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"Friking LASER BEAMS" and safety -- looking for goggle information!

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  • "Friking LASER BEAMS" and safety -- looking for goggle information!

    Ok... I am being cross-trained to operate the FRIKING LASER!!! machine at work. This is an enormous flatbed... over which flies a CNC-guided laser head. It cuts super-accurate shapes in sheet-metal... which we turn into actual products that customers pay for.

    It's a CO2 laser... when it pierces a sheet to begin cutting there is an intense laser flash.

    I am told that I do not need "special goggles" for this laser... then again I was told that the coolant I use in my machines was "harmless." Somehow I ended up with crippling dermatitis, no joke. Thanks to communication, MSDS sheets, information from doctors and a phone-call to the material supplier that was fixed forthwith.

    Anyway, I would prefer to head this off this time. Don't want to suffer terminal eyeball failure or optic-nerve irritation or something along those lines.

    What is out there goggle-wise. I see different colors, degrees of reflectivity, and so on. Specifically I watch the laser while it cuts the first pieces of a run, so I am exposed to the flash for about 5 min out of every hour eight hours a day.

    Advice and information would be greatly appreciated!
    "The Administration does not support blowing up planets." --- Finally some SENSIBLE policy from the Gov!

  • #2
    Lasers are very cool to operate, but you are right to be concerned about the flash. Find out who supplies the safety glasses for your shop and insist the company provide you with the proper eye protection. If you are in a union shop get your steward or local president to help you. If the shop is not organized contact OSHA post haste.

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    • #3
      CO2 lasers emit light in the infrared spectrum, so the flash you are seeing is most likely the material being cut reaching high temps, not laser light.

      Infrared wavelength doesn't pass through the cornea, lens, and vitreous humour of the eye so retina damage is unlikely, but the front of the eye can be burned, as can any exposed skin.

      Acrylic, glass and polycarbonates are reasonably opaque to infrared, so they could be used as safety goggles.

      HTH.

      Steve.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Grind Bastard
        Ok... I am being cross-trained to operate the FRIKING LASER!!! machine at work. This is an enormous flatbed... over which flies a CNC-guided laser head. It cuts super-accurate shapes in sheet-metal... which we turn into actual products that customers pay for.

        It's a CO2 laser... when it pierces a sheet to begin cutting there is an intense laser flash.

        I am told that I do not need "special goggles" for this laser... then again I was told that the coolant I use in my machines was "harmless." Somehow I ended up with crippling dermatitis, no joke. Thanks to communication, MSDS sheets, information from doctors and a phone-call to the material supplier that was fixed forthwith.

        Anyway, I would prefer to head this off this time. Don't want to suffer terminal eyeball failure or optic-nerve irritation or something along those lines.

        What is out there goggle-wise. I see different colors, degrees of reflectivity, and so on. Specifically I watch the laser while it cuts the first pieces of a run, so I am exposed to the flash for about 5 min out of every hour eight hours a day.

        Advice and information would be greatly appreciated!
        Advice but no real information: You are right to be concerned. If the laser can cut sheet metal, the reflections can fry your retinas (rentinae?). Suggest that the person who said "no special goggles" join you for your next shift along with their nearest infant relative. After all, if it's safe for you it will be safe for them. (Yeah, like that's gonna happen).

        Edited to add: Maybe it's perfectly safe if it all works as intended. After all, what could possibly go wrong? Just look at the perfect safety records of the Titanic and Hindenburg.
        Last edited by Gravy; 10-08-2011, 10:32 PM.

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        • #5
          I have been with this company long enough to know that hardball will get me nowhere.

          Lead by example is the best solution for this situation. If I start wearing them then other people will ask me why. Then they will ask where they can get them.

          This method has worked on several safety related issues here... and it will work on this one too.
          "The Administration does not support blowing up planets." --- Finally some SENSIBLE policy from the Gov!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Grind Bastard
            I have been with this company long enough to know that hardball will get me nowhere.

