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Thread: Lasers and Side Emitting Fiber Optic Cables

  1. #1
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    Laser Warning Lasers and Side Emitting Fiber Optic Cables

    Hello Everybody,

    We do custom designing LED light fixtures with and without fiber optics. We would like to take some of our concepts and use them with lasers, because we think we can get brighter results.

    Our latest design consists of 3mm side emitting plastic fiber optic cable. We would like to inject laser light into the fiber to illuminate the entire fiber cable. Coupling is probably key as we do not want to melt the fiber. We have done some experimenting with 5mW lasers, but we would like to be able to make it significantly brighter. We were told that anything above 5mW would give us melting issues.

    Can we go brighter than 5mW?
    Any sources for coupling ready made parts that would allow us to go brighter?
    Has anybody on here ever done this and what was your experience?
    How long can light emitting lasers stay on before they exceed there usage and burn out?
    Can we run them 24 hours a day?

    Thank you in advance!

  2. #2
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    I've ran 4 watts into sidelight fiber. The trick is to use a small focusing lens, and let the fiber melt to self mode match.

    You can easily get 300 mW down a 1 mm sidelight fiber without a lens.

    Steve

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    Our experiments with cheap laser pointers were unfortunately unsatisfactory
    due to low quality lasers used in those devices.

    It would be great to get help from this list on how to get started without
    spending thousands of dollars.

    Should we source laser diodes from an electronics supplier like DigiKey with
    or without driver circuits and tweak the voltage to test different
    brightness levels?
    Has anybody on this list ever done this and what was your experience?

    We have a decade of experience with LEDs, driver circuits, DMX control, etc
    but are new to lasers (see www.paramedia.net).

    Any advice would be highly appreciated.

    Thank you for your help in advance!

  4. #4
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    The problem is, if you use a laser incorporated into your commercial product, that laser just took you into a whole new set of Federal Regulations. 21 CFR 1040. Your product then is no longer sellable "over the counter", and paperwork must be done for each site install. Least the fiber break and expose the public to acessable laser radiation. This is quite a engineering can of worms, and you'd need to hire a consultant to explain all this to you. Or use a existing laser show company with a "Variance" and approved hardware.

    It is possible to do customized fiber installs that easily comply with the rules, but the word here is "customized".

    I've done this with plastic fiber for amusment parks many years ago. It can be done legally. But its not easy for a beginner to get started with in the US. The rules are not in plain English.

    If your ordering your lasers from Digikey, your really looking in the wrong place. I can suggest professional people who can help with the lasers and the paperwork.

    Non laser sources such as xenon and metal halide are almost as good as a laser. No paperwork needed, other then normal electrical safety if you use UV shielded lamps.
    You just need more of them.

    Steve
    Last edited by mixedgas; 06-21-2012 at 12:35.

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    Steve is spot on, and I also want to add that with Laser the light given off could also be a bit patchy along the fiber where as with xenon the emitted light will be more uniform along the fiber.

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    And there is absolutely no reason to use laser with the availability of very bright and cheap led sources.

    Unless it is something custom and special and you have to have laser for a source stick with led.

    chad

    Edit* I just looked at your website, you do some very cool stuff. Laser could be well used in art installation stuff.


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    Hey,

    Thanks so much for all your helpful replies. More fun research and testing ahead...

    Steve / MixedGas - You mentioned a 1mm side emitting fiber. We only used fibers down to 3mm so far. Where can I get 1mm side emitting fiber? Same question regarding xenon light: Where can I get affordable xenon lasers with a focused beam for experimenting?

    Cheers,

    Jason

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    I'll get back to you in a few days, very busy at work.

    Scratch that, IFO Industrial Fiber Optics, Phoenix Az, has some cool stuff.

    I'll get back to you on the small sidelight, I bet Amanda at One Stop Laser Shop in Tampa still has it.

    Steve

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    ive pumped tens of watts into plastic fibers without burning the ends - by water cooling them. here is how you do it - I would take a clear acrylic tube about 1.25" long, seal both ends by glueing clear plexiglass ends on them. On the input side you drill a hole big enough so that you can glue a 1" fl lens to the input end. On the output end you drill a hole the size of your plastic fiber. Determine about how far you will need to slide the fiber in to match the fl of lens. Fill the open fiber end with water with a syringe. Slide your fiber in to the sweet spot and epoxy it into place. It works fine.
    Pat B on alt.lasers


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    That's an interesting concept Pat, and certainly one I would never have thought of.

    Do you have to have circulating water or is the water that's sealed in the acrylic tube sufficient? doesn't the water get hot if it's not being circulated?

    Just curious
    Quote: "There is a theory which states that if ever, for any reason, anyone discovers what exactly the Universe is for and why it is here it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another that states that this has already happened.... Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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