What You Need to Know About Handheld Laser Welding Safety

Learn the essentials of laser welding safety and implementation, ensuring smooth integration into your weld shop while prioritizing the well-being of your team and workplace.

Article content provided by IPG Photonics.

Fiber laser welding has experienced widespread adoption in recent years across a wide range of applications and industries. Compared to traditional welding techniques, laser welding offers a number of benefits including faster welding speeds and increased weld quality.

Handheld laser welding systems like LightWELD® present welders with an opportunity to expand their skillset and allow shop owners to maximize productivity. However, if you wish to implement handheld laser welding into your shop and take advantage of all its benefits, safety must come first.

Just as with traditional welding methods, welder safety is a top priority. Personal protective equipment (PPE) for handheld laser welding includes helmets designed to withstand direct laser energy, laser-safe eye protection rated for the appropriate wavelength, and heat-resistant clothing. Not all laser PPE is created equal — investing in high-quality equipment is necessary to ensure welders are protected.

Although laser light loses most of its energy once it is reflected by the workpiece precautions must still be taken. Enclosures are necessary to protect bystanders from potential eye damage that can be caused by reflected laser light. To be laser safe, enclosure walls and doors must be made from a material that will contain laser radiation within the area, such as anodized aluminum panels.

Safety interlocks and prominent signage help prevent accidental exposure by automatically shutting off the laser when enclosures are opened and alerting workers to potential risks. The designation of a Laser Safety Officer (LSO) is also highly recommended. The LSO ensures the safe and responsible use of lasers within an organization or facility. The implementation of controls, including training and access restrictions, will also enhance safety within the laser-controlled area.

Mastering laser welding involves not only understanding its technical aspects but also prioritizing safety at every step. By implementing proper safety measures and investing in quality equipment, shops can seamlessly integrate laser welding into their operations while ensuring the well-being of their team.

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IPG Photonics is the inventor and world’s leading producer of high-power fiber lasers, which enable greater precision, higher speed processing, more flexible production methods and enhanced productivity. IPG Photonics offers products ranging from fiber laser sources to turnkey laser processing systems and their products and process technology can be found in numerous applications and industries across the globe, including commercial HVAC and sheet metal fabrication.