            Lead by example is the best solution for this situation. If I start wearing them then other people will ask me why. Then they will ask where they can get them.

            This method has worked on several safety related issues here... and it will work on this one too.
            Good point. I may have been a trifle overly dramatic. So how about "What eye protection is appropriate for direct or reflected exposure?"

            I have no idea, but I'm interested in the answer.

            Comment


            • #7
              Like mentioned above, the CO2 wavelength is so long it is completely absorbed by plastics, glass, and just about everything most people consider transparent. In fact, items we consider opaque, like silicon and germanium, are partially to fully transparent to IR at these longer wavelengths. Germanium, which is a silvery metal, is used for lenses on CO2 lasers and high end temp sensors.

              The flash from a CO2 laser piercing is harmless. Any scattered light would not even penetrate your cornea nevertheless cause retinal damage that is caused from visible, near IR, and longer UV wavelength lasers.

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              • #8
                What does the OEM suggest ?

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                • #9
                  What eye protection is appropriate for direct or reflected exposure?
                  There is no recommended eye protection against direct exposure other than steel shutters. It is able to cut metal, eyeballs are trivial. The machine is designed with multiple interlocks to prevent operator exposure to direct or reflected light. It is probably oxygen assisted which is in part what creates the flash like a cutting torch. If it makes you feel better light green gas welding glasses will cut the IR at all wavelengths by 97% or more.
                  Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                  • #10
                    Warning sign in laser lab! For real.

                    Hi Everyone,

                    I couldn't resist telling of the sign that was posted in a university's lab where they used lasers.

                    WARNING!

                    DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY INTO LASER WITH REMAINING GOOD EYE!

                    Best wishes to ya’ll.

                    Sincerely,

                    Jim

                    "To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk" - Thomas Edison

                    "I've always wanted to get a job as a procrastinator but I keep putting off going out to find one so I guess I'll never realize my life's dream. Frustrating!" - Me

                    Location: Bustling N.E. Arizona

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Evan
                      It is probably oxygen assisted which is in part what creates the flash like a cutting torch. If it makes you feel better light green gas welding glasses will cut the IR at all wavelengths by 97% or more.
                      We run mostly nitrogen. We reserve the oxygen for thick steel plate.

                      So what I am taking away here is the flash is harmless and I shouldn't worry about it? Is that the general consensus here?
                      "The Administration does not support blowing up planets." --- Finally some SENSIBLE policy from the Gov!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Grind Bastard
                        We run mostly nitrogen. We reserve the oxygen for thick steel plate.

                        So what I am taking away here is the flash is harmless and I shouldn't worry about it? Is that the general consensus here?
                        You should always worry about your eyes - (& flashers offering sweets )

                        ALWAYS wear the appropriate protection
                        John

                        I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure , but I'm not a complete idiot - some bits are still missing

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Grind Bastard
                          So what I am taking away here is the flash is harmless and I shouldn't worry about it? Is that the general consensus here?
                          Just me but when my health and safety is at risk I couldn't care less about the general consensus from a group of largely anonymous people with unknown technical qualifications. Seems like there was a good lesson with your coolant experience.

                          Get and read the manufacturer's safety documentation.

                          Steve
                          Last edited by SteveF; 10-09-2011, 08:28 AM.

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                          • #14
                            I am going to grab a pair of "casual welder" goggles tomorrow. These are tinted/coated lenses that we issue folks when they have to work near the welding department or when the welding department comes to them.

                            They reduce stray arc-flash to a tolerable level. They DO NOT enable you to watch the welder.

                            Better than nothing at all while I research this further.
                            "The Administration does not support blowing up planets." --- Finally some SENSIBLE policy from the Gov!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Seriously? Are we serious?

                              I wouldn't turn on the machine until I knew for sure I wasn't going to blind myself. I'd go to the manufacturer and get the facts.

                              +1 steveF

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