Thorlabs Inc.
Visit the Blackout and Laser Safety Materials page for pricing and availability information

Blackout and Laser Safety Materials

  • Block Stray or Unwanted Light
  • Build Light-Tight Structures
  • Protect Light-Sensitive Equipment

BK5

Blackout, Nylon Fabric with
Polyurethane Coating

LPCM1

Laser Safety Fabric
Certified to EN 12254:2010(E)

VBB060

Vertical Blackout Blinds

T743-2.0

High-Performance 
Black Masking Tape

TB4

Black Hardboard

BKF12

Black Aluminum Foil

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OVERVIEW

Blackout Material Reflectance
Click to Enlarge
Data Obtained at 8° AOI

Thorlabs offers a complete selection of blackout materials that are designed to control stray or ambient light, which can adversely affect experiments or components within a setup (e.g. photodetectors). These materials are especially beneficial when using high-gain detection equipment, such as in photon counting experiments, since high-gain detectors are easily saturated by room light. In ellipsometry and certain polarimetry techniques, blackout materials may be used to prevent reductions in accuracy caused by ambient light.

We offer blackout fabric, hardboard, posterboard, self-adhesive black flocked paper, aluminum foil, masking tape, and vertical blinds.

Please note that on this page, only the Laser Safety Fabric is laser safety rated. All other items on this page are not intended to be used for laser safety. For more information, please see the Laser Safety tab above.


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LASER SAFETY

Laser Safety and Classification

Safe practices and proper usage of safety equipment should be taken into consideration when operating lasers. The eye is susceptible to injury, even from very low levels of laser light. Thorlabs offers a range of laser safety accessories that can be used to reduce the risk of accidents or injuries. Laser emission in the visible and near infrared spectral ranges has the greatest potential for retinal injury, as the cornea and lens are transparent to those wavelengths, and the lens can focus the laser energy onto the retina. 

Laser Glasses Laser Curtains Blackout Materials
Enclosure Systems Laser Viewing Cards Alignment Tools
Shutter and Controllers Laser Safety Signs

Safe Practices and Light Safety Accessories

  • Laser safety eyewear must be worn whenever working with Class 3 or 4 lasers.
  • Regardless of laser class, Thorlabs recommends the use of laser safety eyewear whenever working with laser beams with non-negligible powers, since metallic tools such as screwdrivers can accidentally redirect a beam.
  • Laser goggles designed for specific wavelengths should be clearly available near laser setups to protect the wearer from unintentional laser reflections.
  • Goggles are marked with the wavelength range over which protection is afforded and the minimum optical density within that range.
  • Laser Safety Curtains and Laser Safety Fabric shield other parts of the lab from high energy lasers.
  • Blackout Materials can prevent direct or reflected light from leaving the experimental setup area.
  • Thorlabs' Enclosure Systems can be used to contain optical setups to isolate or minimize laser hazards.
  • A fiber-pigtailed laser should always be turned off before connecting it to or disconnecting it from another fiber, especially when the laser is at power levels above 10 mW.
  • All beams should be terminated at the edge of the table, and laboratory doors should be closed whenever a laser is in use.
  • Do not place laser beams at eye level.
  • Carry out experiments on an optical table such that all laser beams travel horizontally.
  • Remove unnecessary reflective items such as reflective jewelry (e.g., rings, watches, etc.) while working near the beam path.
  • Be aware that lenses and other optical devices may reflect a portion of the incident beam from the front or rear surface.
  • Operate a laser at the minimum power necessary for any operation.
  • If possible, reduce the output power of a laser during alignment procedures.
  • Use beam shutters and filters to reduce the beam power.
  • Post appropriate warning signs or labels near laser setups or rooms.
  • Use a laser sign with a lightbox if operating Class 3R or 4 lasers (i.e., lasers requiring the use of a safety interlock).
  • Do not use Laser Viewing Cards in place of a proper Beam Trap.

