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Old 11-03-2008, 08:49 PM #1
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Default CO2 laser safety

I think i'm picking one of the 10Watt CO2 tubes in the group buy going on right now and I was wondering what precautions i should take because i've never owned such a powerful laser before. granted its not one of the standard 50W co2 lasers, i think 10watt is still pretty dangerous.

i'm getting a pair of oemlasersystem's co2 glasses for my eyes, but is there anyway i can contain the laser beam within a given area? i dont want it to hit something and reflect off and cause random beam scattering (or is this a non issue with 10600nm?) if someone were to accidentally walk in front of the beam for a split second, would they get burned?

thanks in advance!


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Old 11-04-2008, 11:46 PM #2
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Default Re: CO2 laser safety

Quote:
Originally Posted by r34p3rex
I think i'm picking one of the 10Watt CO2 tubes in the group buy going on right now and I was wondering what precautions i should take because i've never owned such a powerful laser before. granted its not one of the standard 50W co2 lasers, i think 10watt is still pretty dangerous.

i'm getting a pair of oemlasersystem's co2 glasses for my eyes, but is there anyway i can contain the laser beam within a given area? i dont want it to hit something and reflect off and cause random beam scattering (or is this a non issue with 10600nm?) if someone were to accidentally walk in front of the beam for a split second, would they get burned?

thanks in advance!
Get something matte and non reflective to terminate the beam, and put something up to keep people from walking into it. (Like that yellow "DANGER" tape) They wouldn't get burned to quickly or badly, but it would add up if they weren't moving quickly. Make sure everyone in the room has safety goggles, and are aware of the laser, and the damage it could cause.
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Old 11-06-2008, 07:41 AM #3
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Default Re: CO2 laser safety

You can terminate the beam with a brick if you want. Also you don't need fancy goggles to block a co2 laser. Any plastic safety goggles will protect your eyes from indirect exposure. Co2 lasers don't burn your retinas because their wavelength can't pass through your cornea. I would be more worried about the high voltage needed to operate the laser. As long as the laser doesn't directly hit your eye you should be fine. Also the beam will burn your skin, but at 10W it won't do that much damage and I can guarantee that you'll move your hand/other body part out of the beam in a hurry.
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Old 11-06-2008, 06:57 PM #4
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Default Re: CO2 laser safety

It can still be pretty painful. Btw, I don't think any HV is involved, those are RF excited units. :-/
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Old 11-07-2008, 04:36 AM #5
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Default Re: CO2 laser safety

One thing to consider with a CO2 laser is the containment of the beam. Most everyone here has visible light lasers that are harmless if you pass your hand or walk thru the beam. If you're used to working with visible light lasers, IR can a little tricky.

10 watts of CO2 wavelength is a different story than 10 watts of near-IR 808 or similar diode lasers, especially if it hits your skin. Skin absorbs 98% of that wavelength. It is also powerful enough to ignite or burn clothing. Basically you don't want to position your laser so that there is any chance that you will accidentally walk thru (or put any part of your body thru) the beam. I almost did that with my CO2, when I had it cranked up to 20 watts. It's not the end of the world, but I'm sure it would hurt to get burned by a CO2 laser. Being that the beam is completely invisible, there is a tendency to forget that it's there - it kind of fools your mind.

The best thing to do is keep the area between the laser and what you are using as a beam stop fairly short; also, the beam will diverge quite a bit, and be less effective the further you get from the laser. Mine quits burning after about 20 feet, even at full power.

One other thing - it's a good idea to not to burn stuff too close to the laser aperture (of course that's true with any laser, but the optics are a lot more costly with CO2 lasers). I turn on a small desk fan and blow any smoke from burning away from the laser and focusing lens. If you do get a lens, try to get as long a focal length as you can find - that will help keep stuff from getting on the lens.

So basically just be sure to wear your goggles (which as noted can be any clear plastic safety goggles) and keep your body out of the path of the beam.
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Old 11-07-2008, 12:11 PM #6
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Default Re: CO2 laser safety

What about reflections? What is a good mirror for 10.6um? A regular mirror probably wouldn't , but what about a front surface metal coated one? Or even a very shiny piece of metal... :-/
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Old 11-08-2008, 03:47 AM #7
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Default Re: CO2 laser safety

Quote:
Originally Posted by Switch
What about reflections? What is a good mirror for 10.6um? A regular mirror probably wouldn't , but what about a front surface metal coated one? Or even a very shiny piece of metal... :-/
One time I decided to put a double-edged razor blade in the path of my CO2 beam. The blade had a dull metal finish to my eyes (no where near what you'd call shiny) and I didn't expect much of anything. But the beam reflected quite well off the steel and hit the housing of the focusing lens, burning the duct tape on it. So even that which doesn't appear very reflective (metals, especially) to our eyes is VERY reflective to the 10.6um beam. BTW, where I worked they used polished copper mirrors coated with gold to reflect the CO2 beam. Highly polished metal should surely work, considering "dull" metal still will reflect the beam.
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Old 11-09-2008, 02:08 PM #8
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Default Re: CO2 laser safety

So that's an important thing to consider about CO[sub]2[/sub] laser safety. Wouldn't want the beam reflecting on your face or something. :
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Old 11-11-2008, 08:49 PM #9
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Default Re: CO2 laser safety

1. Contain the beam. Even non focused, you could start a couch burning and cause a fire. I almost did that with 15 watts :
2. Lenses are typically ZnSe and can be $$$$. Look on ebay or ask
Chris what he has left in stock.
3. The beam can shatter some glass.
Be careful and be safe.

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Old 11-13-2008, 07:40 PM #10
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Default Re: CO2 laser safety

Quote:
Originally Posted by Switch
What about reflections? What is a good mirror for 10.6um? A regular mirror probably wouldn't , but what about a front surface metal coated one? Or even a very shiny piece of metal... :-/
I have tested a regular mirror with my CO2 laser... It was been destroyed in a moment,
then the regular mirrors can't be used with this wavelength.
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