Laser Cutter

A laser cutter is an automated machinery that emits a high-powered laser beam to cut sheet metals reducing manual cutting.

Description:

A laser cutter is an engineering control that can reduce musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) from manual cutting and the risk of cuts.  It is a computer numerical control (CNC) machine that receives cutting specifications from a computer and emits a high powered laser beam to cut metal. High pressured gas removes the material. Typical laser beams have a kerf of 0.2 mm in diameter and have a power of 1000-4000 W. The quality of the cut is dependent upon the choice of laser, beam quality, and the power. Many laser cutting techniques are available and CO2 is most commonly used.
Laser cutters work best on metals with the ability to absorb and conduct heat, such as carbon steels or stainless steels. Standard laser cutting is not recommended for metals with low abilities to absorb and conduct heat, such as copper and aluminum. These metals require either waterjet cutting or more powerful lasers.
 
The laser emitted from the laser cutter melts the material and leaves a finished edge, instead of a sharp or rough edge that may result from manual cutting. A finished edge may be desirable. However, if further fabrication is required, hardening of the edges may be a problem.

     Laser Cutting Machine without Cover
 

A laser cutter is a CNC machine that receives cutting specifications from a computer and emits a high powered laser beam to cut metal. High pressured gas removes the material. Typical laser beams have a kerf of 0.2 mm in diameter and have a power of 1000-4000 W. The quality of the cut is dependent upon the choice of laser, beam quality, and the power. Many laser cutting techniques are available and CO2 is most commonly used.

Laser cutters work best on metals with the ability to absorb and conduct heat, such as carbon steels or stainless steels. Standard laser cutting is not recommended for metals with low abilities to absorb and conduct heat, such as copper and aluminum. These metals require either waterjet cutting or more powerful lasers. 

The laser emitted from the laser cutter melts the material and leaves a finished edge, instead of a sharp or rough edge that may result from manual cutting. A finished edge may be desirable. However, if further fabrication is required, hardening of the edges may be a problem.

 


Risks Addressed:

Stooped postures can cause low back disorders, such as muscle strain or a disc herniation (“slipped disc”), which is bulging of disc material possibly pressing on the spinal cord or nerves that go into the leg.  The laser cutter can help reduce stooped postures by giving workers a space to make cuts closer to waist level. 

Stressful hand and wrist activity can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as muscle strains; tendonitis, which is inflammation of elbow and wrist tendons; or carpal tunnel syndrome, which is compression of a wrist nerve, resulting in finger numbness and loss of hand strength.  The laser cutter reduces the amount of stress placed on the hand and wrist by eliminating the need to make cuts manually. Lasers are able to make sharply contoured cuts in narrow-angle locations. 


How Risks are Reduced:

Compared to manual cutting techniques, laser cutting reduces the amount of stress placed on the hand and wrist. Awkward hand positioning required during manual cutting with hand tools puts the hand and wrist at risk for injury. Lasers are able to make sharply contoured cuts in narrow-angle locations. Also, since laser cutting is performed by a machine, manual material handling and stooped postures are reduced.

Safety and health experts state that laser cutters are able to easily perform precise tasks that would be difficult or impossible to achieve with manual cutting techniques. To achieve precise cuts with hand tools, the hand and wrist would have to be placed in awkward positions which could put the person at risk for injury. Since materials are often cut in bulk, manual handling and stooped postures may be minimized with the use of laser cutting.  

Effects on Productivity:

Laser cutting increases productivity by increasing product quality and decreasing the time needed to make precise cuts. 

Additional Considerations:

Laser cutting reduces the amount of physical contact with sharp edges that typically result from manually cut metal. Lasers emit heat and cause hardening, thereby eliminating sharp edges. In many situations, waterjet cutting may be used instead of laser cutting.

The use of lasers may create an eye injury hazard.  Eye protection should confirm to ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Z136.1 and the TLV requirements from ACGIH (American Conference of Government and Industrial Hygienists) for lasers, which conform to ANSI Z136.1. You can order the ANSI standards from www.webstore.ansi.org, or order the ACGIH guide at www.acgih.org or http://www.laserinstitute.org/store/LSAFPUB/104/.


Contributors:

Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC and Cassie Malecha, DPT – Eastern Washington University


Hazards Addressed:

Availability

World Lasers Inc.
To obtain information, visit Products and Services or contact 1-800-648-5164 grawley@worldlasers.com

Boss Laser LLC.
To obtain information, visit Laser Machinery or contact 1-407-917-5463 Sales@bosslaser.com

Return on Investment

To calculate the return on investment (ROI) for your specific application, please visit our Return on Investment Calculator. While a specific ROI example has not been developed for this particular solution, the ROI Calculator provides a useful tool and guidance on how to generate your own on investment analysis.