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Laser Pointer FAQ

Laser pointers and other laser equipment is often misunderstood, and in Australia sometimes controversial. Here are some frequently asked questions about Laser Pointers and their answers. If you have a question that isn't listed below, please feel free to contact us here.

 

What is nm on a laser pointer?

nm stands for nanometer and is a measurement of the wavelength of light emitted from the laser or any other light emitting device. nm determines the colour of the laser pointer. For example: 532nm is a green laser and 650nm is a red laser.

 

What does mW mean on a laser pointer?

mW stands for milliwatt and is a measurement of the power output of a laser device or other energy emitting device. The higher the mW rating, the more powerful the laser. Keep in mind that in Australia, laser pointers exceeding 1mW in power can only be possessed by a permit holder or those with a lawful excuse. (It depends on your state, for more information on laser law see here.)

 

What are the laser laws in Australia?

Australia has some of the strictest laser pointer laws in the world, and for good reason. In 2008, Australia experienced several coordinated laser attacks on commercial aircraft which forced legislation changes statewide. You can lean more about the law surrounding laser pointers in Australia at Australian Laser Pointer Laws.

 

What are laser pointers used for?

Laser pointers have a near endless number of uses. From pointing at a presentation to directing and aligning huge mining machines, and even swimming pool servicing. Laser pointers are a vital tool which are used everyday by countless people around Australia.

 

Why are some lasers brighter than others?

Light is a strange and fascinating thing. Take for example a green laser and a red laser, both with the same 1mW power output. The green laser will appear brighter and more powerful than the red laser, even though they are both emitting the same amount of power. This is because the human eye is more receptive to light in the 532nm range (green) than it is to 650nm (red). This is why night vision goggles have a green display, and this is why red, purple and many other colour lasers appear to be less powerful.

 

What's so good about a purple laser pointer?

Although they don't seem as bright as your standard green laser, purple lasers emit more ultraviolet light. This allows you to effictively "draw" on glow-in-the-dark items. That's right! You can draw on UV reactive paint, or anything that glows in the dark. Always be careful of your eyes!