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Accurate, inexpensive testing of handheld lasers for safe use and operation



Marla L. Dowell, Joshua A. Hadler


An accurate, inexpensive test bed for measurements of optical power emitted from handheld lasers is described. Our test bed consists of a thermopile detector, bandpass optical filters, an adjustable iris, and self-centering holders for mounting of the handheld lasers. This test bed serves as a quick and inexpensive method for evaluating the compliance of a laser pointer's power output with the upper power limits imposed by the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. Measurements on a random sample of 23 Class 3R laser pointers yielded a compliance rate of only 26%. A discussion of potential laser pointer hazards is included.
Measurement Science & Technology


laser metrology, laser pointers, laser safety


Dowell, M. and Hadler, J. (2013), Accurate, inexpensive testing of handheld lasers for safe use and operation, Measurement Science & Technology, [online],, (Accessed May 23, 2024)


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Created March 6, 2013, Updated October 12, 2021