The interlock of a laser is a mechanism which can contribute to laser safety by automatically switching off the laser or by blocking a laser beam, e.g. when a protective box or a door is opened. Commercial lasers often have interlock connections on the back side of the laser driver (i.e. the electronic controls). This is suitable for connecting some device which recognizes potentially dangerous situations:
- An electrical contact may be installed at a door, such that people entering that door are protected.
- A light curtain or a laser scanner may be used to monitor the presence of persons in a dangerous area.
- A people counter at some entry can fulfill the same purpose. It counts the persons entering or leaving the dangerous area.
In some cases, numerical pads allow legitimate (and correspondingly informed) users to override the interlock if they know a certain code.
As interlocks can be annoying in real life, they are often manipulated, particularly in research labs. Therefore, their usefulness for laser safety should not be overestimated.
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