Laser cutting technology is widely used due to its incredible accuracy and ability to reduce workpiece contamination. The precision of laser cutters is changing sheet metal manufacturing. Although precise, laser cutters do require a certain level of maintenance including fume extraction or air filtration. As experts in laser cutting technology, the team at ACRA Machinery have detailed some of the different methods of air filtration for laser cutters so that you can find the right fume extractor for your workshop and avoid laser cutting mistakes.
Why is air filtration necessary?
While laser cutting technology is perfect for marking, engraving and cutting needs, they do emit smoke, dust, fumes, gas and debris from the metal cutting process. These fumes are unsafe for human health and so require an air filtration or fume extractor to avoid damaging the laser system or affecting the operator’s health. Laser fume extractors are important to ensure a safe workplace but there are a variety of factors that can impact which laser cutter fume extractor is right for your factory.
Factors to consider for your fume extraction needs
Before selecting the appropriate extraction method for your laser cutter, it is important to identify the contaminants that need to be extracted. Knowing the types of contaminants being released into the air from the removed materials or by the laser (in some cases) will determine the right filter and extraction units for your workplace.
To identify which by-products are released into the air by the sheet metal, read through the material safety data sheet or consult the manufacturer. Also consider if there are any assist gases such as nitrogen, oxygen or helium involved with the type of laser used in your sheet metal machinery. This will also need to be removed from the work environment.
Other factors could include the space available near the laser cutter and the workplace’s noise control needs. The type of airflow volume necessary also depends on whether the operator is simply marking or cutting the workpiece, so be sure to speak to trusted experts like ACRA Machinery when installing your laser cutting technology.
Non-filtered extractors prevent harmful fumes and respirable dust from entering the environment by capturing the emitted smells and particles from the laser cutter. However, this method does not remove the harmful particles from the captured air. These extractors can hold the fumes for safe removal at the end of the laser cutting process or the extractor can be fitted with a hose to directly vent the fumes outside of the workplace and into the atmosphere. It is the responsibility of the business to ensure that no harmful particles are exposed to the environment with this method.
If the fumes from your workpiece or laser cannot be safely vented into the environment, your laser cutter will need filtered extraction. A filtration system also draws the harmful fumes and air from the work area via ducting to prevent the air from entering the workplace atmosphere. Unlike exhaust blowers, filtered extractors don’t simply vent the particles and gas from the laser cutter into the environment. The fumes pass through filters that capture the airborne particles and release clean air, often at the opposite side to the intake.
Often filtered extractors will use charcoal filters that absorb chemicals and HEPA filters that catch metal and dust fumes, but there is a range of additional filtration options available to suit your needs. As part of maintaining your laser cutter, the pre-filter inner pads will need to be changed roughly once per week and HEPA filters will need to be replaced yearly at a minimum.
Filtered extractors can also have the benefit of being more portable than non-filtered extraction, which may have more permanently installed hosing for safe venting. Ultimately, the right fume extraction system will depend on how the laser cutter is used, the types of workpiece material and the site’s individual needs.
Looking to improve your laser cutting technology?
ACRA Machinery stocks a variety of laser cutting technology for your workshop including both new and used laser cutters. Our Durma laser cutters are all fitted with compact dust extraction filters for your operator’s safety and peace of mind. With over 150 years of experience, our expert technicians are available for all your sheet metal machinery needs to help give your laser cutter the best possible operational life.
If you’re looking to increase your workshop’s laser cutting capabilities or if you have any questions about effective air filtration, get in touch with us by calling 03 9794 6674 or contact us via our online enquiry form.