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What a cheap laser can do, Beware!

WizardG

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Hi WizardG
I also grew up in the boonies-the Sierra. I was taught respect and gun safety from an early age-never point at any one at any time, keep the safety on-don't shoot at rocks-etc. I was plinking with a single shot 22 at age 11 with 22 shorts. Then it was clean the rifle. I had a hill to shoot into. Many cans and pinecones met their fate!
I treat lasers the same way- although I've yet to zap any pinecones or cans. :)
Laser pointers are not kids toys. Originally, it was 1 mW 650 nm. Relatively lower hazard.

Only more recently have the crappy 532 nm taken off. Elsewhere I describe trying to buy an actual 1mW 532-and getting a way over spec pen-that makes my eyes ache just viewing the dot on a wall-not for presentations!
Solved that need with a 505 nm from Laserlands. Probably less than 5mW. It's a direct diode and the beam spot is larger than the DPSS 532-and of course no splatter of IR either.

From the manufacturer's point of view making a 532 DPSS laser that is reliably at or under 5mW is a pain in the neck requiring a more complex driver with APC feedback. That adds to the cost of manufacture as does the requirement for someone to adjust each pointer to the correct power. And often the darn things just aren't stable at very low power. Much simpler to just stick a generic bonded MCA in front of a 500mW diode and call it good. Nice and bright=positive customer feedback and it's dirt cheap to produce. I've paid less than a dollar a pop for poorly made pointers out of china in batches of 10. Most of them actually lased.
 



Pelagius

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Thanks! I wondered why it was cheaper to make over spec than actual "safer" 532 nm. I've mentioned that I bought from Laserlands for a presentation pointer-opting for a 505 nm-for color-and because it's NOT DPSS. + REP if I can give it.
QUOTE=WizardG;1546246]From the manufacturer's point of view making a 532 DPSS laser that is reliably at or under 5mW is a pain in the neck requiring a more complex driver with APC feedback. That adds to the cost of manufacture as does the requirement for someone to adjust each pointer to the correct power. And often the darn things just aren't stable at very low power. Much simpler to just stick a generic bonded MCA in front of a 500mW diode and call it good. Nice and bright=positive customer feedback and it's dirt cheap to produce. I've paid less than a dollar a pop for poorly made pointers out of china in batches of 10. Most of them actually lased.[/QUOTE]
 

Benm

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Much simpler to just stick a generic bonded MCA in front of a 500mW diode and call it good. Nice and bright=positive customer feedback and it's dirt cheap to produce. I've paid less than a dollar a pop for poorly made pointers out of china in batches of 10. Most of them actually lased.

Yeah, that's the problem. The cheapest way to make them is doing as you describe and then ship out those units that lase at all (if they do quality control at all).

Then again, most customers would probably be disappointed if you actually delivered them a 532 nm laser with a power guaranteed between 0.9 and 1 mW even over a wide temperature range.

Such a product would be superior and more complex to build. But I bet the vast majority of buyers would actually complain about it being far dimmer than something they got off ebay for $0.99 shipped.

It's also customs that creates this problem though: if you want to import something as a 'pointer' it'd probably have to be < 1mW. Manufacturers are happy to supply to print labels that state this, regardless of output power, so their product is legal to import on paper.

I'd personally be alarmed to see a package weighing in at a kilogram and showing an enormously large laser (like a 3D-maglite sized thing) on x-ray inside of it. Then again, even on x-ray it may not look suspect if it's aluminium - given the low atomic weight aluminium just looks like plastic with simple x-ray scanning.
 

Durge

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Gotta say I disagree completely with H20 on the argument of responsibility. This is not the fault of the mother. The article said the laser was sold at a well known toy store. You buy a toy at the store, tell your children not to eat it or stick it in their eyes, and that's the best you can do. I mean, they sell playdoh and elmers glue that are specially formulated so as to not cause harm when children inevitably ingest the stuff, as they are bound to do being young and curious. This issue is the responsibility of the store, not the mother. You said it's so easy for the mother to google the dangers of a laser. Why? Why would I google the dangers of a barbie doll or playdoh? I bought this toy at a reputable toy store with the expectation that said toy is suitable for play. They even make edible blowing bubbles at this point. Kinder eggs were banned in the US because they were considered dangerous. When I buy something from the toy store, I have an expectation within reason that said toy will be safe to give my child, especially if it's a "well known" toy store, such as the one in the article. Packaging usually has warnings and suggested age ranges.

The responsibility undoubtably falls upon the seller of the item in this case. The seller tried to make a profit by selling incorrectly labled Chinese junk, and put potential buyers at risk. That's tantamount to selling faulty batteries on purpose simply to make a profit. The potential harm was magnified by the fact that the laser was being sold at a toy store directed at children. This was a case of seller greed and seller negligence, not a negligent mother that was unfit to have children. The insults directed at whether she was fit to be a mother are unfounded. None of you have enough facts about the situation to make such a negative determination.

