Laser safety goggles (are they needed?)

Hello all,

I have been searching for a while for a pair of safety goggles and if they are needed.
But to be honest I can’t find a definitive answer.
Some say that normal glasses are good enough (hold a paper behind it and it won’t burn) While others claim that one needs a pair of glasses which costs almost 200 euro’s.

What do you use for protection and why or why not?
Can anyone shine a light on this for me? (pun intended)

In theory most glass/acrylic will block errant, reflected IR light from the laser (I’m assuming you are talking about a CO2 laser). But it’s not specifically rated for it. Proper glasses however are (you’ll actually see OD - Optical Density - ratings marked on quality glasses).
Obviously, none of this is going to stand up to a direct hit from the laser beam - though it’d probably give you a little extra time before going blind if you got a direct beam to the face :stuck_out_tongue:
Really what you’re trying to prevent is getting hit with a strong enough reflected burst of light. Even a tiny bit, even through the glass windows on the laser could severely damage your eyes if you took a direct hit.
200 euros seems pretty high to me - I have a couple pairs of these: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IEKYI4C/
Which are definitely not that expensive and I imagine could be found in Europe.
Personally, $60 is more than worth it - unlikely I’ll even need them but it’s nice peace of mind.

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@sensor here is a very informative article you might reference regarding eyewear and laser engravers etc.

Others interested in the topic should read it as well. After all we only have one set of eyes and they are kind of important …(LOL)

https://laserengravingtips.com/laser-engraving-eye-protection-read-this-before-using-the-laser-engraver/

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In my opinion, you don’t need them, unless you operate your machine with the door open.

What you do need is protection against the flash, which will give you ‘welders blindness’ and is tiring on the eyes.

Smoked acrylic safety glasses will be fine. Less than $10 at most.

The focus on these machines is so short and the PiR2 nature of the size of a beam as it diverges from your focal point is that if you are even 20cm away, you are getting a tiny percentage of the IR beam.

I’m 6’ and my workpiece is about 3’ from the floor. a 2.5" lens-focused beam over 3’ away from my eye is not burning anything out.

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Thank you for your replies.
In general I never want to operate the (CO2) laser with an open door. But it does give me more piece of mind if I have some extra glasses on…

@Sasquatch thank you for the link. Very informative!

@adammhaile 60 usd is more in the pricerange I am willing to spend. Problem is that I have to buy 2-3 because when I have visitors over they ALWAYS want to peek through the window for what I am doing.

@Bonjour Do you think that the laser is really that dispersed over the distance of 3’? On the other hand… I have to google and read about accidents that did happen.

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A tiny percentage of 100W is still more than enough to damage your eyes. Also, the drop-off in power over distance of collimated light (what a laser is) is way less than a normal light source. It doesn’t scatter nearly as much even if in reflection form.

With an older laser I had that just used clear acrylic for the windows I once had a roll of thermal labels sitting next to it after I had used them to help align the beam. I was etching some anodized aluminum for an afternoon - the spot where the laser hit was bright enough I threw on sunglasses under my laser safety glasses. I noticed later that the roll of labels had become speckled with little black dots - as far as I can figure it was getting hit with reflections from the aluminum :flushed:

And it takes a decent amount of focused heat to darken those labels. Enough that it would likely damage your eyes if not protected. That’s why the correct glasses are important - they are specifically designed to block the wavelengths from a CO2 laser. But they are your eyes :wink: Personally, I don’t let anyone in my shop without all the proper PPE.

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You convinced me!

Welding flash is dangerous because it’s mostly UV. Burning wood produces barely any UV, if any. CO2 lasers use IR which is at the complete opposite end of the visible spectrum.

Acrylic is an excellent absorber of IR which is why it cuts so well. Even clear acrylic will block a laser beam (until it burns through anyway.)

Keep the lid closed when cutting – which you’ll need to do anyway for proper ventilation – and there’s no need for glasses.

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@Bonjour

Thank you for your insight however I respectfully disagree with your opinion.

I will always bet on insurance. I don’t buy auto insurance because I am a bad driver. I buy insurance because I can not predict what tomorrow is going to bring while I drive my car. …(i.e. other bad drivers, auto defects that cause accidents, bad weather , road debris, pot holes) …you get the idea.
The great thing about driving a vehicle while you have insurance is that if an accident happens depending on what type of coverage you have you can even get a replacement vehicle if you total your car in an accident

Now back to the lasers in our machines… laser refraction and reflections can be caused by many variables.

Here is the major difference in my comparison . … once you lose you eyesight. It gone forever and you can’t replace it.

What type of insurance coverage do you want for your eyes? The cheapest possible or best you can afford?

Since I can’t afford nor can I buy a new set of eyes no matter the amount of money I have I will put my money on scientific data that factually states that eye protection
Is important in all applications you are exposing your eyes to damaging factors . From grinders to lasers eyes must be protected at all times.

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I wish you all continued success in all you do. Many years ago while working in corporate America I attended a safety meeting that changed the way I look at all things safety. The safety officer mentioned a phrase that stuck with ,e for the rest of my life … “ it’s not the fall that will hurt you it’s the sudden stop.”

Cheers

Sasquatch

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