General Questions

Laser Classification

What does Laser Classification mean?

Lasers that are manufactured and sold in the United States and many parts of Europe are classified as a function of their output power. In the United States, laser classifications are defined and managed by the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). Lasers are classified on the basis of Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) and this criteria and others are used to define the specific categories for each laser. A low laser classification means that the power exiting the laser is low and relatively safe to use. For example, laser pointers and small laser devices may be classified as Class I, II, or IIIa while large cutting lasers are typically classified as Class IV and up.

What is a Class 1 or I Laser?

Class 1 lasers have a low output power and are not recognized to be hazardous. Typical examples include laser pointers and small laser pens.

What is a Class 2 or II Laser?

Class 2 lasers have a visible wavelength and optical power of less than 1 milliwatt. These lasers are only considered hazardous when staring directly into the laser beam for longer than ¼ of a second. Examples include measuring products, laser pointers, structured light guides, Pinpoint Laser transmitters, etc.

What is a Class 3A or IIIa Laser?

Class IIIa lasers are similar to Class 2 Lasers and can produce up to 5 milliwatts of output power for unaided viewing and in larger diameter beams. Examples include measuring products, light guides, structured laser light systems and Pinpoint Laser transmitters.

What is a Class 3B or IIIb Laser?

These lasers produce higher powers and are hazardous for direct eye exposure and may be a skin hazard for lasers at the highest power end of this category. Examples include lasers used for treating materials, surgical devices and related instruments.

What is a Class 4 or IV Laser?

A Class 4 laser is hazardous for direct eye or skin exposure and may also be hazardous by laser reflections from diffuse surfaces and a fire hazard. Typical examples include laser cutting systems, laser engraving products, etc.

Laser Definitions

What is a Laser?

“Laser” is actually an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. A laser generates energy in the form of light which is in or close to the optical portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The laser energy is amplified to extremely high intensity by an atomic process called stimulated emission. The color of the laser is defined by the laser wavelength.

What is Laser Wavelength?

Laser light and energy can be thought of as a continuous series of waves that define the laser output. The distance between these waves, crest to crest, is referred to as the laser’s wavelength and is typically measured in nanometers (nm). A nanometer is 1 billionth of a meter (0.000000001 meter) or 0.00000004 inch. Lasers with a wavelength of 400 to 700 nm produce energy or light in the visible spectrum, which we can see. Lasers with shorter wavelengths in the 100 to 400 nm range are called Ultraviolet (UV) and those with longer wavelengths in the range of 700 nm to 1mm are in the Infared (IR) spectrum.

What is a Laser Diode?

A laser diode, also known as a semiconductor laser, is a light-emitting diode that uses stimulated emission to form a coherent light output. Typically, laser diodes are small, compact electronic devices that can be placed into housings and have a small window on the end where the laser light is emitted. The light exits the diode in many directions and a lens or collimating system is then used to form a collimated beam of laser light.

What is a Gas Laser?

Gas lasers typically rely on a pair of mirrors placed into a gas atmosphere and the laser energy is formed by an external optical source or an electric arc. The increasing laser energy, caused by stimulated emission, is reflected between the pair of opposing mirrors and eventually passes through one of the mirrors as a collimated beam of laser energy. Gas lasers are typically defined by the gas or gasses used in the laser cavity, for example; Argon, Helium-Neon, etc.

Laser Pricing

How much do Visual Alignment Lasers cost?

Pinpoint offers a comprehensive line of precision visual alignment lasers and attachments for a price of about $2,500. Laser Microgage systems start at a price of about $8,000 and a complete kit with all the components for a wide variety of factory alignment projects is priced in the neighborhood of $12K to $20K. We encourage you to contact Pinpoint to see which system is right for you.

How much can I save by using a Laser System?

A lot. Many Pinpoint customers report significant savings of several tens of thousands of dollars or more on a monthly basis. The Laser Microgage lets you check your manufacturing equipment for errors and optimal performance and also provides feedback if you are re-aligning your equipment. Using a Laser Microgage means that you can diagnose alignment problems quickly and eliminates the delays and costs of waiting for an outside alignment team to show up. Contact Pinpoint for examples in your industry.

Laser Safety

Is the Laser Microgage safe?

The Laser Microgage puts out a visible red beam much like a laser pointer. The laser is a Class II or Class IIIa device that produces an output power is close to 1 Milliwatt (mW). You do not need to wear any special glasses or protection to use the Laser Microgage, although we always recommend that customers avoid staring directly into the beam.

Laser System Training

Does Pinpoint provide on-site training and customer classes?

Yes. We will gladly visit your facility and run training classes if you feel that they are necessary. Pinpoint products are versatile and very easy to use and many of our customers teach themselves how to use these products.

What if I have a question about using the Laser Microgage?

Our engineering and support team is on call to answer your questions. We provide conference calls and technical support, free of charge. Our engineering support team also conducts on-line video conferencing through Webex and Go-To-Meetings if you have a questions or applications that you would like to discuss with us.


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