The materials that laser cutters engrave and cut emit fumes and particulates. An exhaust system is employed to ensure that these fumes are removed from areas where people are present. Of course, huge production shops may have exhaust systems that are much larger and more intricate, but the concept remains the same.
You must ensure that the fumes are appropriately vented away from the laser equipment and the user. In most cases, a ventilation system with a good fan that exhausts to the outside will be sufficient, but if that isn’t an option, you can buy a fume extractor.
Ventilation with a laser exhaust fan
Anyone who has ever used a laser engraver/cutter is aware that they emit a lot of smoke and fumes.
This is not only dangerous for your health, but it can also cause a fire.
An exhaust fan will help eliminate smoke and pollutants from the engraving area, allowing you to operate in a safer atmosphere. It will also help your laser engraver last longer by keeping smoke and dirt from accumulating on the mirrors and lenses.
If you want to improve the safety of your laser engraving equipment, an exhaust fan is a perfect choice.
It will not only safeguard your health, but it will also help you maintain your equipment.
Here is a link to my best laser cutter & engraver exhaust fan options to improve ventilation in your work space whether that be in your home, garage or workshop.
How to set up a laser engraver exhaust
- Exhaust Vent through a window or door
If you have a window close to your laser, you can easily run the vent hose through the window. If you reside in a colder region, you’ll need to figure out how to securely seal it shut. In that instance, foam insulating panels may be required to keep the cold draft at bay.
If you want to vent your laser through a window, you can purchase an adjustable window dryer vent. This convenient vent fits into your window frame and provides a temporary (or permanent) exhaust escape. Plus, when you’re finished working, you simply pull it down and close the window. Below you will find the amazon links to the window dryer vent, heavy duty vent hose and clamps that we use in our workshop.
Adjustable Window Dryer Vent
For the installation you may also need some heavy duty ducting and clamps. I will include some amazon links below in case these items are needed.
Heavy Duty Exhaust Vent Hose
Thumb Twist Ring Clamps
Step 1: Place the Ring Clamp on each end of the exhaust vent hose loosely.
Step 2: Connect the exhaust vent hose to your exhaust fan.
Step 3: Tighten the ring clamp. Be careful to not overtighten. Overtightening the exhaust hose might cause it to break or tear.
Step 4: Connect the exhaust hose to the window dryer vent hose outlet.
Step 5: Tighten the ring clamp and be careful to not overtighten.
- Exhaust Vent through a wall
If you don’t have access to a window or door close to your equipment, the next best alternative is to drill a hole to vent the exhaust outside. This is a better alternative for someone who is a homeowner with some experience with building structures.
Depending on your area, there are a few things to consider. Because wiring and plumbing run through the walls, you must ensure that the cutout area is safe.
- Laser Fume Extractors
Finally, purchasing a laser fume extractor for laser cutting is one of the more expensive solutions. Because venting to the outside may not always be possible if you find yourself in one of these situations and want to buy a laser cutter, keep in mind that laser cutter fume extractors can be a costly add-on.
A customized fume extractor for laser cutters will allow you to use your laser safely indoors if you work in a limited space and can’t use a window/door or cut a hole in the wall.
What is a Laser Fume Extractor
The laser beam generates considerable heat during laser cutting and engraving procedures, causing the material to evaporate and release harmful air pollutants. Long-term exposure to these toxins can cause major health problems, and they can make the air smell bad and feel thick.
Unless actively ventilated or filtered, most laser engraving and cutting are done in a confined atmosphere, trapping dangerous particles in the work area. You may eliminate these dangers by installing a fume extraction system
A laser fume extractor works like a vacuum cleaner attached to a laser exhaust filter, sucking in polluted air, filtering it through a series of specialized filters to remove debris, and then releasing clean, healthy air back into the space.
Different sizes of laser cutter fume extractors are available, depending on the size of your laser machine’s work bed. If you use your laser frequently, you will need to replace the cartridges and filters.
You’ll also want to make sure the filters you’re using have a shelf life. Depending on your usage, some may require replacement every thirty days, while others may require replacement every six months.
How to choose the correct Laser Fume Extractor
1. How much airflow is required?
The amount of material taken from the substrates is directly proportional to the volume of airflow. A little quantity of substrate waste is released after laser annealing or foaming.
Other procedures, such as laser deep engraving and laser cutting, however, remove a higher quality of waste from the substrate’s surface, necessitating a considerable volume of airflow.
When purchasing a laser system, you must first determine the amount of airflow required.
2. How can pollutants be filtered?
Air filtration can be accomplished in two ways.
The first step is to connect the fume extractor to your home’s duct system; the second is to buy a filtration system. Air filtering via ducting or a standalone device is the two most common types of filters on the market.
Using the filter has the advantage of ensuring that the air quality is maintained at all times. To maintain efficient, safe, and clean air, filters must be removed after they reach saturation.
Pre-filtration Unit: it collects bigger particles that are visible to human vision.
HEPA Filters: collect particles with a size of 0.4 to 0.5 microns.
Activated Carbon Filter: The finest filter for neutralizing the intense irritant odor that can lead to asphyxia is an activated carbon filter.
OMTech does a fantastic range of laser fume extractors that will get the job done. We have tested the OMTech XL-300 Fume Extractor with 5 stage air filter which we use for our large CO2 Laser and we can confidently recommend this product. Here is the amazon link to the OMTech Fume Extractor range.
Hopefully, this article has clarified why it is critical to not only have a functional laser engraver exhaust system in place but also how to construct an effective laser exhaust system.
Maintain a constant awareness of your surroundings. Laser exhaust fumes are hazardous; never ignore unusual odors and seek fresh air immediately if you believe your health is in danger. If there are any odors, remember to open a window and turn on the fan.