Laser Information and Safety
Q. What is a laser?
A. The term laser is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. What that means, is that when certain gases such as helium and neon are stimulated by large amounts of electricity, they emit light that radiates through mirrors and lenses that focus and amplify the light into an extremely tight and bright beam.
Q. You say ‘large amounts of electricity.’ How much electricity are we talking here?
A. In the early days of lasers, the systems could use tremendous amounts of electricity. Some of the systems would hook up to 480V 3 phase electrical connectors. These systems also had to use water cooling due to the amount of heat produced. Now, newer, more efficient solid-state diode based lasers use significantly less electricity. A state of the art laser show can be put on using no more energy than a hair dryer.
Q. What was different in the ‘early days’ of lasers?
A. While quite a few of these older, water cooled lasers are in use today and by many professional opinions are still the best lasers, newer laser systems introduced over the last 10-15 years use solid-state diodes to produce the laser beam. These diode lasers are small, lightweight, and efficient. Most of the systems are air cooled and can run off standard 110V and 220V plugs. Therefore spectacular laser shows can take place in locations previously difficult or impossible to operate in.
Q. Are newer diode lasers are more safe than gas based?
A. Diode lasers use less electricity and do not use water, so they are inherently easier to set up and maintain. However, lasers, including diode lasers, can be very powerful and extremely harmful if shown in someone’s eyes. Never point a stationary laser beam of any kind into someone’s eyes. This being said, lasers used as graphics and designs are not as dangerous because the beam is constantly moving, therefore the potential for eye damage is reduced to safe levels. When laser beams are used to shine down into an audience, this is called audience scanning.
Q. Is audience scanning dangerous/illegal in the United States?
A. While it is not illegal in the U.S., audience scanning can be dangerous if performed by someone who is not properly trained to do so. There are many calculations performed for the show and regulations to comply with in the United States which control the occurrence of audience scanning. If done properly, audience scanning is an amazing and completely safe effect. We utilize both automatic electronic safeguards as well as highly trained laser operators to ensure the safety of every audience member.
Q. I saw this amazing effect at this show I was at, can I get the same effect?
A. Most likely. If you can give us a good description of the effect that was performed, we can probably duplicate it for you.
Q. I have a logo that I want to display at a dinner/meeting/event. Is this possible?
A. Absolutely. We can custom make almost any design into a laser image in full color.
Q. I was thinking of a permanent sort of installation. Is this possible?
A. Definitely. We specialize in permanent laser show installations.
Q. I was thinking a whole permanent show with music, lasers, lights, etc.
A. Not a problem. We can supply entire show packages, in which one unit can control everything from lasers, music, intelligent lighting and more. These systems can operate on timer based systems, dusk to dawn switches, constantly on or manually operated with external event cues.
Q. What kind of external event cues can be used?
A. The systems can be controlled externally with MIDI keyboards, SMPTE time code, DMX or networked computers. This can allow someone to operate a pre-programmed and inspected safe permanent laser and light show that would normally not be able to do so.
Q. How are these shows programmed? And once they’re programmed, can I have something changed?
A. Our professional show designers will lay out a complete show based on your requirements. We can custom design any show for any venue. Give us some ideas, and we can run with them. If you want to change a show, just call us. The shows can be changed at any time, but usually will require an on-site visit.
One Time, Short Term and Mobile Shows
Q. I have an event that I want to have lasers at. What can you do?
A. Your imagination is your limit. Indoor, outdoor, we can do it all. We can do simple, single color, single laser shows to full productions involving a dozen lasers and full color. We can provide everything you need for a dazzling laser light show that will wow and awe the audience.
Q. I want to have a laser show for my touring band. What is possible?
A. Your imagination is the limit. With today’s advances with solid-state lasers, highly complex but portable shows are possible. Most shows require nothing more than a laptop to control them.
Service / Warranty
Q. What kind of maintenance is required for permanent systems?
A. Depending on the type and complexity of the laser system, some routine maintenance is required. This maintenance typically involves cleaning and calibrating, usually done on-site.
Q. How often do they need to be checked or serviced?
A. Depending on the use and location, the service schedule varies. Dirty or vibration intense locations may need to be checked and cleaned every couple of months. Relatively clean and stationary environments can be left undisturbed and trouble-free for years.
Q. Who will service my system?
A. We service what we sell. Contact us for your specific installation and service schedule. We will be able to estimate how often the systems will need to be serviced. We have been in business for 30 years and plan on being around for a very long time.
Q. What if it breaks?
A. Like anything, things can and may break. All of our systems come with a warranty. The length of warranty varies depending on equipment. Lengths of warranty for each component will be included in all estimates.
Q. I have an existing laser system and the company who installed / serviced it is no longer in business. Will you service our equipment?
A. Give us a call and there is a good chance we can help you.
Purchasing / Regulations
Q. Can I just order everything from you for a permanent installation and you just ship it to me and I install it myself?
A. Probably not. Most permanent installations will require certification for safety. A certified laserist will have to inspect the system and the show for safety and file paperwork with the proper government agencies once installation is complete. Contact us for your specific installation.
Q. Which government agencies are involved with laser shows?
A. Several different ones. The FDA regulates the lasers themselves. The FAA must be notified for outdoor displays as well as the Department of Defense for some and most municipalities require licenses or variances for both indoor and outdoor displays. For each laser show, there is a significant amount of paperwork. Don’t risk fines or possible jail time. Leave the work to the professionals. All of our systems and shows are fully inspected and compliant with federal regulations.
Contact Us if you have any questions that aren’t answered here.
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