Laser safety... Wifey is concerned.... HELP!

So I received the Pro today, did my founders ruler and am beyond excited about this new adventure with the GFP…

Not so excited about my wife being overly concerned about the fact that we have a machine with radiation, airborne sending deathtrap in the house (her words) … she wants it in the garage…or out in the backyard… (over exaggerating)

Does anyone have anything I can show her, tell her… to help ease her mind… and keep this GFP in the office and out of the garage…

Is it safe to keep in the garage, its not heated… I wouldn’t mind it if its not going to mess the GFP up??




My son (13) insisted that the Glowforge be in his bedroom. He’s very serious about the safety protocols, wears safety goggles when we use the Pro slot, and even posted the Class 4 Laser warning sign on his door. It’s vented out a window, and we have plenty of wind so the smells dissipate, so my only concern about it being in his bedroom is that it’s loud while cutting, so my access times are limited by his desire to sleep.

Personally, I’d be fine with it in the garage, though it might get too hot (Florida) for the laser to avoid the Glowforge thinking it’s overheating and shutting down.


The only reason its a class 4 is because of the slot. tape a piece of acrylic over the slot in the front and youll block anything that could be of concern. glass and acrylic are opaque to CO2 lasers. also let her know that metal shields are shipping soon. hell, you can even make some shields for the inside with the GF too. tape over the slot in the meantime.


She’s almost certainly confusing radiation with radioactive. Photon beams ARE radiation, though obviously the machine is not radioactive.


Yah. Set her down with some physics books.

Toxicity will depend on what you Lase of course. If you are doing wood, and properly ventilated, it shouldn’t be any more interesting than lighting a few wooden matches.

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Radiation…yes… not radioactive… my bad

You don’t want the Glowforge to freeze. The laser has cooling fluid that runs through it. Freezing will destroy the tube.

As for the class 4 laser… Do you have a microwave oven in the kitchen? It uses the same kind of “radiation”, i.e. Electromagnetic radiation. Same stuff as radio waves and light.

Many people confuse this with things being radioactive–i.e. ionizing radiation caused from nuclear reactions. The two are nothing alike except for having a common word in their name.

In an email you should have received just after your it’s on its way email, is a Laser Safety training course. Read it. Then go over it with her. It explains under what conditions you can operate it where it is no more dangerous than any other Class 1 laser. Only when using it outside of those limits do you need to take Class 4 precautions, which really amount to wearing the safety glasses and having appropriate signage and such.

But she should also understand that when it’s off, there is nothing being sent out. It’s like a light bulb. Turn it off and it’s dark. Again, nothing like radioactivity.


So long as you follow safety protocols with materials and the slot, it is safer than (or at least no more dangerous than) operating a microwave, blender, stove, toaster, radio, TV, computer, table lamp, standing in the sun for 1 minute, etc.

I sympathize. My husband works in health risk analytics, including air pollutants, so this was our major point of discussion. The conversation very seriously involved garage and back yard talks, without exaggeration. We ruled out garage due to temperature fluctuations and lack of space (and spiders…). We settled on basically make a Little Red Wagon to take it outside for long sessions (SoCal, so that’s pretty doable year-round). We will be making sure it’s well sealed and vented when running inside for shorter runs.

But then, we’re also people that ruled out areas to buy a house based on how far nanoparticulate pollution travels from highways. As two scientists with young kiddos, air quality is a big thing for us and we’re perhaps overdoing it. I’ll mostly be lasing wood/paper things, but even that stuff generates soot and partial combustion products that we’d rather minimize inside the house.

Probably not the response you’re really hoping for, but that’s what we’re hoping will work for us when we finally get the machine.

Good luck!

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The radiation in this case is infrared light. It’s the exact same stuff that makes you feel warm when you go stand out in the sun. Or the heat lamps used to keep food warm. It’s just concentrated into a narrow beam so it can heat things up much, much more (in order to burn all the way through a piece of wood).

You just just need to keep it out of your eyes and you’ll be fine. So wear the goggles if you’re using the passthrough slot.


Lots of good comments. Hard to judge how to proceed without knowing her.

I’d likely start with:

  • Unplugging when not in use (great call @johnse)
  • Passthrough jobs are done with the door closed/locked or garrage with safety goggles
  • A discussion about how effective the exhuast mechanism is and if extra time/precautions are taken (talking particles)
  • A discussion of where the exhaust is pushed to
  • Talking about the materiel you’ll be cutting and what they can offgass

From there maybe you’ll isolate a particular conscern you can address.


Personally consider the GF far less dangerous than a lighted Christmas Tree. But everyone is entitled to their own fears.


You should certainly vent outside - you won’t want smoke and gasses from lasering collecting in your house. Not dangerous, I guess, but certainly stinky. Especially leather and acrylic! Even burning wood generates smoke you’d rather not have in your house if you’re really concerned about air quality. But venting outside won’t bother anyone - I can’t smell anything outside of my vent, and I am cutting acrylic and there’s just a light breeze now.

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I work with gamma and x-ray radiation machines during the day and I can tell you this machine DEFINITELY doesn’t produce any levels to be concerned about.

If you would like, I could try and measure it’s output on my doesmeter, but it will probably be too low to even register.


@chris1 went through a long battle with his venting, but finally got it solved. He was measuring particulate levels. His final result was:

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The standard gas furnace produces lethal carbon monoxide by design, in quantities that in a single heating cycle produce more dangerous combustion by-products than a 40w laser could produce in a year. The furnace operates periodically around the clock in winter and the gasses are safely vented outside.

How could laser manufacturers survive by selling death traps?
From bottom to top, the entire electromagnetic spectrum is nothing but radiation. Radio waves are radiation, microwaves are radiation. Visible light is radiation. Heat is radiation. With understanding fear melts away.


You can tell her that you will keep it at my house, No problem!


Thank you everyone who commented on this so far. Some great feedback, there is a great group of people in this GF community!!

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