Aug 14, 2015

Laser-illuminated projection: shedding light on regulations

Cinema 4 min read last updated on: Aug 25, 2016

Laser-illuminated projection is currently a hot topic; this new technology combines all the benefits of solid-state lighting with enhanced image quality. Laser-illuminated projection is linked to a unique set of worldwide regulations different from traditional lamp driven projection.


For the last 3 years Barco has been leading discussions with the different regulatory bodies to update and align LIP regulations. Furthermore, Barco participates in worldwide injury threshold research to determine the true risks of high brightness projectors. In addition, Barco is well represented in the relevant international safety standards committee (IEC TC-76 relevant for optical radiation) paving the way for the more appropriate, recently published IEC 62417-5 standard. We are planning to inform you more in depth on these initiatives in future posts. This comprehensive knowledge allows the Belgian design team to create state-of-the-art projectors that comply with strict safety regulations while minimizing installation and operation restrictions.

Most recently, Barco and other members of LIPA were invited to discuss the impact of the recently posed FDA guidance document1. This complex document caused significant confusion in the industry and its stakeholders. Daily Display wrote an article attempting to clarify the impact of the guidance document, focused on blue laser light-pumped phosphor projectors. Recently, LIPA provided feedback on this article.

Via this blogpost, we want to give you more in-depth information and, most importantly, explain what this means for the current fleet of Barco projectors.

Different standards

During the last few months, a lot has changed in terms of product safety requirements for laser-illuminated projectors (this will be explained in a dedicated post). In short, a new global laser safety standard was published (IEC 60825-1:2014) and adopted in multiple countries (Europe, Japan …) except for the USA. This new laser safety standard refers to the series of lamp based standards (IEC 62471) where the IEC 62471-5:2015 “Photobiological safety of lamps and lamp systems – Part 5: Image projectors” has laser projectors in its scope. This new set of standards allows manufactures to classify projectors as: a combination of the internal, non-accessible laser sources, assign it a laser CLASS combined with a RISK GROUP assignment based on the amount of light outputted by the projector. Shifting LIPs from heavily regulated Class 3B or 4 devices to Class 1 Risk group X2  devices. This approach results in safe devices regulated in a realistic manner (as lamp-based products).

The FDA Guidance document was created approximately one year ago, and does not reflect the current (new) international safety standards. The FDA Guidance document refers to a set of (older) standards resulting in a strict classification of LIPs.

As presented in the Display Daily article, applying the requirements in the guidance document would result in a substantial market barrier. The conservative graphical example, considering a generic single-chip projector, would place the free market accessible limit at 3,000 lm.

FDA laser standard guidance

It should be noted that this does not apply on any specific Barco laser projector; 3,000 lm should be considered as a very conservative number. In reality the limiting value depends on the radiance of the product. Radiance L [W/m²sr] of the projector relates to the optical power, f/#, DMD size and implemented throw ratio; as radiance can be determined via 

Formula

The purpose of Figure 1 was to explain the potential (worst case) impact on products based on the new set of international product safety standards and the FDA guidance document. What is the effect now on current laser-illuminated projectors sold in the USA market?

Non-binding

It should be clear that the FDA Guidance document is an alternative parallel track of certifying laser-illuminated projectors. The “old” set of CFR regulations in combination with laser notice 50 and CTL decision sheet 1028 still apply and will not affect current products on the market. Logically, as long as the guidance document implies more strict requirements on LIPs Barco, will still follow the old set of USA rules.

PGWX-62L & PGWU-62L

Present-P laser phosphor projectorClassified as a Class 2 IEC 60825-1:2007 laser product, no additional safety requirements apply; please consult the safety manuals of PGWX-62L and PGWU-62L for more details.

DP4K-60L laser-illuminated projector

DP4K-L series

Barco’s flagship RGB laser cinema projectors represent a “Class 4 laser source”. These devices were granted a variance, issued by the FDA CDRH, to be installed in restricted (cinema) venues under specific conditions. The FDA guidance document does not impact this application. Please contact you regional sales representative for more information. We will happily demonstrate the stunning image quality of the DP4K-L series and provide support on these regulatory topics.

The future 

All new Barco products will comply with the new set of international product safety standards reflecting latest scientific knowledge. Low and medium brightness projectors will have the same requirements compared to lamp-based systems. Only very high-brightness Risk Group 3 projectors will be sold with specific installation requirements. 

Barco does anticipate the FDA CDRH optical radiation safety experts to align with the new set of IEC standards; and reflect this in new rulemaking.

Future blog post will elaborate on and explain the current and evolving regulatory situation in more detail. Stay tuned via www.barco.com/laser

If you have any specific questions, feel free to contact me via Jan.daem@barco.com or leave a comment below.

1 Ucm434502: http://www.fda.gov/ucm/groups/fdagov-public/@fdagov-meddev-gen/documents/document/ucm434502.pdf

2 X can represent Risk Group 2 or Risk Group 3; with Risk Group 3 representing the brightest output

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