How unsafe is acrylic smell when lasercutting?

The smell is incredible…I am putting in for the portable filter option that glowforge is announced. I am behind a closed door across 2 rooms and I smell acrylic.

I only cut 4 2" squares…and it stinks. Take a look at where I am, circled is my unit. I have my window open with vent outside, not a dryer vent though. But its insane that I can smell it lol.

But is inhaling the smell from here really bad? Or is it more just up close inhaling the smoke etc?


You should not be smelling that much acrylic unless you have a poor ventilation setup. When I cut acrylic the smell rarely gets beyond the room the laser is in. I run a room air filter while I am cutting and about 24 hours afterward to clear the smell. Note that your cut parts will continue to smell for several days after cutting, but if you are smelling it that much you either do not have the exhaust routed correctly or you have a problem with the exhaust fan that is not allowing the exhaust to clear the laser.

are you saying that the opening in the back of the GF is just pointed at an open window? it’s hard to tell from your description or the picture.

the best way to avoid odors is to have an insert in the window with the window closed and a vent hose running from the back of the machine to the opening in the insert. like this:


It also depends on the kind of acrylic you are using. Cast acrylic doesn’t smell great but it won’t knock you down. Extruded acrylic, (particularly some of the colored mirrored acrylics), put me in mind of a rotting corpse, and the stench lingers for a couple of days.

Yes, the little compact filter even works with the corpse kind. I tested it and was amazed. (No smell until you opened the lid, and then just a tiny whiff.)

You still don’t want to be smelling it though while the job is running, so the guys are right, check to make sure that your exhaust vent is sealed up. If you just dangle the hose out of an open window, the smell can blow right back in at you with the breeze.

I agree with the others, if you can smell it while you are laser cutting then you have issues with your exhaust. Others have reported that their supplied vent hoses have had pin holes in them causing issue with smells so they replaced them with better hoses. Also make sure that you are closing off the window opening as @shop has referred to. Also check your vent fan for build up of crud. If the honeycomb protecting the fan and the fan get dirty the efficiency of smoke/smell removal will decrease.
As for the safety of smelling the burning acrylic - I can’t answer that but I’m sure it can’t be too good for you.

@cooperl, please understand that guidelines prohibit us from speaking to safety. Such answers must come from Glowforge directly. But hopefully some of the exhaust discussion here will help you with the smell itself!

Searching the web, I have found conflicting information on the toxicity of fumes from lasered acrylic.

There are references to a report from “Dutch health authorities” saying even routine exposure is fine and, that the smell would drive you out before it was concentrated enough to harm you. e.g.:

Other references say it’s super toxic. e.g.:

Note that “acrylic” may refer to a number of slightly different things, chemically-speaking (typically PMMA or MMA), which may have different toxicity.

In any case, I’d expect you to want a solid venting or filtering solution as others are describing for the smell, if nothing else.

1 Like

it gives me a headache if not properly filtered/vented. that’s enough for me to make sure it’s done right. we had a leak at work in our filter lines and man, that was nasty.


Even with proper filtration, small amounts of smoke and fumes can enter the air around your Glowforge, producing a detectable odor. You may also smell an odor when you open the Glowforge lid, even long after a print is complete. This is not harmful.

However, if you detect a strong, sharp smell that also causes eyes, nose, or throat irritation, or if there is visible smoke escaping while the lid is closed, shut off your Glowforge unit immediately. Smoke and fumes could be entering the room in excessive concentrations.

We’ve created an troubleshooting guide with illustrations. You can see it here:

If you’re still seeing or smelling excessive smoke or fumes when using Proofgrade materials, we’re here for you. Email and send us:

  1. The name of the material you’re using
  2. A description of where the smoke/fumes are coming from: the door, lid, or hose
  3. When you smell the fumes: during the print or after it has completed
  4. Photos of your Glowforge and your exhaust system