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Ask the Expert: how to choose a laser level?

Published : 02/4/2020 12:48:21
Categories : Mister Worker , Professional working tools guide

Edoardo Riva

Today on the Mister Worker™ Blog we are going to be talking about laser measuring with Edoardo Riva, Stanley Black & Decker’s Marketing Manager.

For many years, laser technology has been present in many sectors: from medicine to communications, from manufacturing to the construction industry. In this context, laser technology is used mainly in levelling and measuring activities. For what concerns levelling, the laser projects a line or a highly visible point and, lately, these kinds of products are self-levelling.

MW: Over the years, laser levels have increased their relevance for maintainers. What makes using a laser level this important?

E.R.: “For many people, laser levelling technology applied to the construction sector allows for greater precision with respect to analog instruments. 

However, that is not true. A traditional instrument, such as the optical level (for example the Stanley 1-77-160, 1-77-245) or a simple plumb line, can be more accurate than a laser level. It is in fact with traditional tools that the precision of laser levels is tested. 

Speed and efficiency in the process of carrying out measurements are the main advantages of laser tools. This leads to an increase in productivity with an acceptable precision tolerance.

MW: What characteristics should a user consider when he wants to buy a laser level?

STANLEY STHT77499-1 - STANLEY® CUBIX™ CROSS LINE GREEN BEAM LASER LEVEL

E.R.: The application should guide the choice:
For a furniture maker who has to place wall units in an indoor environment, a self-levelling laser is suitable for the purpose and, more in general, such an instrument is suitable when the distance between the laser and the line produced is under 2 or 3 meters. Some examples of self-levelling laser are the Stanley Cubix™ STHT77499-1 with green beam and the STHT77498-1 with red beam.

In the case of work on large surfaces, a rotating laser with a receiver which can operate up to a distance of 300/350 meters will be necessary. Some examples are the Stanley models FMHT77446-1, FMHT77448-1, FMHT77447-1, FMHT77449-1.

There are some “tricks” that could help you in recognizing without doubts a high-quality laser:

  • The brightness of the point or of the line: not only in the models with green beam but also in the ones with red beam, the brightness of the colour is essential, because it is easily recognisable, even at a great distance.
  • The stability of the track: in the models with electronic self-levelling, the electric engine should adjust as quick as possible. In the case of laser with mechanical self-levelling, this function is carried out by a pendulum with magnets which damp the oscillations. In both cases, the speed of execution and the stability of the line or point are significant, and they represent the good or bad design of the laser. The main function of these tools is speeding up the execution time: a long time of adjustment may decrease or cancel the benefits.
  • The size of the point or the line. The thinner they are, the better. When we have to mark a track, we do it in the centre of the line. The thicker the line is, the higher is the chance that the track that we mark is inaccurate.

MW: What are the main developments in the world of laser measurement in recent years?

E.R.: “Companies have been orienting production towards meeting the needs of the operator as good as possible. A good example is a multiline laser with green beam. The cross lines and the great visibility of the green beam allow the user to immediately identify the points where to place the necessary elements. The classic example is the uprights for plasterboard walls."

STANLEY STHT77499-1 - STANLEY® CUBIX™ CROSS LINE GREEN BEAM LASER LEVEL

MW: In this context stands Stanley, historic brand in the sector. How does it position itself in the market and how does it stand out from competitors?

E.R.: “The peculiarity of Stanley is the very wide range of products, able to satisfy all professional needs. The ranges vary from 300 meters of radius for rotating lasers, with an accuracy of 1.5mm at 30 meters, to 10 meters of indoor lasers, with an accuracy of 4.5mm at 10 meters. As already mentioned, the application should guide the choice. In any case, the tool must guarantee professional results. "

MW: Laser levels, digital levels: what advice can we give to the end customer who is about to choose a measuring instrument?

E.R.: “My advice is to carefully evaluate your application field and, keeping that in mind, choose the tool that meets your needs. You shouldn’t be guided only by the price or the "smart" performance of the instrument.

Another element which is essential, but often underestimated, is the warranty that the manufacturer provides the client with. Most of all, the existence of an “after market” service is fundamental, because it grants to the client technical assistance also after the standard warranty has expired. Stanley and DeWalt chose to provide a service of maintenance and calibration of their products thanks to a laboratory operated by company’s employees. 

The quality of the assistance service should be a key factor when choosing a laser, especially when the product has a high purchase price.

Rotary laser

MW: What are the aspects Stanley will focus on in the world of measurement in the future? What are the trends that drive innovation in the field of gauges and laser levels?

E.R.: “Also in the field of measuring laser it is essential to carefully evaluate the different needs and segment the offer keeping this in mind. An example may explain this concept better. 

For the installation of windows, you need a really high measuring accuracy, lower than 1.5mm. On the contrary, a lower measuring accuracy may not be a problem for a plumber who has to calculate a volumetry in order to optimize the capacity of a system.

MW: I have just purchased a laser tool, what should I do before I start working?

E.R.: “My first piece of advice is to invest a few minutes of your times to read the instruction manual. Having an understanding on how the product works avoids mistakes, speeds up the use and increases the security. 

My second recommendation deals with the control of calibration. In the event of falls or severe temperature changes, precision may be affected. Check the calibration of the laser following the instructions, it’s a simple and quick action which avoids mistakes and consequent damage.

If a discrepancy with the indicated tolerance, you should contact the assistance centre.”

MW: Are there security issues while using laser instruments?

E.R.: “Regulations state that there are different classes of laser between 1 and 4 depending on the output power. 

For what concerns class 1 and 2, there’s absolutely no risk of eye or skin damage. In any case, it is good practice never to stare at the light source for a long time, exactly as it’s not suggested to stare directly at a light bulb. Stanley and DeWalt use exclusively laser pertaining to class 1 or 2.”

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