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Emissions under control: comprehensive exhaust air analysis during laser processing of plastics


In order to provide optimal protection for machine operators and the environment, it is utterly necessary to know exactly which emissions are being released during laser processing of plastics. Scientists at the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and at the Kunststoff Zentrum SKZ in Würzburg have compiled a comprehensive analysis of the main emissions released during laser processing of plastics. This information is now available in the form of emission data sheets.

What is the influence of the laser output or process speed on the hazardous materials released? How are the materials, process conditions and emissions related?

Mobile pump case for guideline-conform sampling in the exhaust air, respectively workplace ambient air on site.

Photo: LZH

Measurement cell for guideline-conform sampling directly in the exhaust air.

Photo: LZH

Based on these and similar questions, equipment for material removal, cutting and welding of plastics was investigated at the place of use, using a mobile measurement unit developed by the LZH.

It can be integrated in any exhaust system, and makes direct and guideline-conform measurement of the exhaust possible, with subsequent evaluation according to the Technical Instructions on Air Quality Control (TA Luft).

Parallel to this, measurements of the workplace ambient air were taken, and the hazardous material concentrations were compared to the workplace threshold levels (AGW) according to the Technical Guidelines for the Handling of Hazardous Substances (TRGS) 900/910

Investigation of plastics relevant for applications

The main emphasis of the investigations is on application relevant plastics, such as PE, PP, PA6, PC/ABS and carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). The research institutes LZH and SKZ examined the released particles and gasses for more than 100 chemical compounds.

Based on the information gathered, the dominant influencing variables for the individual processes were determined, and thus a basis for emission-reduced processing was created.

The results of the investigations are now available as emission data sheets, and they can be ordered from the Safety Technology Group at the LZH. Furthermore, a prevention matrix with suggestions for process and material specific prevention measures was made.

The results of the investigations will also become a part of the laser safety database, which can be viewed on the LZH website (

The research project was supported through the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations "Otto von Guericke" e.V. (AiF) within the framework of the Program on Supporting Industrial Collective Research (IGF) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), based on a decision of the German Parliament.

Lena Bennefeld | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

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