 

Laser Classification

Lasers are categorized into different classes according to their ability to cause eye and other damage. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is a global organization that prepares and publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic, and related technologies. The IEC document 60825-1 outlines the safety of laser products. A description of each class of laser is given below:

Class Description Warning Label
1 This class of laser is safe under all conditions of normal use, including use with optical instruments for intrabeam viewing. Lasers in this class do not emit radiation at levels that may cause injury during normal operation, and therefore the maximum permissible exposure (MPE) cannot be exceeded. Class 1 lasers can also include enclosed, high-power lasers where exposure to the radiation is not possible without opening or shutting down the laser.  Class 1
1M Class 1M lasers are safe except when used in conjunction with optical components such as telescopes and microscopes. Lasers belonging to this class emit large-diameter or divergent beams, and the MPE cannot normally be exceeded unless focusing or imaging optics are used to narrow the beam. However, if the beam is refocused, the hazard may be increased and the class may be changed accordingly.  Class 1M
2 Class 2 lasers, which are limited to 1 mW of visible continuous-wave radiation, are safe because the blink reflex will limit the exposure in the eye to 0.25 seconds. This category only applies to visible radiation (400 - 700 nm).  Class 2
2M Because of the blink reflex, this class of laser is classified as safe as long as the beam is not viewed through optical instruments. This laser class also applies to larger-diameter or diverging laser beams.  Class 2M
3R Class 3R lasers produce visible and invisible light that is hazardous under direct and specular-reflection viewing conditions. Eye injuries may occur if you directly view the beam, especially when using optical instruments. Lasers in this class are considered safe as long as they are handled with restricted beam viewing. The MPE can be exceeded with this class of laser; however, this presents a low risk level to injury. Visible, continuous-wave lasers in this class are limited to 5 mW of output power.  Class 3R
3B Class 3B lasers are hazardous to the eye if exposed directly. Diffuse reflections are usually not harmful, but may be when using higher-power Class 3B lasers. Safe handling of devices in this class includes wearing protective eyewear where direct viewing of the laser beam may occur. Lasers of this class must be equipped with a key switch and a safety interlock; moreover, laser safety signs should be used, such that the laser cannot be used without the safety light turning on. Laser products with power output near the upper range of Class 3B may also cause skin burns.  Class 3B
4 This class of laser may cause damage to the skin, and also to the eye, even from the viewing of diffuse reflections. These hazards may also apply to indirect or non-specular reflections of the beam, even from apparently matte surfaces. Great care must be taken when handling these lasers. They also represent a fire risk, because they may ignite combustible material. Class 4 lasers must be equipped with a key switch and a safety interlock.  Class 4
All class 2 lasers (and higher) must display, in addition to the corresponding sign above, this triangular warning sign.  Warning Symbol

Hide Blackout Fabric

Blackout Fabric

  • Polyurethane Coating on Weaved Nylon Fabric
  • Double-Layered Use is Recommended for Extremely Sensitive Applications
  • Available from Stock in 5' x 9' Sheets (W x L)
  • Custom Lengths Available by Contacting Tech Support
  • Not Intended for Use in Laser Safety Applications

This black, polyurethane-coated nylon fabric provides an easy method for protecting light-sensitive equipment, as the polyurethane coating prevents light from penetrating through the weave of the nylon. Double-layer use is recommended for extremely sensitive applications. Please note that this material is not intended for use as a laser curtain since it is not flame retardant. The fabric has also not been tested for clean room compatibility.

We can cut this material into custom lengths (in yards) that fit your application. Please contact Tech Support for a quote.


Part Number
Description
Price
Availability
BK5
Black Nylon, Polyurethane-Coated Fabric, 5' x 9' (1.5 m x 2.7 m) x 0.005" (0.12 mm) Thick
$52.48
Today

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Black Posterboard

  • Blocks Stray or Unwanted Light
  • Easily Shaped with Scissors or a Utility Knife
  • 1/16" (1.6 mm) Thick, Solid Cardboard Panel
  • Not Intended for Use in Laser Safety Applications

Thorlabs' black panels are an essential component of light-tight enclosures. Our TB5 Black Posterboard is 1/16" (1.6 mm) thick and ships in packages of five 20" x 30" (50.8 cm x 76.2 cm) panels. Simply score the panel with a utility knife and bend to form a light-tight corner. We recommend using our 2" wide black masking tape for other joints to eliminate the passage of light through those areas. 


