Smoke Extraction Option For Lasers

I’ve been wanting to add a diode laser to my shapeoko for a while but keep getting put off by the safety concerns involved. My shapeoko is in my basement workshop on a table, not in a enclosure so eye safety is something I’m very mindful of. I finally pulled the trigger on a fully enclosed 20w diode desktop style machine and have been really enjoying it so far. Currently have it set up in my garage and venting out the garage door. That’s been fine but the temp is really starting to drop here in Toronto and while i can survive with a small space space heater going, i can’t image it’s great to leave a machine like this in sub zero temps for extended periods of time. It’s got me thinking if there’s any way I can move it indoors. I’ve been looking at fume extractor units and while many seem like they would do an fairly adequate job, the cost of filters for some of these units are very pricey. Is there any way a shop vac can be used as a smoke extractor? I’m guessing not but I thought I might ask what others have done with their lasers. Thanks.

When I was doing welding in an argon filled booth, I had a vent to the outside through a sliding window. Installed a board with a hose to vent it outside. When done I removed the board and locked the window.

Good Luck

I agree that Toronto us quite cold in the winter. Maybe as @Zman suggested you could make a board with a hole in it to keep the cold wind out but still vent to the outside. Depending on your garage door you could maybe get a small cat door and modify it to fit the vent to it. You could disconnect the vent when not using the laser and keep the warm air in and the cold air out.

I live much further south in East Texas and have been using a propane heater to keep my shop bearable in the winter. Plus I put my dog in the shop on cold nights and keep the dog warm with the heater. However Propane has gotten quite expensive and am considering some type of an electric heater mounted from the ceiling. I have 220v in the shop to power the heater. Either way it is expensive but the cost would more hidden in my electric bill over paying to get my propane refilled. I have about 6 20lb bottles and go through 1 bottle per 24 hours of continuous running on really cold days. Generally we usually only get cold snaps for a week or less but where you are it stays cold all winter.

Do you have insulated garage doors?

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That is why I have a wood stove,
plus it eliminates my mistakes

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I’ve been using this heater for my 16 x 40 workshop since 2019. No problems.

Fahrenheat FUH54 240-volt Garage heater

My Laser is on. my SO4Xl in my unheated barn, but I used an old air pump for an inflatable yard toy (think bouncy house - like this VEVOR Air Blower, 950W 1.25HP Inflatable Blower, Portable and Powerful Bounce House Blower, 2200Pa Commercial Air Blower Pump Fan, Used for Inflatable Bouncy Castle and Jump Slides, Yellow | VEVOR US) and connected the input to a Dust Collection Hood (like this Dust Hoods - Lee Valley Tools) and ran the output through a 4 inch dust collection hose to a dryer vent (like this I installed in a board in the window. Works pretty darn well, and I had most of the materials and equipment already on hand. Let me know if you want pictures.

My garage itself isn’t insulated but i did put in a brand new insulated door last year. I’ve just been raising the door enough to fit the exhaust hose under. I was thinking of doing something similar to what Zman was suggesting, putting some scrap wood together with a hole for the exhaust hose and put that under the door when the machine is in use then just remove it when i’m done. With my space heater going, i think the temp would be bearable even when it gets really cold. What I’m more concerned about is since i’m only running the heater when i’m in there, is it safe to leave a machine like this in the cold 24/7. It is a diode so no worry about water freezing or co2 tubes cracking but still, can’t imaging it’s ideal.

Thanks, that sound like a really good set up. The machine I bought has a built in exhaust fan but I was thinking of picking up a small inline fan or something similar to pull the smoke and debris out of the unit a little more efficiently.

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Here’s how I turned a small “Stinger” shop vac into a pretty good smoke extractor:

I have a complete enclosure. Installed a rubber boot high in the rear wall, ran a 4 inch exhaust line (dryer vent hose) through a 4 inch vent fan and removed a basement window, installed a 3/4 inch panel and put in a clothes dryer vent with a screen (to keep the crawly things outside)
so… vented outside.
fwiw, some laser fumes are pretty toxic.
and, eye protection, eye protection, eye protection.
Hook up the safety and hang a Laser in USE sign.

Just use a 4 inch 120vac muffin fan I got one out of some old machine and then something like dryer vent or duct pipe. and then pipe it outside. I only etch though.

Or an inline duct booster fan.

Nice to see all the cold fellow Canadians :slight_smile:

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