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Illumination safety: lasers

Most European countries have very strict rules concerning the use of lasers. As lasers are commonly used for test or placement applications in machine vision, it is very important to be aware of the safety standards.

Lasers are classified relevant to their output and the wavelength of the laser beam in a special set-up corresponding to the United States Center for Devices & Radiological Health (CDRH) or the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The new classification standard EN60825-1 was introduced in 2011.

Classification and eye safety

Generally the higher a laser's safety class, the greater the risk of eye injury. As a precaution, it is always advisable to wear laser safety goggles. Even "eye-safe" lasers such as laser pointers should never be intentionally aimed at people. The only exceptions are medical applications where for example, lasers might be used to show a blood clot in the eye and are covered by strict rules.

Classification and fan angle

Laser classification depends on the wavelength and the power output. The class can change if a lens spreads or fans the beam. The fan angle, in degrees, denotes the beam spread. This has the effect of reducing the power that could be intercepted by the eye.

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