Part Number
Description
Price
Availability
TB5
Black Posterboard, 20" x 30" (508 mm x 762 mm), 1/16" (1.6 mm) Thick, 5 Sheets
$50.06
Today

Hide Black Construction Hardboard

Black Construction Hardboard

Black Paper Reflectivity
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The data was obtained at an 8° AOI. Please note that the curve above shows reflectance of the TB4 hardboard, not the TB5 posterboard.
Close-Up of the TB4
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Close-Up of TB4
Enclosure with TB4 Panels
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Enclosure with TB4 Panels
  • Blocks Stray or Unwanted Light
  • Easily Shaped with a Utility Knife
  • 3/16" Thick, Plastic-Coated Cardboard Panel with Foam Core
  • Not Intended for Use in Laser Safety Applications

Thorlabs' TB4 Black Hardboard is 3/16" (4.76 mm) thick and ships in packages of three 24" x 24" (61.0 cm x 61.0 cm) panels. Compared to TB5 above, the increased thickness provides enhanced acoustic absorption, while the foam core (pictured to the right) helps it remain lightweight. We recommend using our 2" wide black masking tape for corners and other joints to eliminate the passage of light through those areas. This is the same hardboard used in our preconfigured optical enclosures.

Upon request, we can offer the TB4 hardboard in custom sizes up to 48" x 48" (121.9 cm x 121.9 cm) to customers in North America, or up to 44" x 32" (111.8 cm x 81.3 cm) elsewhere. Please contact Tech Support for a quote.


Part Number
Description
Price
Availability
TB4
Black Hardboard, 24" x 24" (610 mm x 610 mm), 3/16" (4.76 mm) Thick, 3 Sheets
$69.26
Today

Hide Black Flocked Self-Adhesive Paper

Black Flocked Self-Adhesive Paper

Black Paper Reflectivity
Click to Enlarge
Data Obtained at 8° AOI
  • Self-Adhesive
  • Does Not Shed Dust or Lint
  • 30" x 30" x 0.012" (76.2 cm x 76.2 cm x 0.305 mm) Without Backing
  • Not Intended for Use in Laser Safety Applications

Flocked paper is a self-adhesive material made of many fine fibers. It has a textured, matte-black surface. When viewed at from low angles, it absorbs virtually 100% of the visible light that strikes it. The fibers will not shed dust or lint, unlike some velvet and felt materials. The approximate compressed thickness of the flocked paper is 0.015" (0.381 mm) with the backing and 0.012" (0.305 mm) without the backing.

Image contrast can suffer due to stray light reaching the focal plane of many applications where the light path travels through a tube or other enclosed area. Applying a flat-black paint to the inside may help, but a textured matte-black surface is a much more effective light trap.

Caution: Do not cut the BFP1 black flocked paper with a laser cutting tool, as the BFP1 burns easily and may catch fire. It is suggested that you use a utility knife or other sharp edged tool to cut the BFP1.


Part Number
Description
Price
Availability
BFP1
Black Flocked Paper, 30" x 30" (762 mm x 762 mm) Sheet
$31.83
Today

Hide Black Aluminum Foil

Black Aluminum Foil

Blackout Material Reflectance
Click to Enlarge
Data Obtained at 8° AOI
  • Ideal for Masking Light Leaks and Eliminating Unwanted Reflections
  • Highly Flexible, Lightweight, and Corrosion Resistant
  • Use with a Wide Range of Radiation Sources (Including X-Ray and UV)
  • Not Intended for Use in Laser Safety Applications

This durable, lightweight foil has a matte black finish to absorb light from any ambient or conventional light source. It can be molded quickly to form blackout covers, dark rooms, laser channels, or other configurations so as to mask light leaks or eliminate unwanted reflections. Secure its position using tape, staples, or adhesives. This black aluminum foil is sold on a roll and measures 1' x 50' (305 mm x 15.2 m).


