Why Laser Coding Needs Fume Extraction

First Published: January 26, 2024

Introduction

Laser coding systems have revolutionized industrial marking with precision, speed, and versatility. However, the laser marking process can generate harmful fumes and particles, especially with materials like plastics, rubber, and metals. This can pose health risks to workers and damage sensitive equipment.

To mitigate these risks, particle and fume extraction systems are essential components of any laser coding setup.

The Laser Coding Process

Laser coding systems use concentrated beams of light to mark materials such as glass, plastic, metal, and wood. The laser beam removes a layer of material or alters the material’s surface, creating high-contrast, permanent marks. While this process is highly efficient, it can release toxic emissions, including carcinogens, depending on the substrate being coded¹.

Health and Safety Concerns

The fumes produced during laser coding can contain dangerous particles like lead, nitrogen dioxide, and cresol. These substances are hazardous when inhaled and can lead to serious health issues for workers in the vicinity. Therefore, implementing fume extraction systems is crucial to maintain a safe working environment.

Equipment Maintenance Issues

Beyond health concerns, fumes and particles can also accumulate on the laser’s lens and other critical components.

This buildup can lead to equipment damage, reduced performance, and increased maintenance costs since the laser light can weld particles to the lens.

If the laser’s cooling fans draw dust or particles into the electronics, this can reduce performance and shorten the component’s lifetime.

Fume extractors help keep the laser system clean, ensuring consistent code quality and prolonging the lifespan of the equipment.

Fume Extraction Systems

Fume extractors are designed to capture harmful emissions at the source. They combine vacuum and filtration systems to isolate and remove contaminants from the air. By installing fume extractors, businesses can protect their workers and maintain the integrity of their laser coding systems.

Installation and Operation

Installing a fume extractor involves placing the hose device adjacent to the laser marking point. As the laser operates, the extractor’s vacuum system inhales the fumes, which then pass through a series of filters. These filters are designed to remove all potentially harmful particles, ensuring that the air remains clean and safe for workers.

Filter Efficiency

The filters used in fume extractors are highly efficient, with some systems featuring filters that have 99.997% efficiency for particles 0.3 microns in size and 95% efficiency for particles 0.1 microns in size. This level of filtration is crucial for capturing the smallest and most dangerous particles that could pose health risks.

Maintaining Equipment and Work Environment

Fume extractors protect workers and help maintain the equipment and work environment. By clearing the laser lens of smoke and particulate debris, they ensure consistent code quality and prevent damage to the laser system. Additionally, they help keep the production area clean and odor-free, contributing to a safer and more pleasant working environment.

It is essential that the filters in the fume extraction system are the correct type for your application and that they are replaced when needed.

Conclusion

The installation of particle and fume extraction systems is a necessary investment for any business utilizing laser coding technologies. These systems safeguard the health of workers, preserve equipment functionality, and ensure the overall quality of the coding process. As laser coding continues to grow in popularity, the role of fume extraction will become even more pivotal in industrial settings.

If you are looking to install laser technology for your packaging line, be sure to discuss fume and particle extraction as well as safety guarding with your vendor.


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