Laser cutters are machines used to cut into materials precisely, creating shapes, designs, and patterns. Lasers achieve this by focusing a thin laser beam onto materials to burn, melt, or vaporize them into desired shapes.
Do laser cutters emit radiation? Yes, laser cutters do emit radiation, but the quantity depends on different types of machines. Most lasers emit radiation in the form of light, while others produce infrared and ultraviolet radiation invisible to the human eye. Laser radiation mainly affects the outer parts of the body, like the eyes and the skin.
Laser cutters radiation
Laser cutters produce optical radiation that comes from high-energy light beams used to cut through materials. The wavelength of visible optic radiation is between 400 and 780 nanometers. The visibility of this kind of radiation makes it less dangerous as one can avoid looking straight at the beam.
Ultraviolet and infrared lasers produce invisible radiation, which is more dangerous to the human eye because one does not realize exposure. Invisible radiation makes it impossible for someone to invoke a defense reaction that prevents damage to the eye or other parts of the body.
Classification of lasers
Lasers are classified into five major classes according to their hazard level. These are identified by their potential to cause harm. The classification looks at the output energy and power of the laser, exposure duration, wavelength, and size of area exposed. These classes include:
- Class 1 and 1 M – The lasers in this class are considered safe unless viewed with optical aids that enhance them. Magnifiers, telescopes, and binoculars enhance the level of danger when using these lasers.
- Class 2 and 2M – The hazard level of this class intensifies when viewed with optical aids and when viewed for a longer time.
- Class 3R – This hazard of this class of lasers is dependent on the power and area of the beam. The hazard level will also increase when stared at directly and without eye protection. Using optical aid also increases the danger.
- Class 3B – For this class, a direct beam will cause immediate skin damage, while a direct view will also cause eye damage.
- Class 4 – This class of lasers will cause immediate skin and eye damage from exposure to a direct or reflected beam. Prolonged exposure to a surface may also cause a fire.
Precautions When Using Laser Cutters
Laser cutters, as are all machines, can pose a risk to operators and people nearby. The following precautions should be undertaken to ensure that laser cutters don’t cause harm to anyone.
- Do not tamper with any safety features of the system
- Do not use flammable materials
- Do not leave a running laser cutter unattended
- A working fire extinguisher should always be available
- Don’t look directly at a laser beam
- Do not cut unapproved materials
- The premise should be well ventilated
Even though laser cutters emit radiation, experts have proven that they pose a low risk to operators as the radiation is minimal. Taking preventive measures and following set guidelines for laser cutters ensures that operators avoid unnecessary radiation exposure from these machines.