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Thread: Do I have a realistic chance at a variance?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008

    Default Do I have a realistic chance at a variance?

    I want to use some lasers I have at our haunted house and for a Christmas lighting display I do in the US.

    I have two 300mw green projectors and now a 1.5w RGB.

    They are the from China with CNI diodes. All three have:
    Key lock
    failsafe circuitry on the scanners
    LED emission indicator on the front by the aperture

    The required warning stickers need to be added. Do I need to add beam shutters?

    Would anyone who's been there done that be willing to take me under their wing a bit and help me understand the process? I am a quick study, but the process seems a little daunting from the outside.
    Last edited by fearfair; 05-04-2008 at 06:06.
    Fear Fair - Indiana's Scariest Haunted House

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008


    This company has been selling relabeled dmx stepper motor SHINP lasers from China and claiming no problems with variance, so I would think I ought to be able to get mine certified.

    Heck, this page shows the back of one of their units, and there is clearly no key switch???

    I found a response from them on another forum, they address the lack of a key switch:

    Reply From X-Laser


    Hello all!

    We recieved a link to the posts on the subject of our laser systems and wanted to respond to clear up a few things. There are a fair number of thoughts going around on the boards and some people are dead on and some... well, are WAY off. So here is the deal, straight from the horse's mouth.

    1) High powered laser systems can be dangerous if used improperly, this is beyond dispute. However, a distinction must be made between Class IIIB and Class IV lasers which are less than 1/2 watt down to 5mW and more than 1/2 watt respectively. Class IV lasers carry the highest risk of injury and while there is some risk in Class IIIB the risk is far less and more forgiving. Though under circumstances of extreme misuse to the point of absurdity is is possible for a middle end Class IIIB laser to cause blindness, that is not so much the major concern as flash blindness and/or vision changes after prolonged misuse.

    2) It has been posted that a "key" lock is necessary for Class IIIB and IV lasers to be legal as well as safety interlocks, etc. Most of this is true and is incorporated into the X-Laser product as is required by law. However, a "key" by definition of FDA guidance is not required to be a physical key and locking mechanism. the FDA recognizes dozens of variations of the "key" mechanism beyond the obovious and X-Lasers take advantage of the expanded definition to use a different locking mechanism and thus do not have a physical key. This reduces both the cost and the weight of our lasers and remains fully compliant with FDA requirements.

    3) The person who made the comment about there not being a "laser police" I am sorry to say is very, very incorrect. There are actually three categories of "laser police" who conduct site inspections, repond to injury reports, and periodically spot check venues. The categories are: Uniformed Navy officers who are the most formal laser inspectors employed by the FDA, un-uniformed civilian contractors who are hired to perform laser compliance inspections, and finally your local fire marshall. Any of these people have the power to shut down an illegal laser show as well as impound and destroy any such equipment and submit you to the FDA for fines of up to $300,000.00 per show. Using illegal laser projectors CAN also carry jail time of 5 years per use but getting hit with that is unlikley unless they are being used outside with unterminated beams.

    3) The central issue with laser projectors and legality is not so much about the variance or where you bought it but the legal status of the projector. Projectors which are FDA certified, such as the X-Laser brand, are legal to use in the USA. Anything that is not FDA certified is not, pure and simple.

    Think about it in this train of logic: You can only get a variance on a projector which is FDA certified. Legal projectors can only be sold to people who have variances. Ebay has no mechanism whatsoever for making sure that projectors are certified nor does it have any mechanism for making sure that the high bidder has a variance before completing a sale. Therefore, by definition it is illegal to purchase a laser projector from Ebay that is Class IIIB or higher simply because legal projectors could not be sold in that fashion. Notice also that the listings say that you the purchaser are responsible for knowing your local laws and customs rules.

    4) Finally, with regard to the whole Chinese issue, parts of the X-Laser product do come from China but other parts come from Australia, the UK, and the USA. Each one of our laser units is certified and serviced here in the USA. The laser casings do look very similar to others out there because we get the outer casings and shipping boxes from China. In hindsight, we should have re-engineered a new case to be more distinct but frankly the cases are both rugged, reasonably priced, and built to conform to the necessary international and local standards for such cases.

    Many laser manufacturers use similar parts and casings from around the world. What should matter to you as the end user is the quality of the product being offered and the service offered by the manufacturer. Many of them including Chinese companies make good products but the legal issues remain. Earlier today I saw an all Chinese MAC250 Entour look-alike for $400 with free shipping. Maybe it is a good light, maybe it is not. For the cost, I would guess not but nevertheless, it is not going to cause you to sell your house to pay FDA fines if you get caught using it.

    If nothing else, it is worth mentioning that should you ever need service on the laser it is much easier to get in the USA because the shipping back to Asia alone is going to be extremely expensive plus the customs duties both ways.

    There is a lot more to address but I would prefer not to write more of a novel than I already have. Please feel free to reply to for any further clarification or more information. I hope this is helpful!
    Last edited by fearfair; 05-04-2008 at 06:27.
    Fear Fair - Indiana's Scariest Haunted House

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Connecticut, USA



    the response the company put does seem to be on point for the most part. to answer your question, YES- you could get your projectors varianced. HOWEVER, it may be a question of "HOW" not, "IF."

    the projectors are going to need an initial product report filed with the FDA/CDRH. this is NOT a fun project. it is MANY pages of work to show that the construction, design, safety aspects and system integrations of the laser system as a whole conform to the safety standards of Laser regulations. Any objections or non-compliant issues will need to be rectified and then re-submitted. Once that is complete and APPROVED, the FDA/CDRH will assign the projector an Accession #. in essence, its giving the PROJECTOR an "A-OK" for introduction into commerce. After that point, you will need to apply for a variance on THAT projector to use that system (or systems) in a public venue.

    my experience is to assume this whole process will take approx. 3-6 months. a lot of the info you need will be here. along with their corresponding forms.

    Hope this helps a little.


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