Fire Risk cause by Lasers and printers and how to reduce the risk

(Neil Scott) #1

I am new to this site and the use of a laser engraver, I see a lot of posts here and on facebook on lasers and 3d printers and the fire risk they present. I am making an enclosure for my Endurance laser diode machine non c02, This will enable the laser to be used in safety in the room where i am based and it will have to have a fume extraction system. one of the things i am thinking of installing is this to prevent a fire from spreading and also not to trash your laser or printer. I have put a project out to tender on upwork for a electronic firing mechanism that can be attached to a halon type extinguisher which will kill the power, turn off the extractor and fire the extinguisher all in under a second and save your printer or laser over the use of dry powder or Foam/Water, I came across this in my research today. This might save some of the work but not kill the extractor or power. The use of a Halon gas or similar will save your equipment when in most cases the fire is the workpiece and not the machine.

(Isaac Barbary) #2

That could save your house but not your laser. It is triggered by the melting of a fusible link. By the time it is triggered, the fire will be large enough to ruin the laser.

(Oz) #3

The absolute best thing you can do for safety is watch the machine when it’s running. At the very least, be present next to it and looking over every 30 seconds or so.

Some people think this is unrealistic, but electronics occasionally fail, so even though an auto extinguisher is a great backup, as Isaac says, it won’t prevent damage to the machine, and the false sense of security you get from having it there might lead you to take more risks than you otherwise would.

(Neil Scott) #4

I totally agree but in europe 3d printers and lasers have caused house fires by being left unattended, i realise this extinguisher is not perfect this is why I have tendered on upwork for a series electronics experts to come up with a design that would trigger the extinguisher in a series of ways such as a heat or using an infra red cameras and so on, the circuit would then instantly disable power to the machine and the ventilation power and trigger the extinguisher in under a second, I am waiting for experts to come back to me with a tender to see what costs are involved and what methods would be best to trigger. The point is to try and save the machine and extinguish the fire at the same time. I agree this extinguisher is not perfect and your machine would probably be wrecked by the time it triggers but if the guys in upwork can come up with something that is better, faster and can be reused then it might be worth pursuing, in which case i will come to the community with the idea and ask for donations to help fund the design and creation of a system to save our systems and houses. Fire safety is an important factor to me having worked in the industry. You should never leave your printer or laser unattended at any time, if you have a camera rigged up to it you should have a monitor with you at all times to see what is happening, American houses are much more susceptible to fire damage than european houses simply because of the construction methods. I have used upwork before to create a system to power Nixie tubes in a certain fashion and at the same time the Nixies count up and down they send a pulse to RGB Leds to fire these, I use this design in my steampunk lamps I make and it makes for an interesting light show. The cost of the design work and list of components and instructions on soldering the lot together was 75 usd and i felt was a bargain for what it can do.

(Justin Baker) #5

The best defense is good housekeeping of your machine. In this video Russ explains the dangers of the honeycomb and an alternative solution to using it. Also advises to clean up acrylic and other residuals after each use

(Marc) #6

If you want a very simple and safe system (no electronics or even mechanics) there has been a system used for years to protect engines (boats, planes).

They are simply two fire extinguishers connected to each other by a flexible hose that is passed over all areas that are likely to burn.

When a fire starts, it melts the pipe above the flame and automatically extinguishes the fire in the exact location.

But I don’t know if there are any systems that are small enough.
Check with the companies that maintain fire extinguishers.

However, the basic precaution is always to stay close to your machine to hear it and also to feel it.

(Dave Kearley) #7

Just a quickie…Halon is a banned product, which is a real shame as it was a brilliant fire extinguisher.

In a small room, its use can also kill the user due to suffocation, Co2 is safer and does not make much mess,

(Neil Scott) #8

Yes, I know its been banned from non commercial use for quite some time, some server farms still use it but the extinguisher i showed was not Halon but one made with other safe no toxic gasses to replace the air one of the 3 ingredients of combustion. You could use Co2 as well but its not as effective the trick with all these the triggering system, you need a system that can trigger within a second or so to get the fire out before it trashes your machine and house, That is what i am working on with engineers in Upwork to develop a trigger, a electric cutout for power and ventilation and the ability for the system to be reused again at little cost. were looking at cameras, stereo thermal ones, infra red, heat detectors etc etc, once i have something tendered to me i will show the community to see if we can have it funded and made. I am sure the takeup would be large if we could make a fire prevention system in the 50 usd range. Thats what i am aiming at. it would also be used in the 3d printer market.

