Laser Cutting Fume Extraction

Laser cutting is popular for its high cutting speed and precision. Factories use it in a wide variety of applications. A CNC laser cutter vaporizes the cut material or blasts it away with a jet of gas. Because both mechanisms produce smoke and fumes,  they require fume extraction.

While plasma cutting can handle thicker pieces of metal, lasers produce very precise cuts and very clean edges. Industrial laser cutting machines typically use one of two types of lasers:

  • First, there are CO2 lasers and other gas state lasers, usually nitrogen or oxygen. These are often used when cutting non-metals, less powerful but also much less expensive than solid-state lasers
  • Second, you’ll find solid-state lasers. These use crystals or optical fibers made of special materials (such as neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet, or Nd:YAG). They are high-powered but much more expensive to purchase and replace.

Laser cutting methods include:

  • Fusion cutting (an inert gas melts and then blasts away the material)
  • Chemical degradation (use on organic material like wood that burns)
  • Evaporation cutting (produces a very clean cut on plastics and acrylics)
  • Thermal stress cracking (usually used on glass, which breaks along the heat-created crack)
  • Oxidation or reactive cutting (often used to cut metal, since oxygen reacts with the metal to speed up the cutting)
  • Oxidation or reactive cutting (oxygen reacts with the metal  to speed up the cutting)

All these processes produce smoke and fumes requiring a fume extraction system. However, the exact design of the system will depend on the type of cutting process and the material being cut. Because laser cuts tend to produce fewer fumes than plasma cutting, a laser fume extractor may not need to be as large.

Laser cutting dust may or may not be combustible. If it’s not known whether the material is combustible, send a sample for testing. This will determine the fire safety features needed to meet NFPA and OSHA standards.

Possible Equipment

CMAXX laser cutting fume extractor

When looking for a laser cutting fume extractor, consider the company’s experience in this process.

The CMAXX Laser is designed for laser cutting fumes with its low profile and heavy-duty construction.  Also noteworthy are its efficient DeltaMAXX filters. Imperial Systems can work with you on a system that is certain to meet your specific needs. 

We have more information on hazardous materials and combustible dust produced by metal cutting. Please see our white papers for more details.