In the research project 433 ZN / DVS-No. Q6.014 (2012 Aug. 1st – 2014 July 31st) funded by the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations (AiF) the influence of process conditions during the laser processing of plastics will be investigated with respect to the release of solid and gaseous emissions as well as the resulting risk potential.
The growing diversity of plastics (e.g. PA, PMMA or reinforced plastics) and increased application for laser processing in the plastics processing industry, e.g. for cutting or joining, is amplifying the issue in order to fulfill legal requirements for environmental protection (emissions) and occupational health and safety (exposure) by SME. The necessary information about the material behavior regarding the resulting emissions of fumes or gases are not adequately documented yet. Due to random characteristics of the performed investigations, these data are not sufficient for a realistic assessment of the risk potential. However, according to BImSchG (§ 22) the reduction of potentially harmful emissions by the state of the art (“TA-Luft”) is obligatory. Further, the current maximum allowable concentrations from the TRGS 900 have to be met.
The project will deal with selected, industrially relevant plastics, from which the emission of potentially harmful substances is expected during laser processing. These emissions will be systematically investigated and health impacts of the measured emissions will be evaluated. For this assessment, the emissions are summarized into a relevant value that is calculated using the formula of the evaluation index for mixtures of substances (TRGS 402). This approach enables a statement whether the emissions are of toxicological relevance or not and whether preventive measures must be taken to reduce health risks.
The generated data will be statistically analyzed using artificial neural networks. Based on these data, a prevention matrix will be created comprising toxicological assessments of the emissions for selected parameter combinations as well as short procedural guidelines. The aim of this procedure is a reduction of experimental effort and costs in the context of hazard analysis. This matrix will be available online immediately after the end of the project providing an overview which emissions might be expected from the laser processing of plastics.
In summary, the objectives of the project are:
By combining the expertises of German Plastics Center (SKZ) and Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH) which are further supported by a large project steering committee consisting of participants from industry and research institutions in the field of plastics processing and toxicology, these objectives should be achieved successfully.
BImSchG= Federal pollution control act, act on protection against harmful effects of environmental air pollution, noise, vibration and similar incidents
TA-Luft = The technical instructions on air quality (“TA-Luft”) is the "First General Administrative Regulation for the Federal Pollution Control Act"
TRGS = Technical rules for hazardous substances