(Robert canning) #9

then why the need for an auto fire suppression??? I’ dont get it

(Isaac Barbary) #10

To make it double secret safe!

(Bob Waterfield) #11

Not too hard to take a basic smoke detector (have one planned for my enclosure) and make it fire off an extinguisher.
But even if you don’t use an extinguisher, a basic smoke detector can save you. Would let you know you had a fire or your ventilation system failed.

(Neil Scott) #12

because people do leave their engravers alone and over here in europe some of us also have 3d printers which can run up printimes of 10 to 20 plus hours quite easily and its just no possible to stay at a printer with that length of time. camera monitoring helps but my feeling was of safety and to stop my laser or 3d printer being ruined by fire damage which is why i was looking at ways of triggering a device incredibly quickly, a smoke detector wont work the open diode lasers gives off smoke on every cut it makes and unless you have a ventilation system the smoke detector will just be on permanently. In europe there have been notable fires mainly caused by 3d printers failing, as i have one of each i was looking at it mainly for my 3d printer than my laser as i never leave that alone as the engraving is quick. But to develop a system for both i felt would be a good idea, the fact it could save your equipment and your house can only be a good thing. Most people dont even have smoke detectors in their properties where i live, in Spain yet in the UK they are a mandatory requirement for new houses and are connected into the electricity network so they all will trigger in the event of a fire, sadly here we do not have these rules. I rent a small apartment out here for tourists whichI have put a fire blanket, extinguisher, detectors and safety EXIT lights in it and is listed on airbnb and recently this year they even sent me a free combined carbon monoxide and smoke detector for it which was a brilliant marketing and safety idea. We can never assume a fire will not happen especially with 3d printers. That was my area of thinking but i thought it would be useful if i could have a system that could also protect my laser as well as my printer thats all, i am looking at two devices to save, one that you always stay with the other you do not. You only have to read the posts on here in the camera category and on the facebook page to see how many people leave their laser unattended and want the camera to run many more metres so it can come into the house from the garage where they have their laser installed so clearly a lot of people do leave their lasers unattended.

(BrutalVisualStudio) #13

It is my opinion that these kind of machines need to be monitored all the time that they are working.

A spike in the Powerline can pass the psu and let the motion control go wild. About 10 years ago i had this happening … I was burning wood on a 100w co2 leetro based machine and the motion just stopped with the laser on at full power. If I wasn’t there… yeah… a fire would happen.

To make things stranger… I had a online ups with a tension stabilizer before that one… and yet the spike went through (the ups kept record of the surge)

If you want to work with these machines… monitoring is one of the prices to pay…

Anyway… this is just my two cents on subject… :slight_smile:

(Allen Massey) #14

I have one of these over my Laser, one over the CNC and one in the basement utility space. I know it will not save the laser if a fire starts in it, but it might save the house. My laser is in the basement.

At 3 for $35 it seems like a reasonable extra safety measure. Of course the best thing is to never leave the laser alone while it is running.

(Willy Ivy) #15

3 years ago I cut an acrylic job over a plywood nail bed and babysat it for 45 minutes. The following night I did the 2nd half of the job. With so many other things to do and the wife loading up the car for a trip the following morning, I left the laser to go help her. I have a laser/storage room behind my house in a 40x40 shop. I was only gone for about 10 minutes, probably more if the truth be known, I returned to a horrific surprise when I opened the door to my laser room in the shop. All I could see was black smoke and flames. The fire was so intense and so much smoke that I could not get to the fire extinguisher beside the laser. I grabbed another one from the shop, caught a deep breath, went inside and put it out. I had a 6 bulb florescent light fixture on the ceiling above the laser. The bulbs were all popped, melted, the wires to the fixture were hanging down toward the laser with the insulation burned off of them, the plastic 6" vent hose that ran up the wall behind the laser was gone (burnt up), the plexiglass window in the laser was gone, the ceiling and everything in the 12x25 room was covered in black soot. My guess, 2 more minutes I would have lost everything in my shop by the time the fire department would have arrived. Three weeks of clean up, lots of $$ and another laser, I was up and going again. I was lucky.