Getting Started with Laser Cutting

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The last time you wanted tocut something in your workshop, what tool did you reach for first? If you are like most people, the chances are good that you reached for your trusty power saw to make short work of whatever it was you were cutting. But, what if, on the other hand, you wanted to make a cut that was highly accurate and resulted in no waste? Now what tool would you reach for? If you are like a growing number of workers, you probably reached for your laser cutter.

Laser cutters are taking the workaday world by storm. That’s primarily because laser cutters offer the opportunity to help create all sorts of different things. It doesn’t matter whether you want to make a simple box or a detailed graphic on wood or a complicated three-dimensional object. The trouble is that most people still believe that lasers are still the stuff of science fiction and are unfamiliar with how they are used now. For more information, check out Boss Laser’s BBB profile.

What is a Laser Cutter and How Does it Work?

A laser cutter is, much as its name implies, a tool that allows a person to cut an object or material using a laser. Lasers are highly focused, concentrated beams of light. This concentrated light differs from saws in that, instead of ripping through materials it is cutting, a laser melts, burns, or vaporizes the material to result in the cut that is desired. Laser cutters can be used to cut and engrave many types of materials, including non-metallic materials such as wood, textiles, paper, acrylic, and leather.

When a laser is in actual use, a beam is directed via a series of mirrors and lenses to the material to be cut. Computer controlled motors guide the laser head to engrave or cut the material into the desired shape. The shape to be cut is defined by a file consisting of a vector and raster image. When the laser hits the material to be cut, it it vaporized for a very short period, causing the cut desired.

Why a Laser Cutter?

With all the options available to workers today, why should they choose a laser cutter for their work? What follows are just a few examples of jobs that are ideal for a laser cutter.

  • Cutting. When the laser is allowed to proceed through the material, it is cut. The advantage of a laser is that this cut is very clean and accurate. The look of the edges depends on the material. For example, wood that has been cut with a laser appears darker than with a traditional saw.
  • Engraving. An engraving is what results from a laser that is not allowed to cut all the way though materials. Instead, only the surface material is removed.
  • Marking. Marking is when material from an object is not removed but is only allowed to make a mark. This generally done when the material is metal.

There are different types of lasers on the market today, each with its own specialties. Checking them out will reveal what is best for a given application.

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