How Do Laser Cutters Work?
Have you ever wondered how manufacturers make such intricate designs and shapes in solid objects? Often, they use a laser cutter to achieve their ideal design. A thin, focused laser beam pierces and cuts into, or through, the desired material. In this blog, we’ll be reviewing how laser cutters work.
What Is a Laser Cutter?
A laser cutter is a type of CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) machine. This means it’s controlled by a computer. A designer designs a product through design software and sends it to the laser cutter to have it cut out automatically. Much like 3D printers, laser cutters can also be rapid prototyping machines, allowing designers to go over their designs quickly and cheaply before they send them on to be produced on a large scale.
How Do Laser Cutters Work?
There are several components that make up a laser cutter. These include the following:
- Laser resonator- where the laser originates; sends out a beam of intense light through reflectors (a system of mirrors) to the cutting head.
- Cutting Head- mounted on an XY gantry; within the cutting head the laser is focused through a lens and narrowed down to an extremely thin, concentrated beam that is projected at the material intended to be cut.
- XY Gantry-a mechanical system that allows for the precise movement of the cutting head.
All laser cutters require a focusing procedure before making their cuts to ensure that the laser cuts sharply.
Methods for Using Laser Cutters
- Software: A designer uses software to create a specific design for the material that they’re working with. Laser cutters come with unique drivers that allow them to take what is on the computer and convert it into a form that the laser cutter can read, which allows the laser cutter to execute the design properly. Many design software packages support laser cutter drivers.
- Vector Cutting: Vector cutting is normally used for cutting out the outline of the part as well as any features or holes that you want to cut out of the material. In vector cutting, the cutting head fires a continuous laser at the material to slice through it. The laser cutter driver reads all the vector paths in the design piece to know where to cut. Once you send your file to the laser cutter, only lines that register as hairline or vector graphics will be cut by the laser. All other graphics will be rastered.
- Laser Rastering: During rastering the laser will burn off the top layer of the material you are working with. Engineers use this technique to create images within a material. To raster materials, the laser is typically set at a lower power level than it’s set at for vector cutting. Rastering creates fine dots at a selected DPI (dots per inch) to ensure that the laser does not cut all the way through the material. DPI directly relates to the image resolution. The resolution refers to how fine the image will appear.
Understanding Which Materials Can Be Laser Cut
The gap the laser creates when it cuts through a material the kerf. All cutting machines have a kerf. For instance, a saw typically has a kerf, or cut width, of 2.5mm. The kerf of a laser cutter is related to the maximum thickness of the material that can be cut. Most smaller-scale laser cutters can only cut material up to about a quarter of an inch.
Find A Company for All Your Laser Cutting Needs!
Companies use laser cutters because they are quick and convenient. They allow for precise, practical work that helps save time and money while creating a high-quality product. Find yourself a company that can help bring your ideas to life with designers and engineers that understand the ins and outs of laser cutting technology.
Partner With Custom Technologies
Custom Technologies is an incredibly efficient and reliable turnkey manufacturer, and our team is ready to help you make your dreams a reality. We utilize a Boss Laser that can cut, etch, and engrave flat or cylindrical items in materials like glass, stone, wood, acrylics/plastics, leather, and foam. If you or someone you know is interested in finding a turnkey manufacturer for all your laser cutting needs, contact Custom Technologies today by visiting our website or giving us a call at (573) 756-1433.