented. Class 3R lasers should only be used where direct intrabeam viewing is unlikely. Not suited for average consumer use.
Intrabeam viewing and skin exposure is harmful, viewing reflections are harmful. Lasers in class 4 are capable of igniting material and burning skin.
Further safety equipment is required. Administrative controls and training should be implemented. Class 4 lasers should only be used where direct intrabeam viewing is unlikely. Not suited for average consumer use
FabCreator laser safety
FabCreator lasers houses a sealed carbon-dioxide DC excited laser.
Without the protections included with the machines these would be a Class IV laser which emits an invisible laser radiation at a wave length of 10.6 microns.
Operating a Class IV laser without safety precautions exposes you to the following risks:
Eyes: Burns to the cornea, can result in permanent damage to sight.
Fire: Ignition of most organic compounds, Danger of fire.
It is important to take the following safety precautions when operating a Class IV Laser:
- DO NOT Expose skin and eyes to direct, reflected, or scattered radiation
- DO Wear suitable laser safety protection goggles.
- DO Appoint a laser safety officer responsible for evaluating the use of the FabCore within your organisation.
Glasses/goggles capable of blocking the CO2 wavelength of 10.6 microns are suitable.
- 10,600 nm OD5+
- Visible Light Transmission: 92.9%
Never stare into or interrupt the laser source, even when wearing goggles!
FabCreator machines are designed to mitigate these risks.
When operated under normal operating conditions FabCreator machines are designed to meet the requirement of a Class 1 laser.
The laser source is enclosed within a metal frame and equipped with a sturdy door capable of absorbing the laser radiation. The door and easy access panels are equipped with dual defeat safety interlocks, ensuring the Class 4 laser radiation is not accessible during normal operation.
Panels that need to be removed using tools are not to be removed during normal operation; These are for access during maintenance. Removing any part of a machine may potentially compromises the enclosure and could expose the user to harmful levels of laser radiation.
- DO NOT Remove any panels which require tools to open/remove when the machine is on.
- DO NOT Attempt to defeat the interlocks - these are installed for your safety.
- DO NOT Attempt to stare into the beam of the alignment laser.
- DO Use the machine sensibly and within its scope of intended use
When processing some materials with a CO2 laser the point of cutting may produce an intense light. While you are protected from any stray CO2 laser radiation, this bright light may cause irritation similar to when you look directly at an LED or the sun.
- DO NOT Stare at the cutting process.
To help with alignment of FabCreator machines have a low power secondary laser which is combined with the high powered CO2 laser. This provides a good approximation of where the CO2 laser will hit.
This alignment laser has a wave length of 650nm with a power of 0.5mW.
With a power of 0.5mW this places the red alignment laser within the category of a Class 2 laser.
A class 2 laser is considered safe, as the laser is unable to cause harm before the blink reflex would trigger. However it is important to note that staring directly into the beam of a Class 2 laser can result in harm and should never be attempted.
- DO NOT Stare directly into the laser beam
- DO NOT Suppress the eyelid closure reflex
- DO Close your eyes and turn away
Even though the CO2 laser encapsulated within FabCreator machines can be classified as a Class 1 laser. The machine must be classified as a Class 2 as the accessible level of laser radiation as a result of the alignment laser falls outside the classification of class 1 laser.
FabCreator machines with an alignment laser installed will be Class 2.