How to Minimise the Amount of Metal Fumes Generated During Metal Laser Cutting

Posted on: 30 May 2017

Thanks to laser cutting technology, laser metal cutters can now be used to give metal workpieces highly accurate cuts. What's more, the machines provide high production rates because they are automated. However, a major safety hazard associated with the laser metal cutting technique is the metal fumes produced. When inhaled, the fumes have health-deteriorating effects, and it is crucial to take steps to minimise such harmful exposure. 

If you intend to use laser cutters for your metal cutting jobs, you should be conscious of the hazardous metal fumes that will be generated during the process. Let's take a look at some of the top industry strategies being employed to mitigate exposure to such metal fumes.

Avoiding the use of excessive laser power

Different metal materials have different physical and mechanical properties. For that reason, each kind of metal material calls for a specific amount of laser power to cut. Those using laser metal cutters are strongly advised against applying too much laser power when cutting metal. Instead, they are usually encouraged to use the laser power settings recommended for their particular applications. This will help prevent burning of metal material, which normally results in the generation of excessive metal fumes.

Wearing respiratory equipment 

As an industry requirement, staff operating metal laser cutters have to be provided with respiratory masks to help prevent inhalation of any fumes that may be produced during the metal cutting process. This strategy should not be relied upon as the primary means of minimising exposure to the toxic fumes. Rather, it should be implemented to ensure that individuals are protected from the toxic fumes in the event that exposure cannot be avoided completely.

Making sure workpieces are well-prepped

Part of the reason why metal workpieces may produce too much fumes is because they are contaminated. The presence of impurities on the surface of metal substrates can increase the amount of fumes generated considerably. Therefore, it is important to remove any surface impurities from metal workpieces before getting started with the cutting process. The choice of method for metal substrate preparation will depend upon the type and nature of impurities present on the surface of a particular metal.

Using properly cleaned equipment

The presence of residual material from previous jobs performed in metal laser cutters can increase the volume of metal fumes generated. Therefore, it is critical for metal cutters to thoroughly clean their laser cutting machines after every job. They can achieve this by following the cleaning guide provided in the operator's manual.