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Lasers have been used for a variety of means. People have, and are regularly developing new laser applications with readily available laser technology. Laser beam splitter splits one beam into many beams. Laser beams are either visible or invisible in the infrared region.Click the link below to know how lasers are used,how laser technology is tranforming our lives and businesses along with the details of the different technological aspects that are important to consider when buying a laser machine.

Lasers - What & Why

Laser Alignment
           Read Industrial Laser Articles and See General Laser Photographs.

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Focal Length

How to choose the right focal length lens for your application

Cutting Applications

The first consideration to take into account when choosing a lens focal length for cutting applications (apart from some specialized cases to be covered at the end of this section) is the depth of focus required to cut the material.

The two factors that must be considered to determine this requirement are the thickness of the material to be cut and the "worst case" vertical positional tolerances that will occur during the cutting process (the distance between the lens and material).

What is the depth of focus? The laser beam enters the lens and converges to a focus, after which it diverges. Optimal cutting occurs at the focused point. The "depth of focus" serves as a guide to the user as to how far from the point of focus there is still likely to be sufficient power density (laser power ÷ encompassed area) to make a cut.

There are several definitions of depth of focus. For instance, one definition allows for a 50% drop in power density, yet another allows a 25% drop from the maximum value. The true value varies from material to material, depending on its melting threshold.

In summary, the focal length of the lens used in a cutting application must provide a depth of focus based on the material thickness, plus any vertical height variations that may result during the cutting process through positioning or height fluctuations in the material itself.

The second consideration when choosing a lens for laser cutting applies to the cutting of thin material, where the total depth of focus requirement is less than 0.04". Because the depth of focus requirement is very small, the temptation is to select a very short focal length lens. Here, an optical rule comes into play: if the focal length ÷ beam diameter at the lens is less than 5, the focus will become seriously distorted and processing speed will drop. This effect is called "spherical aberration" which applies to plano-convex lens and meniscus lenses to a lesser extent.



What Does SAFETY Mean to You!

The ramifications of the Class 1 or Class 4 rating are important to you both economically and in regards to liability.

Like any other piece of cutting equipment, a laser system can be a major safety hazard if the proper safety measures are not engineered into its design from the beginning. The focused laser beam produces enough heat to vaporize some metals. If you have a laser system or planning to purchase a new laser system in the future then it is important to know that a class 4 laser system is classified as Hazardous and has a myriad of regulations controlling it. Our Class 1 Roll Feed Laser (RFL) is classified as Non-Hazardous and virtually has no regulations applied to its use.

The federal government established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to set and enforce safety regulations in the workplace. They in turn established a classification system for the laser under the Federal Laser Product Performance Standard, 21CFR, Part 1040 (FDA/CDRH).

Laser systems are classified according to potential hazard. The basis of the hazard classification scheme is the ability of the laser beam or reflected beam to cause damage to your eyes or skin during the lasers operation. The classifications range from Class 1 (the least hazardous) to Class 4 (the most hazardous). A Class 4 system has the most stringent safety regulations applied to its operation, compared to a Class 1 system (our RFL), which has the least.

Our patented,state of the art,Roll Feed Laser has been developed keeping the end-user in mind. Each RFL system is engineered to meet exact safety standards or it just exceeds the OSHA/CDRH Class 1 Laser system specifications . Your risk of exposure to the laser beam is, under normal day-to-day operating conditions, within the guidelines of OSHA/CDRA for a Class1 system.

Because most of our laser systems are Class 1, they do not have the above controls imposed by OSHA/CDHR. We want your laser operation to be as safe and profitable as possible. When you purchase our Class 1 Laser system, we provide training to you and your staff on how to operate it safely. The following is more detailed breakdown of the above requirements.Please contact OSHA/CDHR if you would like to get more information concerning Class 4 regulations.

Below are some of the minimal restrictions OSHA/CDHR has imposed on the Class 4 laser system:

Safety Control Measures

Class 1

Class 4

Installation of Laser Control Area



Laser Safety Officer



Eye Protection



Safety Training and Education of Operating System



Emission Delay



Written Standard Operating Procedure



Output Emission Limitation



Warning Signs for Laser Area




A laser control area is a room in which only properly trained personnel are allowed during operation. Entryways prevent personnel from entering the laser area without the laser operators consent or knowledge. This can either be done with interlocks linked to the laser's power by following a strict procedure for entering the room. In addition, the controlled area should have a "Panic Button" that allows the user to override the laser system and shut down the laser immediately.

