The Right Environment for a Laser Cutter
The environment where you operate your laser cutter or laser engraver has a fundamental influence on the efficiency, reliability and long-term working life of the machine and its components.
All lasers generate heat as a by-product of the process inefficiencies so the room temperature is of a major concern. Overheating can cause a catastrophic and somewhat expensive failure of the laser. The effective removal and control of this heat is key to prolonged and reliable use. All lasers will have an inbuilt cooling mechanism by way of fans (air-cooling) or some kind of chiller unit (water-cooling).
Most people understand this, however, an often overlooked aspect to temperature is how cold the environment gets, especially when the laser cutter is not in use. Even in the hottest of countries the temperature can fall to below freezing overnight.
During weekends and other non-working days, some environments are not temperature controlled so the temperature can fall/rise to abnormal levels. Extremes of temperature will cause many elements within the machine to expand and contract. This is particularly bad for RF lasers manufactured from metal.
Humidity is another influencing factor. High humidity, especially when combined with rapid changes in temperature, can cause condensation to form on sensitive electronics components, in turn causing those components to short-circuit.
An ideal ambient temperature for the room is between 15-30c. Rapid changes in room temperature can also cause adverse reactions. For these reasons we see spikes in support calls after times of long public holidays, such as Christmas for example.
Dusty and oily environments are not suitable to site a laser cutting machine because a build-up of dust/oil can cause components to overheat, moving parts can seize-up and optical components can fail through external contamination
Laser cutting machines should not be placed near to any source of heat/cold/air such as radiators, fans or air conditioning units and they must not be placed near to south facing windows where solar gain may cause overheating issues.
As with any form of electrical device a laser cutter must be protected from water and any form of moisture as well as unstable power supplies.
Some workshops incorporate machines that generate significant vibration, which can cause optical elements in the laser cutter to misalign
The floor type is often overlooked as a potential influencing factor. All laser cutters should be placed on a flat and stable floor. As the machine becomes larger and heavier this is more of an issue. Mezzanine and other flexible types of floor are not suitable as they can cause the system frame to twist in turn causing the motion system to bind.
If the environment is industrial and the above factors cannot be mitigated consider building a room within it where the laser can be isolated from the potentially harmful factors of the main factory area
As a general rule of thumb, the best environment to place your laser cutter is one where you are comfortable to work while wearing normal, office style clothing.
At Lotus Laser Systems we manufacture a wide range laser, marking and engraving solutions and we have installed machines all over the World to the widest range of environments. Our experts would be happy to advise you on this or any other aspect of your laser system installation.
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