Laser cutting & engraving uses burning to cut into material, and where there is smoke, there is fire.
It's true. A laser uses a very hot beam of light to cut materials--whether that cutting results in engraving or actual slicing through the material. The result is that laser cutters will generate fumes, vapors, particulates, and/or metal fumes depending on what materials are being cut or engraved. These fumes can range in terms of their danger from smelling bad to being highly toxic.
Thus, there is a need to filter or redirect the exhaust from the cutting or engraving. There are two common approaches to this.
Much like your dryer’s exhaust, lasers are often vented using a standard four inch exhaust vent, much like that used with a clothes dryer. This vent is connected to an window opening or a vent cut through the wall to send the fumes and vapors outside. You need to have a window or 4” dryer connection within the reach of the exhaust ducting—often about 8 feet.
An air filter lets you use your laser machine anywhere in the home, school, or office. Often the size of a recycle bin, it cleans the air coming out of your laser machine. It often sits on the ground near your laser cutter, connected by a hose. It cleans the air from the laser and returns the filtered air to the room. That means it’s safe to operate your laser cutter anywhere in your home, school, or office when the instructions are followed. In fact, the filtered air has significantly fewer particles than typical indoor air. Laser owners have noticed that while the air is safe to breathe, the filter often does not remove the smell that, depending on the material being cut or engraved, can range from a slight burning smell to a quite nasty burnt plastic smell.