How to select the right light curtain


You want to improve workplace safety within your business, and you’ve heard about light curtains, but you don’t know how to choose the right one for the job. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s look at what they are, what they are used for and how to select the right light curtain for your business’s needs.




A light curtain is an optoelectronic device that is used as an alternative to mechanical barriers and machine guards. The transmitter sends a curtain of infrared beams to the receiver. If this light stream is interrupted, then within a fraction of a second it shuts down the connected machinery. The light curtain is monitored and controlled through a microprocessor, and once a shutdown is triggered, the machinery must be reset and reactivated once the danger zone is cleared. Light curtains, safety light barriers or safety light screens are based on technology developed around 70 years ago.




You can use a light curtain to safeguard an entire warehouse or a hazardous area – perimeter control. Or they can be used to protect operators from the moving parts of machinery – point of operation. The scanning distance of light curtains can vary from centimeters to 20 meters, so large areas like doorways can be protected or small areas or zones. However, it is the beam resolution that determines the sensitivity of the light curtain. The smaller the resolution, the smaller the body parts it can detect. For example, a 14mm beam resolution can identify a finger.




The light curtains can be used on machinery that will shut down immediately. If the machine continues its run before shutting down, then the light curtain can’t prevent injuries. When the machinery does turn off mid-process, then nothing can beat a light curtain in accident prevention. A few samples of where a light curtain is a perfect solution include:


  • Packaging machines
  • Textile machinery
  • Electronic component assembly line
  • Process machinery
  • Automated warehouses
  • Mechanical and hydraulic power presses




Standard barriers and guards can be easily moved aside, and machinery access achieved. There is no mechanism to shut the equipment down, and workers can be hurt. Perhaps they think they can quickly reach in and grab something out of the way — a light curtain will not allow this. As soon as they put their hand into the area, the light stream is interrupted, and the equipment shuts off in a fraction of a second. They do not block vision, and operators, maintenance workers and service providers are all protected with a light curtain.




Before you make your light curtain purchases, find a reputable dealer you can trust. With a team like those at RS Components, you can be sure you will get professional help, quality products and great service.


When traditional barriers and safety guards don’t provide the right protection and safety for your workers, then light curtains could be the answer. Not only will they protect your employees, but they will protect your business too.