Laser safety windows come in two different materials: acrylic and glass. Which is right for you?
Glass vs. Acrylic Laser Safety Windows
There are several differences between glass and acrylic laser safety windows that will have an impact on which one you decide to purchase. Size, protection, and ease of installation are all factors that will help determine which material you go with.
Laser safety windows are used to view lasers and operating laser systems safely. Some common uses for laser windows are enclosures, walls, glove boxes, and viewing windows of various sizes.
If you’re wondering whether to get your laser safety window in acrylic or glass, here’s some useful information:
- Glass laser safety windows offer the highest VLT and optical density protection, making them the safest and easiest to view through.
- Acrylic laser windows are often darker, with lower VLT than glass laser windows. Acrylic also usually has lower VLT ratings than glass, though it still offers ample protection from lasers.
- Glass laser windows are generally small. They have common sizes of 6.5 x 6.5 inches, though they can often be ordered in custom sizes and shapes of various (still small) sizes.
- Acrylic laser safety windows are the larger windows. They are available in square foot sizes, from 1 x 1 foot to sizes up to 2 x 3 feet and sometimes even larger. These are also easier to get in custom shapes and sizes.
- Glass laser windows can usually withstand direct contact from a laser beam for much longer than acrylic laser safety windows can. Because glass has a higher melting point, it will take the laser longer to melt and penetrate glass compared to acrylic.
- Acrylic laser safety windows are usually less expensive than glass laser windows, making them the better choice if you’re trying to save money.
- Acrylic windows are generally easier to install than glass windows are.
There are a variety of things that can affect which window material is best for your application. How big does your viewing port have to be? How likely is it that a stray beam may strike the laser window for a long period before being turned off?
If you are having a hard time choosing laser window material, it is a good idea to contact your laser safety officer to discuss it. If you do not have a laser safety officer, you can contact us through the comments below, or you can give us a call to discuss your laser system and which window is best. The most important thing is always safety. Thanks for reading, and stay safe!