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of customisation as every lab is different.

Lasermet now has an extensive range of laser safety products, to which it is adding new lines all the time – indeed, there were seven product launches in 2011 alone. On the testing side, it is one of only two sites in the country that is UKAS-accredited for testing to the EN 60825-1 standard for laser safety (the other is the National Physical Laboratory (NPL)). The company also undertakes laser protection advisory work, principally for organisations such as hospitals and cosmetic clinics.

When Paul first joined Lasermet in 1994, turnover was very low – under £100k – but last year it achieved revenues in excess of £2m and a staff of 18. ‘In recent years, we’ve seen significant year-on- year growth, even throughout the financial turmoil of 2008/9,’ says Paul. Its market is still largely the UK, but Lasermet has distribution in the US, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand – and the network is continuing to develop rapidly.

Exporting to the US has its own challenges, particularly in relation to FDA regulations. ‘Every product that has a laser in it has to be registered with the FDA,’ says Paul. ‘We carry out this process on behalf of the client to ensure the product can get into the country without any problems.’ Going forward, Paul is excited about Lasermet’s latest products, which include the Optoblok, an optical table laser guarding system. ‘When lasers are mounted on an optical table, if a laser misses an optic, for example, it could go firing off around the room,’ explains Paul. ‘Obviously this is potentially very dangerous, so a laser guarding system helps reduce this risk considerably. We worked with the NPL, who had prototyped just such a system, to develop and commercialise it ready for production.’ FEBRUARY 2012 l ELECTRO OPTICS 9

Also launched was the Laser

Jailer, an active laser guarding system, which combines a fail- safe detection technique with the company’s existing interlock system technology. It has been designed to contain high power laser beams in a relatively small and light enclosure. It has an active inner enclosure, comprising detector tiles connected to the Interlock Controller. If a stray

laser beam impacts on one of the tiles, the Interlock will immediately switch off the laser. ‘We developed this specifically for a client that was using a 16kW laser designed for drilling through rock,’ says Paul. ‘For this reason, a passive enclosure simply wouldn’t have been effective as the laser would have burned through very quickly. The active enclosure ensures the laser is shut

down within 50ms.’ Paul is proud of the success of the company and continues: ‘When you take into account the extensive range of laser safety products - most of which are designed and manufactured in Britain - and the services provided such as laser safety training, laser testing and consultancy, Lasermet is certainly a world leader in its field.’ l

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