The safety classes of a laser engraving machine

The safety classes of a laser engraving machine

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If you decide to buy a laser engraving machine you need to give consideration as to how to operate the machine safely. The benefit being the safety of the operator.  How safely you operate the machine will have a direct impact on the success of your business. It is for these reasons why it is important to be aware of the correct safety procedures or it could result in hazards when operating the laser systems.

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How to determine the danger level of a laser

Lasers are classified for safety purposes. This is based on their potential for causing harm to people eyes and skin. Therefore the best way to determine the danger level of a laser is to be aware of the hazard class that the laser can be in. Most lasers are required by law to be listed in a class. Classes start at 1 and go to 4. The difference between various laser classes is the actual hazard which is based on the laser output levels such as power, energy and pulse characteristics and its wavelength.  The higher the class, the more dangerous the hazard could potentially be. Therefore Class 3B and Class 4 are the most dangerous category of lasers.

The laser classes explained

For example for lasers in class 1 the accessible laser radiation may be visible or invisible but it is harmless will bear no risks for humans and their environment because of the low level of laser radiation remains below 26 microwatts

However just because a laser product is in class 1 does not mean there are no other risks present. Lasers in class 1 still have electrical shock and fire risks.

Whereas Class 4 is the highest level of danger to humans and their environment. This can result in serious injuries to the eyes and burns to the skin.

The most powerful laser classes

There are 2 types:

  • Continuous wave (CW)
  • Pulsed

Class 3B Lasers are moderate-power lasers. The accessible laser radiation may be visible or invisible. Direct radiation is harmful to the eyes and skin although diffused radiation is harmless. As a general statement, these 3B class lasers do not pose a risk of a fire.

Class 4 Lasers are high-power lasers with a power greater than 500 mW. The accessible laser radiation may be visible or invisible. However, unlike class 3B, both direct and diffuse radiation is extremely harmful to eyes and skin and can pose a fire risk if in contact with flammable materials.

Therefore there lasers in this class are potential fire and skin hazards and it is dangerous to view the beam either directly or through diffuse scattering.

When considering purchasing a laser engraving system, buyers must be aware and comply with the health and safety requirements to operate the machine safely.  The class of the laser can be used to help decide what safety control measures are required when using the laser.



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