Computer Laboratory

Risk assessments

LaserPro Spirit GX laser cutter

Research group and location

Computer Architecture Group hardware laboratory: room SE17

Description of the laser

The LaserPro Spirit GX is a computer-controlled enclosed laser cutter for cutting shapes out of wood and plastic sheets. If contains a sealed CO2 laser that can emit a continuous 40-watt beam of 10.6 µm infrared radiation. The beam is focused onto the cutting target via a system of mirrors and lenses that are mounted onto a servo-controlled XYZ stage. The head of that stage also emits a red guidance pointer produced by a Class 3R laser diode (630–680 nm, < 5 mW).

The cutting laser is deactivated by a double-switch safety interlock as soon as the operator opens the safety enclosure.

The system is equipped with a fume extractor and filter, the outlet of which is connected directly to the outside of the building, via a vent hole that was installed in room SE17 for this purpose.

Identified hazards

  • The infrared cutting laser has been classified by the vendor as a Class 1 device, because the enclosure and safety interlocks prevent exposing the users to the cutting beam. The embedded cutting laser without these safety measures would be a Class 4 device, which could cause skin burns and severe eye damage, the latter even after diffuse reflection.
  • The red marking laser has been classified by the vendor as a Class 3R laser product. Users could expose their eyes to the beam through specular reflection, which could possibly cause eye damage.
  • The cutting process may produce harmful fumes and the cutted material could catch fire.

Local rules for safe use

  • Only users trained and authorized by Simon Moore or Brian Jones may use the machine.
  • Familiarize yourselves with the device's User Manual, and pay in particular attention to chapter I: Safety.
  • The laser cutter must only be operated in room SE17, with the air extractor on and connected to the wall outlet.
  • Let the air extractor run for at least 20 seconds after the end of the cutting process before opeing the lid, to allow it to remove fumes before they can enter the room.
  • Do not operate the laser cutter unattended, even for brief periods, due to the fire risk.
  • Check for the presence of the nearest CO2 fire extinguisher (in the SC33 staircase landing).
  • Do not cut reflective materials, heat-sensitive surfaces or materials that may produce toxic substances or corrosion problems, such as PVC or Teflon.
  • Do not bring any objects capable of specular reflection into the path of the marker laser, as specular reflection of the marker laser light may pose a risk of retina damage.
  • Do wear the provided protective goggles for 10.6 nm light (filter grade OD5+) while the lid of the device is open, as an additional protection of your eye from the cutting-laser light, in case the safety-interlock fails.

Contingencies

If there is any laser incident or accident at the department, inform the Departmental Laser Officer and the Departmental Safety Officer.

If an eye injury is suspected, the injured person should consult Occupational Health if possible and see a specialist ophthalmologist within 24 hours (at Addenbrookes Hospital or Moorfields Eye Hospital). The injured person must not drive.

See Safe Use of Lasers, Section 11.9 (page 58) for more information and emergency contact details.

Servicing

Consult the Departmental Laser Safety Officer in case this laser cutter is to be serviced on site.