Laser Welding Safety Concerns
The word LASER is actually an acronym for:
L – Light
A – Amplification (by)
S – Stimulated
E – Emission (of)
R – Radiation
Laser technology is quite amazing, and capable of some tremendous feats, especially in the welding realm. There are, however, some serious safety concerns that you should always keep in mind when operating laser welding equipment.
5 Primary Laser Welding Safety Issues:
- Eyes – If your eyes are exposed to lasers transmitting light in certain wavelengths, you may experience cornea or retinal burns. Chromic exposure can result in cataracts or severe retinal burns, seriously impacting your vision, and possibly resulting in a total loss of sight. Laser light in the visible or near the infrared spectrum can damage the retina, creating a scotoma—a blind spot in your field of vision. Laser light in the ultraviolet range can damage the cornea or lens of the eye. Exposure to all types of laser light described above have the potential to cause permanent vision loss.
- Skin – Your skin can be burned if it comes into direct contact with a laser beam. Most low powered lasers (below 5 watts) will not burn your skin unless the laser beam remains trained in the same area for an extended period of time (4 to 5 seconds). Higher powered lasers, however, can cause severe skin burn instantaneously. The lesion resulting from a laser burn resembles a cancerous surface melanoma, and generally takes quite a while to heal. On an even more serious note, chronic exposure to ultraviolet laser light can lead to several forms of cancer.
- Chemical – Certain types of Lasers, such as Chemical Dye and Excimer lasers, run in part with the use of hazardous, toxic chemicals. Obviously, inhaling, ingesting, eye exposure and direct skin exposure to any of these substances is bad news, as they can make you severely ill or possibly result in death.
- Electrical – Nearly all lasers are powered by high voltage electrical output, and the possibility of electrocution is a concern, as is the case when working with any high voltage electrical equipment.
- Fire – Dye lasers use highly flammable solvents, and represent a fire hazard. Flammable materials can be ignited by a direct blast or flash from a laser beam. Indirect reflections resulting from a laser beam bouncing off of other materials can also ignite flammable materials.
There’s no doubt laser welding technology is pretty cool stuff, that’s destines to see a wider scope of use in many different fields. But as you should remember with all welding equipment: safety first!
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