Laser Safety Windows Buyer's Guide

Laser Safety Windows for Manufacturing

To determine which laser safety window to buy, refer to the following criteria:

1) Wavelength of the laser:

2) Level of protection: what protection level is needed is premised on the laser's output. by looking for the recommended Optical Density (OD), asking your Laser Safety Officer, or feel free to give us a call at 1-866-650-6926 and we can assist. The needed OD is ultimately a function of both the laser being used, and what the laser needs to be reduced to. This is known as the Maximum Permissible Exposure ("MPE") based on several parameters mentioned here.

Below we've illustrated what the laser safety lens fundamentally needs to accomplish for proper laser safety:

Maximum Permissible Exposure ("MPE") Laser Safety

Optical Density: This refers to the amount of light attenuated[i] by a lens and ultimately let through to hit the eye. Different lasers (and corresponding wavelengths) have different impact on the human eye (the ANSI has created standards and published them based on research). If there is any difficulty in knowing the appropriate optical density needed for your glasses or laser safety protection, give us all call at 1-866-650-6926 or 952-405-6947. We have included a diagram to aid you in common industry notation. Kindly note that some assumptions have been made for diagrammatic purpose (the photons depicted are not drawn to scale). Finally, be sure to reach out to us if there is any uncertainty.

Optical Density Explained

Visibility Light Transmission (VLT) – Color and visibility of specific color ranges often are significantly affected by laser glasses and goggles. Think about sunglasses - when wearing sunglasses to block the sun, (often less expensive) sunglasses do an effective job of blocking the sun. However, everything is much more difficult to see because not a lot of light generally is coming through. Other times with (typically more expensive) sunglasses, the sun is blocked and everything else looks very similar to how it would without the glasses. The image below is a relative comparison of visual light transmission.


Below is a table to display generalized trade-offs of different laser safety windows:

Class 4 Lasers Yes Yes No
Typical Classification of Laser Ultra-Violet, Visible Light, Near and Far Infrared (IR) Infrared Low-level Ultra-Violet, Low-Level Visible Light
Custom Sizing Yes Yes Yes
Price Higher Higher Lower
Optical Density[ii] Higher Higher Lower

[i] Outside of the context of laser safety, optical density more commonly refers to the refractive index, and the term ‘absorbance’ is used in lieu of what is referred to as ‘optical density’.

[ii] Optical Density refers to a general trend should look at the specifications of the eyewear before purchase.

Common Questions:

Question: If I have a window, why do I need laser safety glasses?

Answer: We get asked if the laser is full enclosed is it fine to only have a window; laser safety standards still say no. According to laser safety standards and best practices, when working with a class 3B or class 4 laser, one should always wear appropriate laser safety eye protection. If you have questions about your particular system, please give us a call.

Question: Is twice the thickness twice the protection?

Answer: No, for most windows (and assume all of them unless you call and we say otherwise), a certain amount of dye is in each laser safety window and the specifications are the same regardless of the thickness. Different thicknesses are simply to enable the window to fit into different places. If you have any questions, be sure to reach out.

To view our selection of laser safety windows, click here.