Awards & Engraving

December '18

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30 • A&E DECEMBER 2018 Laser engravers are an amazing tool for creating products with almost unlimited potential — the only limitations being your imagination to dream up new projects and designs, and of course the time to finish the projects. Like all pieces of industrial equip- ment, there are recommended safety and maintenance requirements. For this article, we focus on fume/particulate extraction system operation and maintenance. Every laser application creates by- products from the laser process, with the safest and most effective solution to cap- ture these being an extraction system. A correctly spec'd extraction system should be rated to handle the air flow necessary to adequately remove the fumes and par- ticulate from the bed of the engraving laser during the laser process. Note: The cor- rect recommendation is also influenced by the hours of anticipated daily and weekly production as well as the substrates you will laser. Laser cutting generally produces much higher fume and particulate content than a laser coding/marking application, so keep this in mind. For the fume/particulate extraction system, there are simple periodic checks and general maintenance procedures that are an important part to ensure that you are working in a healthy, safe, and productive environment. HOW OFTEN DO YOU DO IT? A good rule of thumb to follow is the daily, weekly, monthly, and semi-annual routine. Following is an outline for each one. The Basics of John Podwojski is the general manager of BOFA Americas. He has been with the company for 10 years and can be reached at john. By John Podwojski Daily Check that you have your extraction system running at the optimum air flow rate to ensure that all of the fumes and particulate created by the laser process are being captured. A visual inspection normally works best. While operating the laser, watch to see if the fumes and smoke from the process are being swiftly pulled into the hose connection kit of the extractor. The illustration below shows a system set up to operate at an air flow rate of 120 CFM (cubic feet per minute). Note: Increase or decrease the flow rate as needed for your specific application. Your machine may display differently, so consult your manual. A system set up to operate at an air flow rate of 120 CFM (cubic feet per minute). ALL IMAGES COURTESY JOHN PODWOJSKI Weekly Extraction systems are generally directly connected to the laser via a hose kit. Check that the hose connection kit is securely connected to both the laser and extraction system. Also check that there are no visible cracks or cuts in the hose kit. Monthly Perform the same daily and weekly proce- dures but also double check to see if there is any buildup of debris inside of the engraving laser bed. Turn off the laser engraving machine and the extraction system, open the lid or cover of the laser, and physically look inside of the manifold area for any buildup of particulate or debris. Clean as necessary by hand or use an ordinary shop vac for removal. Note: Wear a dust mask during this procedure to avoid breathing in any small particulate. Semi-Annual Perform the same daily, weekly, and monthly procedures with the added pro- cess of removing the hose kit from both the extraction system and laser and check for cracks, cuts, or buildup of debris. Clean out or replace the hose kit as necessary and then re-install. Note: As in the monthly proce- dure, wear a dust mask during this procedure to avoid breathing in any small particulate. If the hose kit needs replacement, ensure that you use flex hose, which carries a flame- retardant rating and is smooth bore on the inside. The hose will be more efficient from an air flow standpoint and will mitigate any risk to the hose catching fire from burning embers during the laser process. FUME EXTRACTOR MAINTENANCE

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