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Old 12-07-2011, 09:42 AM #1
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Default Using Laser for Commercial Purposes, Need your Advice

Hello,
I am not really a laser hobbiest, but need some advice about a laser we are going to use for commercial/industrial purposes. So just a brief summary of what I’m talking about, we are going to use a laser to measure straightness of a crane runway beam, basically we shoot the laser parallel to the beam and measure how far the laser is from the beam at certain intervals.
To get a laser dot accuracy required (dot size of about 20mm dia over 200m) we were recommended by the supplier to buy a class 3B laser, 40mW, 635nM green laser. So here are the questions:
1) Is a laser of this class as dangerous as the internet says it is? (Basically is it a “your crazy to even consider using a laser this powerful”, or “it’s safe as long as you wear proper eye gear”
2) How dangerous is the reflective light off the laser? We are going to shoot the laser on glass so there is huge possibility of reflection
3) Will I be able to see the laser beam while wearing the safety glasses?
4) Once I bought the safety eye gear, is there a way to check that it works fine and filters properly
All your opintions/answers would be highly appreciated.


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Old 12-07-2011, 10:39 AM #2
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Default Re: Using Laser for Commercial Purposes, Need your Advice

First of all, 635nm is red, not green. So I'm not sure why they told you that... But green (532nm) is the most visible. Meaning, it'll be the most visible at the least power and is therefore theoretically "safer". So for something like this, you do want to go with green. (532nm.)

1) 3B 40mW is "it's safe as long as you wear proper eye gear". Note that at the far field, a 20mm dot at 200m will be far safer than near field, a 1mm dot at say, 1m. The energy will have spread out, and it'll be less dangerous.

What you want to figure out is the "NOHD" (Nominal Ocular Hazard Distance), essentially the 'safe direct hit distance' for a given power. There used to be a calculator for this on the web (EasyHaz) but it seems to no longer be functional. But, to make a long story short, the NOHD for 50mW of 532 at 1.5mRad of divergence is around 50 meters, so that wouldn't be a bad number to use. Note that this is for a DIRECT hit, not a reflected hit. So, at 200m, you're "probably ok", but wear your goggles anyways during setup of this measurement, and when you know your face will be close to the beam.


2) Depends on the distance. Reflection off of glass can be anywhere from 2-15% depending on the angle. If this is reflected off of glass 200m away, you're way past the NOHD of 50m, and so long as the glass isn't a mirror, your transmissive/reflective losses are going to bring it down to a non-issue anyways. That said, don't have someone standing right next to the glass surface anyhow.

3) No, you won't - at least not very well. But again, reflected light will NOT be an issue at those distances. Wear the glasses during SETUP, and look at what you must once everything is staged. Keep in mind the NOHD distance of 50m for a direct hit. Reflected laser light off of non-specular objects at these distances will not be an issue.

4) With a laser power meter, yes, but instead of going that route it should block most of the visibility of the dot (but not all of it). Again, use the eyewear when aligning and staging, and then after that, when viewing from a distance, you won't have any issue. For this purpose I'd say get OD 1 or so eyewear. OD1 will bring 40mW to 4mW, allowing it to still be visible, but making the possibility of damage from a direct reflection when close by much lesser.

To be completely honest, 40mW of green , so long as you're respectful of it when working close up, will not be an issue at the distances you are talking about. Your concern is good - it gives you a healthy respect for lasers, but it also isn't really a lunatic fringe sort of thing to do. Do not be afraid of the reflections (illuminations) of matte objects at those distances (such as off of the crane beam). The "dot" of the laser will not hurt you at 200m. Just watch for nearby shiny metal surfaces, and be aware when close to the laser. -- which is why you'll want to wear the eyewear during setup, in case a mistake is made and a stray reflection happens.

And of course, make sure anyone down-beam is far enough away; again, illuminated surfaces are not a problem, but a direct hit in someone's eyes from closer than 50 meters could be a problem.
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Last edited by aryntha; 12-07-2011 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 12-07-2011, 03:55 PM #3
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Default Re: Using Laser for Commercial Purposes, Need your Advice

Thanks Aryntha!

Your response was detailed and exactly what we needed to point us in the right direction for our risk assessment.

Im glad I asked here, still waiting on our HSE people to give us an answer... Im more confident now using the laser after speaking with people who actually use lasers!

