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Laser FAQ's
Why are FDA and TÜV regulation compliance and laser product labeling necessary?
Are laser products dangerous?
What are laser diodes?
What is wavelength and how does it effect laser visibility?
What is output power and how does it effect laser visibility?
What are laser modules?
Are there any differences among laser products with the same advertised wavelength and output power?
Why is there a difference in battery life among laser products using the same quantity and type of batteries?
Why do laser products require different types of batteries?
Why doesn't my laser product project a beam as far as stated in the specifications?
Why does the laser dot have an oval shape and a halo?
Why is the laser dot size sometimes larger over distances?
Why are FDA and TÜV laser regulation compliance and product labeling required?
In the interest of public safety, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and TÜV are dedicated to defining safety standards, test parameters and compliance requirements for many different products, including laser and other opto-electronic devices. Although you frequently see the term "FDA and/or TÜV Approved" in laser product advertisements, neither organization actually approves laser products and these terms are not permitted.

Many nations require that laser products advertised or introduced into commerce include a product label and/or package markings with specific information, such as safety warnings, type of product, etc. See the labels. It should be noted that both the FDA and TÜV have reported an increase in the number of laser products sold that were never submitted to ensure their compliance, even though they include safety labels.

All Aegis laser products include relevant safety labels and are fully compliant with FDA and TUV regulations.

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Are laser products dangerous?
They can be when not used properly. Laser products are not toys, they should not be used by children, and they should never be pointed at people or animals. They should not be pointed at reflective surfaces because a reflected beam acts like a direct beam. You should never look directly into the aperture of any laser product while the laser is in operation. Laser radiation will harm the eyes if you look directly at the laser beam for extended periods.

Looking directly at a laser beam is difficult to do, since the normal reaction to a bright light is to blink and turn away. Nonetheless, there have been increases in the number of eye injuries and temporary vision problems reported to government agencies worldwide resulting from the misuse of laser products, particularly laser pointers. These increases can also be attributed to the introduction of inexpensive  off-specification laser products that are not compliant with established safety standards and have illegitimate safety labels.

As indicated in Aegis specifications, most laser products are manufactured with different output powers for the same wavelength. This is because certain countries, including many in western Europe, require that laser products have a lower output power than what is permissible in other nations, such as the United States. Some countries have produced television commercials that inform consumers about the risks associated with using laser products and in November, 1997, the United Kingdom banned class 3a laser pointers (above 1mW) from commercial sale.

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What are laser diodes?
Every Aegis laser product begins with a visible semiconductor laser diode which is rated according to its wavelength and output power. Laser diodes require additional components and a collimated lens to produce a visible dot.

The technical definition of collimation is the process and devices required to produce a beam of light particle in which the paths of all the particles are parallel. In non-technical terms, collimation is necessary because light is emitted from the laser diode in a square plane and a configuration without direction (scattered). A precise, collimated lens is installed in the front of the laser diode and part of the circuitry is designed to provide proper collimation.

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What is wavelength and how does it effect laser visibility?
The technical definition of wavelength is the distance measured in the direction of propagation of a light wave between two (2) successive points in the wave that are characterized by the same phase of oscillation. This is expressed as nanometer (nM), where one (1) nM is the equivalent of one (1) one-millionth of a millimeter between the two (2) successive points.

In non-technical terms, lower wavelength values have a longer range, are brighter, and generally have a larger spot size than a higher wavelength value. For example, a 635nM laser product is brighter with greater range than a 650nM laser product when both have the same the output power (as defined below). Combined with the appropriate output power, wavelength is an important consideration when using a laser product outdoors or in brightly lit interior environments.

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What is output power and how does it effect laser visibility?
The technical definition of output power as it relates to laser products is the power level of the laser beam. This is expressed in 'less than milliwatts (<mW)'; a unit of power equal to one (1) one-thousandth of a watt. A higher output power is brighter than a lower output power. For example, a 650nM @ <5mW laser product is brighter than a 650nM @ <1mW laser product.

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What are laser modules?
Laser modules are electronic component assemblies that produce a laser beam when power is applies.

All Aegis laser products include surface mount components which are installed on printed circuit boards and inserted into a brass or bronze tube behind a collimated lens. The tube, also referred to as a can, is filled with a proprietary, thermally conductive epoxy to provide adequate heat dissipation and superior protection when the finished product is dropped.

