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HQ 951861

July 10, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 951861 MBR


TARIFF NO.: 9031.40.00

Mr. Jon E. Sollid
Sollid Optics, Inc.
365 Valle Del Sol
Los Alamos, NM 87544

RE: Lasermet Rotoviewer Model LMR50; Stroboscope Defined; Optical Instrument

Dear Mr. Sollid:

This is in reply to your letter of February 5, 1992, directed to the Customs office in New York, N.Y., requesting the classification of the "Lasermet Rotoviewer Model LMR50," under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter was referred to this office for response.


The Lasermet Rotoviewer system ("Rotoviewer") is an instrument which can continuously freeze rotational motion in real time. The Rotoviewer allows the rotating component to be viewed continuously, so that its motion can be fully analyzed throughout each cycle of its rotation. The Rotoviewer can be used to measure deflections, strains, vibrations, heat emissions and fluid flow distributions on rotating structures.

The Rotoviewer is mounted on a mechanism which permits the instrument's optical axis to be accurately aligned to the component's rotational axis. After alignment of the axes is achieved, a stationary image can be obtained by causing the rate of rotation of the mirror unit to be exactly one half that of the component. This matching of rotational speed is achieved by utilizing a stepper motor, located in the Rotoviewer head, with a series of electrical impulses from an encoded unit mounted on the shaft of the rotating component. Alternatively, signals can be derived either from a tachogenerator or from a built-in oscillator located in the Rotoviewer's control console. The entire Lasermet Rotoviewer system consists of the head, the alignment unit, the control console, and the LED/encoded unit. There is actually no
laser present in the system.


Is the Lasermet Rotoviewer system classified in subheading 9029.20.60, HTSUS, which provides for stroboscopes, or is classification appropriate under subheading 9031.40.00, HTSUS, which provides for: "[m]easuring or checking instruments...: [o]ther optical instruments and appliances?"


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) to the HTSUS govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states, in pertinent part:

...classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) to heading 9029, HTSUS, page 1523-24, state in pertinent part:


Stroboscopes enable machines in operation to be observed as though they were moving slowly or were stationary; they can also be used to measure the speed of rotating or reciprocating movements. In the latter case, they are known more particularly as stroboscopic tachometers. Stroboscopes operate on the principle of producing apparent immobility or reduced speed in the mechanism to be observed, by means of successive glimpses (flashes) at fixed intervals. The mechanism under observation may be permanently illuminated for examination through an optical instrument (a disc with one or more radial slots or "windows") which interrupts the line of sight; or the mechanism may be placed in the dark and illuminated periodically for very short periods (flashes)....
(Emphasis added).

Although the Rotoviewer "enables machines in operation to be observed as though they were moving slowly or were stationary," it does not function on the stroboscopic principle. There is no "glimpse," "flash," or "window" which interrupts the line of sight. The Rotoviewer allows constant viewing in real time by matching the moving object with a mirror spinning at half the angular velocity. Similarly, for instance, if a video camera were to spin at the same speed as a spinning object, it would create the same stationary real time image of the object, however, it would not be considered a stroboscope. Furthermore, the Rotoviewer is used to measure events which a stroboscope would not necessarily capture, such as fluid flow distributions on rotating structures, vibrations, etc.

Therefore, the Rotoviewer is not classifiable in subheading 9029.20.60, HTSUS, which provides for stroboscopes. However, the Rotoviewer system contains a significant number of optical elements. Chapter 90, HTSUS, Additional U.S. Note 3, provides that: "[f]or the purposes of this chapter, the terms 'optical appliances' and 'optical instruments' refer only to those appliances and instruments which incorporate one or more optical elements, but do not include any appliances or instruments in which the incorporated optical element or elements are solely for viewing a scale or for some other subsidiary purpose." Therefore, because the Lasermet Rotoviewer system Model LMR50 incorporates one or more optical elements that are not subsidiary, it remains classifiable as an optical instrument classifiable in subheading 9031.40.00, HTSUS.


The Lasermet Rotoviewer system model LMR50 is classifiable in subheading 9031.40.00, HTSUS, which provides for: "[m]easuring or checking instruments, appliances and machines, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter: [o]ther optical instruments and appliances." The rate of duty is 10% ad valorem.


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