Picture of Build a laser cutter fume extractor
I built my first laser cutter in 1996 and learned right away that laser cutters "stink". Well, at least the fumes from cutting smell awful and are quite harmful to breath. After trying several fume extraction options, back in 2002 I found the ElectroCorp RSU filter. It was a bit expensive, I think I paid $1500, but it did a great job extracting even the worst fumes from cutting acrylic. Fast forward to 2013, I called up ElectroCorp to buy replacement filters for my unit and found out that the original company was sold and is now being run by another company. This new company claimed to supply the same replacement filters, but after almost three months of going back and forth with them, it turns out that their filters are no longer the same, cost way more and look to be much less robust. Going through this challenging and frustrating process with them got me thinking. After taking a close look at how my old unit worked, it was pretty clear that I could build a similar unit quite easily that would allow me to use off-the-shelf and readily available parts. I figured I would document the process so other people with laser cutters could try their hand at doing the same. Depending on the supplies you have laying around your workshop, you should be able to build one of these for somewhere between $400 and $450. Here's how...

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elincango6 months ago

thanks. today start construction. good luck for me and amazing work friend Zach

elincango6 months ago


soundgod0610 months ago
With the carbon being the final step, what prevents the fine carbon dust from blowing all over your shop? Also I'm surprised you didn't pirate some parts off your old extractor, namely the blower and speed control.
Zach (author)  soundgod0610 months ago
Ha! I had the same thought, which is why I turned it on the first time outside. I imagined a cloud of black dust, however, there just wasn't much dust at all. However, adding a final layer of filter mesh on the outside to catch any stray dust is probably not a bad idea. The original ElectroCorp had this.
Zach (author)  Zach10 months ago

You're original question about dust got me thinking about it... So, I just updated the instructible and my filter to include the final blue poly filter. Just like the original unit. This should catch any seen or unseen carbon dust.

soundgod06 Zach10 months ago
What about why you chose not to pirate parts off your old unit?
Zach (author)  soundgod0610 months ago
I wanted to see if I could duplicate the performance of the older commercial unit with completely off the shelf items. I also might try my hand at making a custom sized HEPA for the old unit. Then I'll have TWO fully functional and serviceable filter units.
chipkona10 months ago
How long does the carbon last.How do you know when to replace it?
Zach (author)  chipkona10 months ago
I wish I had a better answer, but this is a tough question. In the past, I replaced the carbon when I started to smell the slightest amount of burnt acrylic outside the cutter. However, by the time you smell fumes, it's kind of too late.
ryanstone14310 months ago
Great work, really, but there are so many carbon filtered exhaust kits out there why spend the money or time to build this?
The VenTech IF6CF620 is one (of many) example(s):
(The cost is $134.75 and it moves 440 CFM.)
Zach (author)  ryanstone14310 months ago
I actually looked at that unit, but concluded that there was nowhere near enough filtration with it to remove odors from cutting acrylic.

ryanstone143 Zach10 months ago
I figured you probably had a good reason not to use a off-the-shelf product! (I'll keep a lookout for any HEPA based units you might be interested in.)
Slim4910 months ago
ynze10 months ago
Very useful! Thanks for sharing this.

primosanch10 months ago
This is a brilliant build. Thanks for sharing.
This is an awesome build! If anyone out there doesn't want to go through the trouble of building one, you can check out hydroponics stores; they sell duct fans and carbon filter cylinders for pretty cheap. You can probably find one for cheaper than you could build one, unless you have a lot of the materials already laying around.
Zach (author)  MossdaleMakerspace10 months ago
There are a ton of filtration options out there, but I knew the configuration used by my old ElectroCorp did the job of filtering acrylic fumes. I did a little searching in the hydroponics realm, but didn't find something that would allow me to do the same pre-filter->HEPA->activated carbon with similar surface area. If you know of a source that does, please post a link.
broregret10 months ago
Is the fan on the intake or exhaust side?
Zach (author)  broregret10 months ago
The fan is pulling air from the laser, pushing it through the pre-filter (in the center of the device), then through the HEPA, and finally through the activated carbon.
Mayhem210 months ago
Nice practical sir!
a.steidl10 months ago
Good ible, thanks for sharing.