One of the major hazards associated with laser cutting operations is fire accidents. Fire may cause costly damage to equipment but also seriously injure equipment operators and those working in the surrounding area. Therefore, it is important for owners or managers of manufacturing facilities using laser cutters to take all necessary steps to ensure their equipment, employees and facilities are adequately protected against the risk of fire hazards.
Below are some useful tips that will help minimise fire hazards associated with your laser cutting system:
Make sure your laser system is always clean
The presence of material residue in the interior of your cutter is dangerous and can cause a fire hazard. Typically some small pieces of debris will build up in the table tray after you are done with your cutting job. These small pieces can easily catch fire, particularly if they are left unattended over time and a more powerful light is used for a different cutting application in the future. Therefore, make sure to properly clean the interior of your equipment after every job to rid of any residue that may combust under the operating temperatures. In addition, you should keep the area around your equipment free of any combustible clutter and inflammable solvents.
Never leave your laser system unattended
Most laser cutting systems are automated, but that does not mean you shouldn't monitor the operations of your cutters. Like with any other mechanical equipment, a slight operational glitch may occur when no one is around to keep watch, and this may lead to a major fire hazard. Assign a competent team of workers to monitor the operations of the laser cutting, and instruct the workers to abort the job should any hitches arise.
Be extra cautious when vector cutting
Cutting things out using the vector action always has the potential to cause the workpiece to burst abruptly into flames. This can occur even with materials you may be accustomed to working on. Turning on the air assist feature when vector cutting will minimise the occurrence of flare-ups, especially when working with highly combustible materials such as cloth, wood and plastics.
Always arm yourself with fire extinguishers
The saying 'better safe than sorry' could never be any truer than with laser cutting. It is a good idea to always keep a well-maintained fire extinguisher within reach just in case a fire accident does happen. Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers would be a perfect choice for your laser cutting jobs because these fire extinguishers do not contain chemicals that would damage the optics or mechanics of your laser system.