You have to allocate precious production space for a room to house the laser. Depending on the specific situation, this "controlled" area can require a substantial investment to establish and maintain. Either failure to establish or misuse of the laser control area can lead to injury and legal repercussions for the employer.

Note: A temporary control area may be required during maintenance or service procedures that require overriding the safety interlock or accessing a service panel. The temporary control area needs to have the safety features that are in the laser controlled area but does not need to be have the built-in protection features that are required for a Class 4 laser.


There shall be a designated Laser Safety Officer (LSO) as staff ,for any circumstances like operation, maintenance and service of a Class 4 laser system. The LSO is responsible for, but is not limited to:

Hazard evaluation of the laser work areas.

Assuring that the prescribed control measures are in effect.

Approve the laser’s standard operating procedures, alignment procedures and other procedures that may be a part of the requirements for administrative and procedural control measures.

The LSO shall recommend or approve protection equipment, i.e., eyewear, clothing, barriers, screens, etc. as may be required to assure personal safety.

The LSO shall approve laser installation facilities and laser equipment prior to use;

The LSO shall ensure that the safety features of the laser installation facilities and laser equipment are audited periodically to assure proper operation; and,

The LSO shall ensure that adequate safety education and training is provided to all laser area personnel.


All personnel entering in a Class 4 area shall be provided proper laser protective eyewear. 6 Protective eyewear needs to block enough beam to reduce the intensity to below the Maximum Permissible Exposure (see output emission limitation).


Training provides laser users an understanding of the hazards and requirements for a safe environment. The ideal safety education is complete training followed by regular (typically 6 to 12 months) updated training sessions. Training helps reduce careless accidents.

Only qualified and trained employees shall be assigned to install, adjust, and operate laser equipment. Proof of qualification of the laser equipment shall be available and in the possession of the operator at all times.


A laser activation warning light needs to be installed outside all entrances to the laser area. This warning light shall be on when the laser is in use.


After the power to the laser is turned on, there is a delay of 5 seconds before the laser can fire.

The delay is usually provided by the laser manufacturer unless purchasing an OEM version of the equipment.


The standard operating procedures identifies the laser hazards, lists the procedure to minimize the hazards, describes emergency procedures and contains the list of those personnel trained to operate, maintain or service the laser. All employees must know the standard operating procedure.


The Maximum Possible Exposure (MPE) limit is the maximum intensity of light to which personnel can be exposed without harm. The limit for a Class 4 laser is exceeded by all lasers used for cutting and engraving. The MPE applies to both the laser beam and the reflection of the beam, which is important to consider if working with reflective materials such as metals. Exposure can be reduced by enclosing the beam, wearing protective eyewear, and placing viewing ports that absorb the beam.

Class 4 laser control measures are necessary to reduce emission below MPE. For nearly all Class 4 lasers, the MPE will be exceeded without additional safety controls. It is required to apply safety controls to reduce exposure below the MPE limit.


The doors to the laser control area are required to have postings that describe the type, class, and power level for the laser. The postings must meet a specific format in terms of size, color, warning label types and laser specifications.

Below is a listing of federal, state, and voluntary regulations that govern the safety of laser systems.

FEDERAL Regulations:

1. OSHA Occupation Safety and Health Act of 1970, General Duty clause: 5 (a) (1), Public Law 91-596
2. OSHA Standard 1910, General Industry Standard
3. OSHA Standard 1926, Construction Standard.


4. OSHA Technical Manual, OSHA Instruction TED 1.15 Section II; Chapter 6 Laser Hazards.

Office of Science and Technology Assessment

5. Council of Radiation Control Program Directors, "Suggested State Regulations for Lasers"

6. ANSI Z136.1 American National Standard for the Safe Use of Lasers.

7. ANSI B11.21, Machine Tools Using Lasers for Processing Materials
-Safety Requirements for Construction, Care and Use.

8 ISO DIS 11553, Safety of Machinery: Laser Processing Machines—Safety Requirements.

STATE Requirements:

Some states have additional regulations. Regulations are generally concerned with laser registration and licensing of operators and institutions.

Washington Department of Labor and Industry, Regulation: Chapter 296-62-WAC

There are also state regulations for Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Written by Marty Kalberer, Laser Systems Engineer / Laser safety Officer.
Copyright (c) 1997-98, EdgeWISE Tools, Inc., All Rights Reserved


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