Laser Fume Extraction - A Corner You Can’t Cut
Most laser users know that the laser process produces dust and fumes. How injurious to health these are very much depends on the materials that have been been processed.
However, most of the really hazardous elements are the contaminants that are not visible to the naked eye. The bulk of the materials vapourised by lasers during metal processing form particles less than a micron in size. These are a respiratory hazard.
Processing non-metals often produces hazardous chemical vapours. Cutting or marking wood products produces copious quantities of benzene. Processing plastics can produce a wide array of carcinogens.
Not just operators
It’s not only laser operators who are put at risk. Without a laser fume extraction system, noxious fumes and particles can affect all members of staff, not just those working in the vicinity of the laser.
The particles generated by the laser process can also damage the laser itself. These can get burnt into the lens, downgrading performance which may then require expensive replacement and repair.
There’s also a danger of product contamination, especially in marking applications in open containers. Particulates can land in the open containers, contaminating the finished product when the container is filled.
The law’s the law
Some users think that setting up some glorified vacuum cleaner arrangement as a fume extraction system is enough.
The fact is it isn’t and there are rules to enforce this.
Brexit did not make EU safety rules such as the IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) directive go away. Standards such as BS, ISO and EN still apply. You also have compliance in relation to CosH. Which means that if staff health is affected by airborne contaminants generated in the workplace environment, the employer is liable to prosecution.
To meet health and safety regulations and protect operator and staff welfare, today’s laser fume extraction units are designed to remove the tiniest of particles.
Our product partner, BOFA is the market leader in laser fume and dust extraction. The company produces a wide range of extraction solutions to ensure laser and customer needs are met exactly.
To give an example of how efficient the fume extractors of today are, we’ve chosen an entry level example, the BOFA AD Fusion. The unit is designed to work with the new generation of low-cost laser systems operating on coding, marking and engraving applications.
To maintain safe operator working conditions and ensure product quality, the extractor uses a three-stage filtration process: pre-filter, HEPA and chemical section.
The DeepPleat pre-filter incorporates a sealed pleated layer of F8 media that’s at least 100mm high to give an impressive surface area. Advanced carbon filter technology (ACF) assures safe capture and removal of hazardous fumes. Contaminated air is held in contact with a carbon bed to ensure no contaminants or odours are emitted (dwell time).
The correct air flow rates for the specific application are preset by the operator using Automatic Flow Control (AFC). Maintaining the air flow generates lower noise levels and provides extra protection to the HEPA filter.
The BOFA AD Fusion is one of over 30 fume extractors in the BOFA laser range. To find out which extractor is right for your laser and your workplace, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org