Part Number
Description
Price
Availability
BKF12
Matte Black Aluminum Foil, 1' x 50' (305 mm x 15.2 m) x .002" (50 ┬Ám) Thick
$32.47
Today

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Black Masking Tape

Demonstration 1
Click to Enlarge

High-Performance Black Masking Tape
Demonstration 2
Click to Enlarge

Black Masking Tape
  • 1" (25 mm) and 2" (50 mm) Wide Versions Available
  • Paper-Based Masking Tape for General Purpose or Blackout Applications
  • Aluminum Foil Tape for Total Blackout Applications
  • Can be Torn by Hand and Removed Easily Without Leaving Residue
  • Not Intended for Use in Laser Safety Applications

Thorlabs offers a standard and high-performance black masking tape, as well as an aluminum foil masking tape. All types of tape can be torn by hand, are easy to remove, and do not leave a residue. The T137-1.0 and T137-2.0 black masking tape can be used for general applications. For applications requiring minimal ambient light transmission, the T743-1.0 or T743-2.0 high-performance black masking tape is recommended. For total blackout requirements or high-power applications, we offer the T205-1.0 or T205-2.0 non-reflective, flame-retardant aluminum tape. This foil tape has been tested to withstand up to 10 seconds of exposure from a 20 W, Ø6 mm, 10.6 µm laser beam.

In the photographs shown above, a collimated LED (Item # M530L2-C2) with approximately 170 mW output power was used to illustrate how the T743-2.0 high-performance tape allows very little light transmission as compared to the T137-2.0 standard black masking tape. The table below gives the measured power and percent transmittance when various wavelengths of light were incident upon each type of tape.

Black Tape Performance
Incident Power Measured Output Power (% Transmittance)
T137-2.0 Masking Tape T743-2.0 High-Performance Masking Tape T205-2.0 Aluminum Foil Tape
1.07 mW at 635 nm 1.34 µW (0.13%) 0.90 µW (0.08%) Zero (0%)
4.79 mW at 635 nm 5.92 µW (0.12%) 0.24 µW (<0.01%) Zero (0%)
1.41 mW at 632.991a 3.36 µW (0.24%) 0.012 µW (<0.01%) Zero (0%)
20.34 mW at 850 nmb 28.74 µW (0.14%) 1.04 µW (<0.01%) 0.0006 µW (<1 x 10-5%)
  • Tested using the former-generation HRS015 Stabilized HeNe Laser, which has been replaced by the HRS015B.
  • Tested using the LDM850 laser module.

Part Number
Description
Price
Availability
T137-1.0
Black Masking Tape, 1" x 180' (25 mm x 55 m) Roll
$10.18
Today
T137-2.0
Black Masking Tape, 2" x 180' (50 mm x 55 m) Roll
$17.10
Today
T743-1.0
High-Performance Black Masking Tape, 1" x 180' (25 mm x 55 m) Roll
$21.10
Today
T743-2.0
High-Performance Black Masking Tape, 2" x 180' (50 mm x 55 m) Roll
$42.20
Today
T205-1.0
Customer Inspired! AT205 Black Aluminum Foil Tape 1" x 81' (25 mm x 25 m) Roll
$31.92
Today
T205-2.0
Customer Inspired! AT205 Black Aluminum Foil Tape 2" x 81' (50 mm x 25 m) Roll
$61.42
Lead Time

Hide Laser Safety Fabric

Laser Safety Fabric

Laser Safety Fabric Certifications
Wavelength Certificationa
180 nm to 315 nm D AB10
I AB5
R AB4
M AB4
315 nm to 1050 nm D AB7
315 nm to 1400 nm R AB6
I AB8
M AB8
1050 nm to 1400 nm D AB5
1400 nm to 10.6 µm D AB4
I AB5
R AB2
  • These certification levels are reproduced from EN 12254: 2010(E).

