Laser Machines Materials & Emissions

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Materials and Emissions


Fume filtration units and VOC's.

Lasers are an essential tool in industry for cutting, marking and engraving a vast range of materials (plastics, paper, wood and more).

In virtually all the above operations, some form of fume is given off as the laser thermally decomposes the substrate to a greater or lesser degree. This fume is a mixture of particulate and gaseous matter.

Fumes from materials such as glass are mainly particulate, the majority of which is less than 1µ (micron) in diameter. Organic materials, particularly plastics, produce much more complex fumes.

Most particles are spherical and roughly 90% by weight are less than 1µ in diameter. These particles fall within the respirable range and need to be removed from the working environment to prevent bronchal or lung damage. The gaseous organic compounds produced are known as Volatile Organic Compounds, VOC's.


The VOC's produced are a mixture of the following:

  • Aliphatic hydrocarbons: alkane, alkene
  • Aromatic hydrocarbons: benzene, toluene, xylene
  • Aldehyde: formaldehyde
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: benzo(a)pyrene
  • Some materials have other specific groups e.g. PVC polymers generate HCl, 2 component epoxy polymers yield amines and PET generates THF.

A considerable number of the above have occupational exposure limits set for them. Obviously, as with the particulate element these gases need removing from the workplace.


Materials and Emissions

CO2 lasers are commonly used to code, mark, engrave, weld or cut components or products which are manufactured from a variety of materials. Hazardous fumes and dust are produced when the substrate, lacquer, paint or coating is marked or cut. CTR filter systems not only ensure compliance with International Health and Safety Law but also deliver actual cost savings to the production process.

Please see the below tables for details on materials, emissions and possible health issues.

Emissions Produced During Laser Processing of Non-Metals
Kevlar Respirable dust Benzene, HCN, No2, PAHs
Polycarbonate (PC) Respirable dust, Cresol Phenol, Benzene
Polyamide (PA) Respirable dust, Methanal 1,3-Butadiene, PAHs, Propenal, Benzene
Polypropylene (PP) Respirable dust 1,3-Butadiene, Propenal, Benzene
Polyethylene (PE) Respirable dust 1,3-Butadiene, Propenal, Benzene
Poly (vinyl chloride) (PVC) Respirable dust, HCL Benzene, Methanal, PAHs, Phosgene
Rubber (SBR-man made) Respirable dust, 1,3-Butadiene Styrene, PAHs, Propenal, Benzene
Polyester (PET) Respirable dust Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene
Polystyrene (PS) Respirable dust, Styrene Benzene, Toluene, PAHs
Polyurethane (PU) Respirable dust Benzene, Toluene
Poly (PMMA)
(methyl methacrylate)
Respirable dust MMA, Benzene, Ethylacrylate


Possible Effect of Emissions on Personnel
EMISSION Possible Effect on Personnel
 Respirable dust  Occupational asthma
 Cresol  Damage to liver/kidneys, dermatitis,cancer
 NO/NO2  Asphyxia
 Phenol  Damage to liver/kidneys, digestive disorders
 Phosgene  Pulmonary oedema
 Benzene  Known carcinogen - Leukaemia
 HCN  Respiratory failure
 Chromium  Lung cancer, damage to liver and kidneys
 Methanal  Severe skin and eye irritant
 Nickel  Lung cancer, dermatitis
 Styrene  Poisonous, irritant of respiratory tract


Benzene 9
1,3 Butadienne 22
Formaldehyde 2.5
Methylmethacrylate 208
Phenol 20
Creois 22
Toluene 191
Hydrogen Chloride 2
Phosgene 0.08
Methylamine 13
THF (Tetrahydrofuran) 300