Atleast she took her son to the doctor to get the issue checked out. Atleast she alegedly warned her son not to look straight into the beam of the laser. Give the mother some credit for that, I couldn't even afford to go to the doctor the majority of my upbringing. Telling the son not to look into the beam was just common sense, like not looking directly at the sun or standing 2 inches away from a huge tv screen. It doesn't mean being out during the day or watching tv in general is severely dangerous and warrants a google search into the dangers of being within the viscinity of such things; that explaination is absolutely ridiculous! The expectation is that being outside and watching tv are generally harmless activites, like using that mislabled laser bought at the "reputable" childrens toy store.

I hear you guys when you express concerns about how these reckless, negligent, or greedy situations harm our hobby. On the topic of policy and law, it's difficult to make policy that fits every situation. The root of the issue is lack of education on the subject, and certain shady sellers attempting to sell items that are mislabled. There will always be those who are deceptive about the products they sell, their motivation is profit. A commenter before me was correct to say that sensationalizing these issues will only make for tighter law enforcement on the issue, which won't really eliminate the illegal or less-than honest sale of lasers, but make it harder for enthusiasts like ourselves. I would probably argue for better labeling and more clear warnings on products, more accessible education on the subject for the public, and potentially less strict laws. The reason I say less strictness is because the sellers from China know what output power means, and they know what class laser is legal to sell in the states; they probably even know the average output power on most of the devices they sell. The big issue is that they are motivated by the laws and regulations to lie about that number, maybe saving money in not testing each individual product, but mostly to circumvent the regulations alltogether. Lasers, unlike illicit drugs, actually have value and aren't inherently harmful to own. They can be fun, and they add immesurable value to our lives when paired with other technology. These types of considerations would be valuable to those who make the policies. Maybe this is all a bit idealistic of me, but I stand by what I have said.
 
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Marco Polo

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This is a necro-post but just saw this thread and figured would be worth it to remind everyone that most standard safety glasses won't protect against injury from most of these DPSS greens due to passing the IR beam that is superimposed on the green beam. Only exceptions are if the laser includes an IR filter or the glasses are specifically rated for IR. Otherwise the full IR beam will pass (and do full damage) unimpeded. Be careful!
 

loreadarkshade

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This is so very sad....
I've done some stupid things in my life too, and thank god the repercussions were not so bad. (firecrackers giving me tinnitus)
Imagine a stupid 2 second moment of curiosity ruining, changing your life forever. wow...

I don't blame the mother, how could we? Had she had known, I know in my heart she would have never let her child play with this.
We know the dangers of lasers, but she had no idea what lasers are capable of.
We see high powered lasers burn things, we use goggles every time we use our lasers, its second nature to us. We take this for granted.
Of course she thought it was safe, it was sold publicly in a children's toy store..

I blame chinese manufacturers and retailers who lie about their laser's power and sell overpowered products because they sell better...
 

CurtisOliver

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The manufacturer takes partial blame for this if the laser was overpowered and deemed unsafe. However so does the parent. Misuse comes under the parent’s responsibility. There are plenty of products out there for children that are safe for them to play with under proper and supervised usage. Play sand for example is deemed safe for them to use but if the parents allow them to eat it, then it’s not the manufacturers fault. Colouring pencils are safe, unless a child decides to poke one in their siblings ear. Who takes responsibility for that. The parent or the manufacturer that sold a long pointy object?
Even if the laser sold was legitimately Class 2, you still are not meant to stare into the laser emission anyway so it is deemed misuse of the product. The parent should be aware of what they are giving their children. And common sense should tell a parent that bright lights hurt eyes.

Manufacturers get out of legal trouble when they put safety information on their products. In this case the label on the laser would of stated ‘Do not stare into the beam’. Even if the class rating was wrong that key statement may be enough to get them off the hook. They may still face legal troubles separate to the case for selling lasers exceeding their safety class. But the case alone would end up being the mostly the parents liability.
 
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loreadarkshade

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Totally agree!
A little common sense goes a long way. The kid was stupid for doing it and not listening to his mother.
Just a shame all around...

In the article, it said she had warned him not to shine it in his eyes, and he did so anyways while she wasn't looking.
It only took seconds to burn his retina, and of course he felt no pain while being blinded, and tried it in both eyes.
You know kids, you tell them not to do something and they do it...

I think it's easy to blame someone when our hobbies / something we love is threatened or shown as bad / negative.

I think the mother will blame herself for the rest of her life, and so will the kid, but why sell this crap in a toy store?!
 

Unown (WILD)

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Lack of education is a major issue. A child's brain is not fully developed enough to protect themselves from potential situations. It's up to the parents to watch out for them. The mother knew enough to tell him not to look directly into it. She is largely at fault. The rest of the blame goes to the shop selling it as a toy.
She wants to ban the lasers but that isn't the solution. Education is. It should be treated as a gun and sold accordingly.
 

Ears and Eggs

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There's mistakes on both the parent and the store here. Sadly the kid paid the price. As others have said, kids could choke on Lego, break bones on a scooter, etc. No toy is 100% safe and it's the parents responsibility to monitor the kids behavior and stop overly risky behavior. Parents should also not be buying anything for their kids if they don't have a sound understanding of the risks and safety precautions themselves.

On the other hand the toy store is negligent for selling something that dangerous. No toy store would sell a Desert Eagle or a case of dynamite. Even though under some circumstances, under very strict parental supervision, a kid could use those.
 
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