Click to Enlarge
A laser safety label is attached to the rolls of fabric with 1.0 m and 3.05 m lengths.
  • Laser Rated Fabric Certified to EN 12254: 2010(E)
  • 1.6 m Wide Fabric in 1.0 m, 3.05 m, and 10.0 m Lengths
  • 1.65 mm Thick
  • Can Be Easily Cut into Custom Sizes
  • Flame Retardant
  • Custom Lengths Available by Contacting Tech Support

Thorlabs' laser safety fabric is designed to withstand high laser energy up to EN 12254: 2010(E) certification with the flexibility to be cut into custom sizes to suit experimental needs. The laser rated material is made of a rubber compound fabric, which is the same material used to make our laser safety curtain panels. The table to the right gives the certifications applicable for certain wavelength regions; to see the complete EN 12254: 2010(E) certification, please click here. The customizable nature of this fabric makes it ideal for creating window covers and building custom enclosures for experiments and optical systems. Please ensure that the cutting tool you are using is sharp in order to reduce frayed edges. A red laser safety label, as seen in the image to the right, is attached to each sheet of 1.0 m and 3.05 m long fabric.

Some material may need to be trimmed off either end of the LPCM10 prior to use. However, a minimum of 10.0 m of usable material is included. Please note that the LPCM10 is shipped in a crate weighing over 60 kg (132 lbs) and requires a forklift for transport. The roll itself is approximately 30 kg (66 lbs); a team lift is recommended.

*DISCLAIMER
This laser safety fabric has been tested by a third party using EN specifications; to see the complete certification details, please click here. Due to manufacturing variances, mechanical wear, and laser damage, Thorlabs assumes no responsibility for laser material failure. Please consult your local laser safety specialist before purchasing to ensure that the fabric is suitable for your application. To minimize risk, inspect the material before each use and ensure that it is in excellent condition.


Part Number
Description
Price
Availability
LPCM1
Laser Safety Fabric, 1.6 m x 1.0 m (W x L)
$339.49
Today
LPCM3
Customer Inspired! Laser Safety Fabric, 1.6 m x 3.05 m (W x L)
$909.15
Lead Time
LPCM10
Customer Inspired! Laser Safety Fabric, 1.6 m x 10.0 m (W x L)
$2,719.20
Today

Hide Vertical Blackout Blinds

Vertical Blackout Blinds

  • Blackout Material
  • 1.7 m (66.9") Drop
  • Choice of Four Widths: 600 mm (23.6"), 900 mm (35.4"), 1200 mm (47.2"), or 1500 mm (59.1")
  • Can Be Fitted Inside or Outside the Window Recess
  • Conventional Roller Blind Chain Operating System
  • Not Intended for Use in Laser Safety Applications

These blackout blinds are made from a black, rubberized fabric. Designed for applications where light exclusion is required, such as laboratories and dark rooms, they can be used to keep stray light out of photosensitive setups. They are also useful for preventing bright sources from being visible by people outside the lab. The fabric is totally opaque, and the blinds are manually operated by a side chain. They can be attached to the wall or window recess using the two brackets and four screws that are supplied. Please note that the blinds are not intended for use as a laser curtain since the material is not flame retardant. The material has also not been tested for cleanroom compatibility.


Part Number
Description
Price
Availability
VBB060
Vertical Blackout Blind, 600 mm x 1700 mm (23.6" x 66.9")
$108.21
Today
VBB090
Vertical Blackout Blind, 900 mm x 1700 mm (35.4" x 66.9")
$153.67
Today
VBB120
Vertical Blackout Blind, 1200 mm x 1700 mm (47.2" x 66.9")
$159.07
Today
VBB150
Vertical Blackout Blind, 1500 mm x 1700 mm (59.1" x 66.9")
$164.48
Today