What Are Laser Cutters and How Do They Work?

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man cutting out snowflakes on poster board with laser cutter

Lasers capture the imagination of children and adults alike, but the idea that focused beams of mere light can cut through objects is truly mind-blowing. If you wonder, “What are laser cutters, and how do they work?” then look no further. Here is a brief overview of lasers, laser cutters, and their various applications.

What Are Lasers?

The word “laser” is a household term nowadays, but it actually began as an acronym. LASER stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. This mix of scientific terminology essentially refers to the way lasers focus light through a lens into a precise point. The intensity of this process determines the various grades of lasers. In fact, there is an entire laser classification system that organizes commercial and industrial lasers based on wattage. This system then correlates with an eye injury hazard system to help you know when the focused light would harm your body. There are dozens of types of lasers, but CO2 and Neodymium lasers are the most common in laser cutting industries.

What Is Laser Cutting?

Laser cutting utilizes the same principles as regular lasers except for the purpose of cutting, engraving, or marking materials. The process begins with reflecting light inside a specialized box until it reaches the maximum energy to escape as a singular beam. The beam then travels through a focusing lens and lands on the work surface. The ultra-focused light rests on the materials for a brief time until it accomplishes the desired work. Cutting through a wooden beam will take longer than if you simply engrave its surface.

When Are They Used?

Laser cutting works on all sorts of materials, and, because of this versatility, professionals use them in various industries. Lasers can cut through or engrave wood, metal, acrylic, and even paper. Though the laser cutter itself usually resides in manufacturing facilities, laser-cut products and parts supply many businesses. Industries that must repeatedly produce the same parts utilize laser cutters to mark or engrave items like metal piping and bolts with product numbers. The power of the laser allows it to make a permanent mark on a piece of metal without harming its integrity, so you can trust that your laser simply spelled out the number but did not cut through the metal pipe.

Now, if anyone ever asks you what laser cutters are and how they work, you’ll be ready with an answer. Though manufacturing is their most common application, these spectacular tools can work in all kinds of environments. If you are looking for precise, quick, and easily replicable results, consider switching to laser cutting for your business or personal needs!

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