Updated: Sep 12, 2020
Laser cutters use a laser beam for cutting materials, and are typically used for industrial manufacturing applications. Laser cutting works by directing the output of a high-power laser, at the material to be cut. The material melts (at the beam path), burns, vaporizes away, or is blown away by a jet of gas, leaving a high-quality surface finish edges. A CNC laser cutter uses a computer and cutting software that takes a design file and implements it on the material to be cut to produce the desired cut.
Laser fabrication supports the cutting of a pattern within a pattern. Here are some of the materials a laser cutter can cut: Plastics – Including acrylics, ABS, Lucite, Plexiglas, mylar, Kapton tape and styrene Wood – The laser cutter can cut designs into wood, including personalized pencils, wooden jewelry, wood picture frames, furniture and more. Foam – XPS foam, Depron foam, polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), Styrene, EVA. Other material – clothing, paper, rubber.
It allows a level of accuracy and complexity not possible if using conventional machining tools. The laser cutter is ideal for cutting flexible semi-rigid and soft materials. The laser cutter uses a high-density and powerful light energy running through its laser beam, which in turn burns the material. The laser beam is typically 0.2mm (0.008inches) in diameter at the cutting surface, with a power of 1000-2000 watts.
A laser cutter will produce any 2D shape, including shapes cutouts and inserts, using a CAD file. Its main advantages are high accuracy, good quality cuts, high processing speed, low deformation of the cut out material and ability to cut small holes and small material (as small as 1m in size). However, cutting thick foam sheets will result in much slower production time than cutting thin layers. In addition, each laser cutter has its own thickness of material it can cut. If the sheet to be cut is thicker than the laser cutter’s abilities, the cuts should be made by layers, and then can be glued together.
There are endless numbers of industries and markets using laser cutting to fabricate products: Prototyping, Furniture, Packaging, Cases & instruments inlays, Construction, Robotics, jewelry, ornaments, custom gifts, computer case parts, scale model parts, RC models, art pieces, custom signs, letters & logos and so many more.
CAD File is Needed
Anyone interested in a cutting project done by a laser cutter should gather their artwork and send it in a CAD file format to the cutting services company. They in turn will determine if it is compatible with the laser cutter and the material requested. Then a laser cutter configuration is needed, including adjusting the power and the speed so that the laser beam will cut thru-and-thru the material. The laser cutter connected to the computer will read the CAD file as coordinates and will cut according to the drawing.