Darkly Labs Community

Carbon Monoxide Filtering?

Hey guys, a friend of mine just shared this article on Facebook about a couple killed in SF through carbon monoxide poisoning from their laser cutter (http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/01/27/source-carbon-monoxide-poisoning-killed-berkeley-couple/).%C2%A0We). We were warned pretty well in engineering school that lasercutting wood and cardboard releases a fair amount of carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. Glow Forge just shipped a laser cutter with only HEPA and charcoal filters.

Acknowledging the fact that venting the fumes out the window is probably the safest option, it’s not always the most practical option in the winter. How effective is the add-on air filter for the Emblaser 2 going to be? The specs are quite bare, and only mentions HEPA and activated carbon filters. Google has come up with results both saying yay and nay to activated carbon filters filtering out carbon monoxide.

After removing the ). from the link, it opens to say they were killed by fumes from a “3D laser printer” which doesn’t seem like a laser cutter to me. I will, however, allow for the typical inaccuracies of the media and understand how it could have been a laser cutter, but a 3D laser cutter? That’s a tough stretch. Alternatively, a 3D printer using a laser means either a resin type SLA printer or a nylon powder type SLS printer, neither of which emit carbon monoxide, making 3D printing a greater stretch than a laser cutter mis-represented.

I’d like to see the link that shows a fair amount of carbon monoxide is released when cutting wood and cardboard. The amount of material that is vaporized or burned by hobby lasers or even by the larger CO2 lasers is so small that it cannot be measured by a layman. Carbon monoxide generation requires incomplete combustion, as in motor vehicle engines.

I’ve also not found any reference to what materials to be cut by a laser would generate carbon monoxide. There are certainly problems with PVC and any other material which may release chlorine gas when burned. Even those small amounts would be irritating, but not fatal. The small amounts would also degrade components of the laser over a period of repeated use.

I’m going to discount the current state of the “news” as provided by Facebook. It’s incomplete in my opinion and is merely speculative and disruptive to the hobby community.

As an addendum, I would also consider to believe that a project left unattended on the laser bed would have ignited and burned sufficiently to create enough carbon monoxide to be deadly.

Before this thread becomes politicized about “fake news” and the media, the couple was known to my friend who shared the article, and they were known in the maker community out west and in Boston. We’re still waiting on the full police report, but the community does suspect the cause to be from their laser cutter.

While the amount of material cut is small, it is well withing the realm of possibility that if you’re cutting in an enclosed space that isn’t ventilated, and you’re cutting over a long period of time, the amount of carbon monoxide could have built up. You could alternatively also be right, that a project left unattended could have ignited to discharge that amount of carbon monoxide.

Either way, it doesn’t change my original question about the effectiveness of the Emblaser 2’s air filter.

I just wanted to mention, that Glowforge markets thier machine as a “3D laser printer”, so maybe that might be part of the confusion in the article.



I happen to have a CO detector in the same space as my Emblazer.  I will make sure that I always do. (Also a cheap and easy thing to do…)

We will review this article and look further into carbon monoxide emissions from laser cutting. This situation has not been one we have seen before with respect to laser cutting.

The Emblaser 2 Fume Filtration unit consists of a pre-filter (for large particulates), activated carbon filter (for the bulk of the fumes) and a HEPA filter for small particulates.

We recommend that our machines are always used in a well ventilated area, even when using the filtration unit. They should never be left unattended or left to run unsupervised at any time.

Fred Ungewitter

quote: “…they were killed by fumes from a “3D laser printer” which doesn’t seem like a laser cutter to me.”

You realise that the Emblaser 2 is marketed as a “3D laser printer”?

Actually, a “revolutionary 3D laser printer”, right here https://darklylabs.com/emblaser2/

Another example of marketing terminology that contrasts accurate description based on today’s typical use of “3d printer.”


“Real” 3d printers add material, not blast it away with a laser.


I also doubt the deceased were done in by an Emblaser 2.


Additional information that has come to light shows the media has distorted the facts by combining the ownership of a 3D printer with the ownership of a laser cutter to obfuscate any certainty one might have regarding the true reason. Perhaps over time, all this hyperbole will fade away.

I think most of us here know how a 3D printer works, Fred. None of us here are disputing the differences between a 3D printer and a laser cutter either. There’s no need to be demeaning to the rest of us, or to the deceased. I didn’t state that they were killed by an Emblaser 2 either, I’m merely stating that there is a high chance of the cause of death being by carbon monoxide released by laser cutting by an unspecified laser cutter. Also, as an engineer, I fail to understand your obsession with the “distortion of facts by media” when the original question is a technical question with regards to the safety of a product, not a speculative question on what happened elsewhere.

To Domenic and the Darkly team, thanks guys, appreciate you taking it seriously.

There appears to be very little documented about Carbon Monoxide and laser cutting. Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete burning of materials containing carbon. This could include oil, wood, kerosene, propane gas etc. See the link below for some more information:


Although the amount of carbon monoxide produced by laser cutting is very small compared to the use of a fireplace for instance, in the worst case scenario it could still cause problems.

Here is a simple set of recommendations to help prevent harm from carbon monoxide or even other fumes that may affect your respiratory system.

1: Never use a laser cutter in an enclosed space with limited ventilation. There should always be the flow of fresh air to the workspace.

2: At a minimum, vent laser cutting fumes outdoors.

3: Even if you are venting fumes outdoors or using a Fume Filtration System ensure you still have adequate ventilation and fresh air entering your workspace.

4: Never leave a laser cutter running unattended.This includes falling asleep next to a running laser cutter.

5: Consider a Carbon Monoxide monitor near your laser cutter.

6: Make sure you always know what you are cutting and how the material’s chemical composition will react to the laser cutting process.