Much appreciated.
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Old 12-10-2011, 07:20 AM #4
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Default Re: Using Laser for Commercial Purposes, Need your Advice

I'm no engineer but don't cranes have lots of flexibility so they don't snap?
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Old 12-10-2011, 07:23 AM #5
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Default Re: Using Laser for Commercial Purposes, Need your Advice

This is likely to measure straightness before it's flexing, not during.
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808nm:OLIKE 200mW ∙ JETL PLC 600mW(682pk)
780nm:OLIKE 120mW
685nm:18650 47mW
671nm:PGL3M 281mW DPSS ∙ PGL3C 278mW
655nm:LOC 254mW ∙ OLIKE 221mW ∙ Yob 320mW
638nm:Sanyo 40mW ∙ HL63133 200mW ∙ PGL3C 463mWpk ∙ ML520 700mW
633nm:JDS1145 HeNe 28mW ∙ JDS1145 HeNe 26mW
612nm:MG 05LOR151 HeNe 3mW ∙ REO LSTP 3mW
609nm:REO LHOR 1mW
604nm:REO LSTP 2mW
594nm:Rigel 3mW ∙ LG PGL3C 15mWpk ∙ Lasos 7512 3mW ∙ CNI MGL3 58mWpk
589nm:CNI PGL3C 106mW ∙ CNI PGL3C 85mW
561nm:CNI PGL3C 30mW(41pk)
556nm:CNI PGL3C 20mW(22pk)
544nm:JDS1675P HeNe 2mW ∙ REO LHGR 2mW ∙ Lasos 7786 2mW
532nm:PGL3C 150mW(180pk) ∙ PGL3C 578mWpk ∙ PLC 440mWpk
515nm:JDS 221420GL ArI 30mW
510nm:52mW DG#2 ∙ 50mW 26650 DG
488nm:Nlx DPSS 7mW ∙ JDS 2214 ArI 40mW ∙ JDS FCD488 DPSS 25mW
ML:MG 65A106025 ArI ML 115mW
476/480nm:Nichia Diode 28mW
473nm:PGL3A 45mW(80pk) ∙ PGL3C 110mWpk ∙ PGL3C 95mWpk ∙ RPLB-25 60mWpk
465nm:DTR NDB7676 2.03w
458nm:JDS 2214VL ArI 8mW ∙ JDS 2214VL ArI 12mW ∙ RHD Diode 1.7W
452nm:Osram SM 47mW
445nm:Yob 1410mW ∙ Polaris 156mW ∙ PGL3C 1200mW ∙ DTR-EHG 32650 2136mW
405nm:Yob 630mW ∙ Qfox 750mW ∙ JETL PLC 780mW
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Old 12-10-2011, 07:27 AM #6
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Default Re: Using Laser for Commercial Purposes, Need your Advice

21CFR1040.11 (b) Surveying, Leveling, Alignment (SLA) laser systems cannot exceed 5mW

CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21
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Old 12-10-2011, 04:33 PM #7
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Default Re: Using Laser for Commercial Purposes, Need your Advice

Its true cranes are designed to be flexible to accomodate for an acceptable level of runway (rail) misalignment and manufacturing tolerances, but we suspect the rail we are going to measure straightness against was installed beyond the acceptable limit, thats why we need lasers to help us prove our case.
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Old 12-10-2011, 04:36 PM #8
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Default Re: Using Laser for Commercial Purposes, Need your Advice

Ok now I get what your question was magmabeam, we are measuring the straightness of the rail not the crane itself.

Thanks for the link Frothychimp, good to quote.
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Old 12-10-2011, 04:41 PM #9
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Default Re: Using Laser for Commercial Purposes, Need your Advice

1) Class 3b lasers are dangerous and require laser safety eyewear, which defeats the purpose of the higher power, detectors can do with much less anyway. A 5mW 532nm lasers is more than visible enough.
2) Class 3B lasers are dangerous, both direct and their reflections off a glass surface.
3) The beam won't be visible, but that's not possible safely anyway. In daylight you'd need insane power levels for that, at night just dangerous power levels.
4) Buy professional certified laser safety eyewear, that way you can eb sure it works.

You'd need a low divergence laser in order to have a small dot 200m away. A 20mm beam diameter can give ~0.1mrad divergence, that would mean the dot is 20cm big at 200 meters. The easiest way is to get a quality 5mW 532nm green laser module and a beam expander. A good adjustable mount would be needed too and some way of measuring the deviation of the crane beam, like a 4 quadrant position sensitive detector.
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