Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer - Describing How It Works

Is My Neighbor's Laser a Danger to the Neighborhood?

The Laser is an electric light that shines all its light into a very small spot. Unless your neighbor is deliberately pointing the laser directly at people, animals, or things around the neighborhood, the laser is not a danger to the neighborhood.

Is My Neighbor's Laser a Danger to the Neighborhood?

Greetings Douglas,

Recently, I found out that my neighbor has been creating products that are laser cut and laser etched. I have read about the dangerous emissions given off by laser cutting machines. I am very concerned over my family's safety and really need to know what kind of machine my neighbor is working with in his garage. My research found any laser machine over 120 watts is for industrial use.

Is anything over 120 watts the number that would be considered unsafe in a residential home?

Thank you, A J

The power from a 120-watt laser is exactly the same as the power from a 120-watt incandescent lamp. The lamp gives off most of its power in the form of heat in all directions, and only some of the power in the form of visible light. The 120-watt laser doesn't give off much heat at all, but puts most of that power into one color of light, and it concentrates the power into a very thin directed beam.

Magnifying Glass

In many respects, the 120 watt laser is concentrating that 120 watts into a very small area. Think of a fairly large magnifying glass. The magnifier concentrates the light from the sun into a very small area. That concentrated beam is very dangerous to ants. It is also dangerous to humans when the magnifying glass concentrates the beam on a person's hand. Of course, using the magnifying glass to fucus the light from the sun on a person's eye will permanently blind the person.

The concentrated light from a laser, though, isn't focused; the concentrated light from a laser is the same size no matter how far the light travels from the laser. In other words, the emissions from a laser are a very thin beam of light. The power inside that beam of light, no matter how far it is projected from the laser itself, is 120 watts; anything outside the beam of light from the laser doesn't get any emissions at all from the laser.

As far as danger goes, a 120-watt laser aimed at your hand will give you a very small, but very, very bad burn. Also, look into any laser, of any power, and will blind you.

Industrial Laser

If what your neighbor has in a commercially available laser cutting and etching machine, the laser is designed to only shine its beam of light into the machine. The machine is also designed to safely receive the beam of light. In other words, any commercially bought laser cutting and etching machine is safe.

It also will not be a danger to any neighbor.

Look at the Machine

Talk to your neighbor. See if you can get a tour. Express your concerns to the neighbor. You might be surprised with the results.

Douglas Krantz
Life Safety
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