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Are there any differences between laser products with the same advertised wavelength and output power?
There are numerous differences in the wavelength and output power of advertised laser products, almost all of which are reflected in selling prices.

Other than the overall quality philosophy of a company manufacturing laser products, many of the differences can be attributed to ambiguous laser product labeling conventions, where the wavelength and output power are expressed as xnM (nanometer) @ <ymW (less than y milliwatts). Most advertisements include FDA and/or TÜV labels, but do not specify the actual wavelength or output power. It is impossible for a consumer to determine what the wavelength and output power are without proper test equipment.

This should be one of the most important considerations when purchasing a laser product, since there are varying degrees of quality for all products and components. Some manufacturers discount laser diodes not meeting their published specifications by as much as 98%, and it is common for the tolerances to exceed +10%. Since they represent a large part of the cost to produce a laser product, this significantly affects the selling price, life expectancy, visibility, battery consumption and range. These laser diodes are the primary reason why some laser pointers can be purchased for less than the cost of the batteries they require, and why there has been an increase in reported laser-related injuries. In this case, you get what you pay for.

For example, an Aegis laser product rated at 650nM @ <5mW begins with a 650nM @ 5mW laser diode that has a tolerance of + 0nM and +0mW. The finished product wavelength remains unchanged, but there is some output power loss resulting from the components installed between the power source and laser diode. Design expertise and component quality yield an output power between 4.2mW and 4.4mW, as well as consistent life expectancy, visibility, battery consumption, range and product durability.

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Why is there a difference in battery life among laser products using the same quantity and type of batteries?
Battery life specifications for all laser products are typically presented as "Up To" or "Maximum" by most manufacturers. They, and ourselves, monitor the number of hours of battery life with continuous use and state the best test results. In reality, battery life varies greatly and depends upon the type of batteries used, duration of usage, battery freshness and, of course, the current drain of the product. Every Aegis laser product is designed to derive maximum battery life.

Since battery life is a significant part of the ownership cost, this specification should be considered when purchasing a laser product.

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Why do laser products require different types of batteries?
Most laser products sold to consumers require a power source of 3 or 4.5 VDC. The battery type for each product is defined during the design phase using available space and battery life as the criteria. 

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Why doesn't my laser product project a beam as far as stated in the specifications?
Laser beam range tests are conducted by most laser product manufacturers under controlled conditions, and the best results are included in their specifications. For example, indoor range tests are typically conducted in a completely darkened area.

Aegis indoor range tests are performed in a dark air conditioned facility that is 3,610 feet (1,100 meters) long. In this environment, the average laser beam ranges for 650nM and 635nM standard Models are 1486 feet (453 meters) and 2822 feet (860 meters), respectively. Outdoor tests are performed in direct sunlight, with average laser beam ranges for 650nM and 635nM standard Models of 144 feet (44 meters) and 217 feet (66 meters), respectively. The laser beam ranges presented throughout this web site and in all Aegis promotional materials are understated.. 

When one laser product has a greater range than another, the beam projected by the first product is obviously brighter and more powerful. Since a laser dot cannot be normally be seen at distances over 1,000 feet (305 meters), most people do not appreciate the significance of range as it relates to their application. For example, the dot produced by most 670nM and 660nM laser products are not visible in brightly lit environments, under halogen lighting, direct sunlight, or on front or rear panel projection screens. This is an important specification to review before purchasing a laser product, and why all Aegis Laser products are either 650nM or 635nM.

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Why does the laser dot have an oval shape and a halo?
These conditions occur when a high power laser diode light is converted to a narrow dot size through the lens, and becomes more apparent on reflective surfaces. This typically does not occur with low power laser diodes.

When using Aegis LExtender® Laser Layout Tools, the brightest location in the dot is the alignment point.

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Why is the laser dot size sometimes larger over distances?
All Aegis laser products include a long range focus lens designed to provide maximum range and visibility. The advantages in using this more expensive lens are clear, however the dot size will increase slightly over distances. Other conditions that affect the dot size of products with long or short range focus lenses are ambient light, dust, humidity, and the surface the laser is projected onto. The dot will normally be smaller and rounder on a smooth non-reflective surface than a rough or reflective wall surface.

When using Aegis LExtender® Laser Layout Tools, the brightest location in the dot is the alignment point.

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 Specifications subject to change without notice.

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