Artists and makers of all kinds can use a laser cutter to create three-dimensional projects as well as etching a design or lettering into the surface of an object. A laser is a powerful and efficient tool for cutting or etching metal, wood, stone, glass, bbo crystal and many other materials. Read on to learn more about how laser cutters work and what they can do.
How Laser Cutters Work
A laser is a highly focused beam of light. The heat of a laser beam is so intense that it doesn’t just burn the material it touches but rather vaporizes it. Mirrors reflect and intensify a stream of light inside the cutting head. A lens in the cutting head focuses that light and projects it in a very narrow beam onto the material to be cut. Laser cutting software controls the movement of the cutting head over the material according to a programmed design. Laser cutters vary in size and cutting power, so buyers need to make sure they’re getting the right tool for their needs. See this boss laser review for more info.
How to Create A Design?
Before cutting or etching, users have to design their project using some type of design software. Some of the most popular applications for creating 2D designs are AutoCad, Inkscape, Sketchup, and Adobe Illustrator. For 3D projects, Solidworks and Autodesk Inventor are two popular options. Note that designs for laser cutters need to be formatted as .svg files. Many graphics programs allow users to export projects to this file type.
Types of Materials to Cut
Laser cutters are powerful and precise, and they work well on a range of materials from very hard to relatively soft ones. For example, they can cut or etch steel, a very hard metal, and aluminium, a much softer metal. Lasers can also cut or etch wood, glass, leather, many plastics, cardboard, and even paper. There are a few materials, however, that are either too difficult or too dangerous to cut. PVC, for example, produces dangerous fumes when heated, while polystyrene and polypropylene foam are likely to catch fire under a laser beam.
Tips for Best Results
Laser cutters also come with instructions for use, and most sellers are willing to provide tech support as well. The following are a few tips for success from experienced users.
- Always read the safety precautions before attempting to operate a laser cutter. Be sure not to look directly at the laser beam, and keep a fire extinguisher nearby whenever the machine is in use.
- Use masking tape on the edges of the cut or engraving. A laser is so hot that it creates smoke as it vaporizes the surface that it cuts. This smoke can stain the surrounding material if it isn’t covered.
- Test first. Experienced users say that they always run a test cut on a spare piece of the material they’re working with. Sometimes they discover that the material is more resistant than they expected, and they need to adjust the power or depth of the cut.
With a little practice, it’s easy to create great-looking 2D and 3D designs with a high-quality laser cutter. When choosing a machine, consider size, quality, power, and speed. There are quite a few affordable laser cutters that are ideal for personal use.