[hackspacebristol] Contact: Laser Cutter

Tom Gardner tggzzz+hs at gmail.com
Sun Apr 14 21:04:17 UTC 2013

On 14 April 2013 20:43, Barney Livingston <barney at barnoid.org.uk> wrote:

> On Sunday 14 Apr 2013 16:22:18 Tom Gardner wrote:
> > Dominic Morrow wrote:
> >
> > > The window in the top of the laser is more than adequate for defusing
> the
> > > very week and focused beam of our 40w laser.
> >
> > If you can see an image through the window then the window is
> demonstrably *
> > not* diffusing light!
> I was under the impression that the lid of the laser cutter is opaque to
> the
> infrared light of the laser beam. I very much hope that's true given the
> amount of time I've spent staring at laser cutters working.

I certainly hope that is the case, but since I can't locate a manual on the
web I have no idea of the extent to which it is true.  I'm sure that some
laser light could get through window, the percentage depending on the
wavelength, window material and thickness. An infra-red laser won't provoke
the blink reflex. But you knew all that!

Is there a manual available in the workshop?

> As for the original idea of a list of laser cuttable materials displayed
> somewhere near the laser, I think it's a good idea. Perhaps a few reminder
> points on safe laser operation as well.

Yes indeed; it is a simple easy precaution which will help trap out most
mistakes, i.e. those due to ignorance or forgetfulness. There's not much we
can do about stupidity, especially those that think they know more than
they do know. It is an aphorism that "you can't make things foolproof since
fools are so damn ingenious". When we're in a pub, ask me about "bigfoot",
the capacitor, the PCB and the fire.

It does, of course, raise the question of what makes someone qualified to
do the laser induction.

> Also a big sign saying "NOT FOR USE BY
> PEOPLE WHO HAVE NOT BEEN INDUCTED (INDUCED?)" And similar signs on the
> lathes,
> CNC, etc.

Yes.  (The classic with lathe is to leave the chuck key in the chuck, and
turn the lathe on. I've never been close to doing that. Oh no. Not me.
Never ever.)

It would help newbies if the signs indicated who was "qualified" to do the

In other safety conscious environments I've worked in it is also considered
necessary to

   - have occasional (e.g. annual) safety refreshers - if not then the
   general experience is that safety is gradually eroded over time. Such
   refreshers can be low-key and needn't be at all onerous
   - explicitly keep an eye out (ho ho) on everybody else, to see how
   safety can be maintained/improved
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