Laser cutting is an advanced method of cutting a wide range of materials with utmost perfection, optimal accuracy, and high speed. It is preferred due to automation and guaranteed/identical results every time. It is an evolution that has made cutting materials a lot easier and faster than ever before.
In this article, we will explain what laser cutting is. If you are not familiar with the nitty-gritty of laser cutting, we will tell you everything you need to know from the working principle to its usage.
What is Laser Cutting and How Does It Work?
Laser cutting is a method of cutting material through powerful laser beams. These laser beams are produced from a laser source, and then directed towards the object with the help of mirrors and lenses. Finally, there is a confined spot where all the laser beams merge.
This tiny laser spot is extremely powerful and can increase the temperature of the object in no time. Once the beams get into contact with the material, heat is transferred, which increases the temperature of the object. The temperature reaches the boiling point of the material. Due to this abrupt and fast change, the material changes from solid to gas and evaporates from the surface.
When the material vaporizes, there is a cavity created on the surface of the object. The material is removed quickly. If the power of the laser is high, the laser can pass through the object and cut it into pieces. This is how laser cutting works.
Not all materials are vaporized, some are burnt, such as wood, and some are melted as well. It depends on the reaction of the material with the laser beams. But keep in mind that laser machines have a certain compatibility with the materials. There are different technologies and types of laser machines, and all of them are suitable for specific types of materials. Let’s understand more about the types of laser machines and the materials they can cut.
Types of Laser Cutting Machines
CO2 laser machines are ideal for cutting non-metals, such as wood, plywood, MDF, acrylic, rubber, leather, fabric, cardboard, and similar materials. These lasers have a CO2 laser tube that produces powerful laser beams having a wavelength of around 10,600nm. This wavelength is ideal for the materials we have listed because they can be absorbed easily by the materials.
These laser machines come in a wide variety of sizes. From small desktop laser machines to large industrial machines, you can find anything you like. It is a powerful laser machine that cuts compatible materials quickly and offers incredible results. However, it is a bit expensive and can cost over $3,000 for a desktop laser machine.
Diode lasers are the most affordable laser machines in the industry. These are simple, beginner-friendly, and long-lasting machines. These are also called Blue Lasers because they produce blue laser beams having a wavelength of 450nm. It is a good option for non-metals like wood, acrylic, rubber, leather, etc. You might think that CO2 lasers and diode lasers are the same in terms of material cutting, but CO2 lasers are more versatile and powerful. They can work with a wider range of materials.
Diode lasers are good for DIY, hobbyists, small businesses, craft, and professionals. It is an excellent investment that helps you enjoy laser cutting with incredible perfection. It is good for engraving as well as cutting. You can easily find these laser machines for $500 to $1,000.
Fiber lasers are the most expensive laser machines in the market because of their latest technology. These laser machines have fiber optics that produce a specific range of laser beams. The wavelength of the laser beams can be adjusted through the doping of the fiber optics.
These laser machines are available for a wide range of purposes. They are for cleaning metals, welding metals, laser engraving, laser cutting, etc. They are mostly used for processing metals; however, some machines can also process some non-metals.
The cost of these laser machines is astonishing. They can cost over $10,000, and the reason behind this is the technology. These are massively powerful machines used for large-scale businesses and industries.
How to Cut Designs Using a Laser Cutter
Cutting materials and designs using laser cutting is extremely easy. It does not require expertise or prior experience. With a few simple guidelines and trials, you can learn how to cut and engrave materials.
Step 1: The laser machine is connected to the computer. It could be through a USB cable or Wi-Fi. The software of the laser machine on the computer is your platform to communicate with the machine. You need to upload the design files here.
Step 2: You can design the files on your own. You can use any software like Adobe Illustrator. It is also possible to get the design from any free or premium site. Upload the design to the software.
Step 3: Place the object or material under the laser. Adjust the settings and focus and start cutting. Wait for the process to complete and then take out the material. You will have precisely cut pieces.
Benefits of Laser Cutting
Here are some common advantages and benefits that laser cutting offers. These benefits attract users and enthusiasts to the technology.
Laser cutting is highly accurate. These machines have powerful and precise motors that are controlled through software. You will not even see an error of 0.001 inches. The accuracy of these machines is incredible, which is why they are preferred for cutting purposes. You can cut identical pieces as many times as you like without any errors.
The laser beams are extremely powerful and they can cut material at a very fast pace. However, the speed depends on the optical power of the laser machine, technology, and various other specifications. Some machines cut at a speed of 250mm/s or even more.
You won’t get such accurate and fine results through any other method at this pace. You can even process multiple objects and batches at the same time. Laser technology saves you a lot of time.
The process of laser cutting is completely automated; there is minimal human involvement compared to cutting materials with a saw. The design or laser-cut file is uploaded to the software. After that, the machine cuts the material on its own. The user or operator only has to oversee the process and wait for its completion.
Laser machines can work on a wide range of materials. We have already discussed the types of laser machines and what they can cut. You can also do laser engraving using a laser machine by controlling power and speed.
So, if you have a CO2 laser, you can work on wood, plywood, leather, cardboard, and various other materials. It increases your ability to work on different materials and make different products.
The result of laser cutting is awesome. The cutting and edges are so fine that they do not need sanding or more finishing. There is minimal waste produced because of the small laser spot and the cutting technology. The laser vaporizes the material and makes clean and smooth cuts on the materials.
Makes Intricate Cutting Easier
Laser machines can cut intricate designs without any hassle. It is not possible by using a jigsaw or any other power tool. These machines can cut even small earrings from a piece of plywood. Just upload the design and cut whatever you like.
Is Laser Cutting a Profitable Business?
Yes, laser cutting is a profitable business. It is a great opportunity to start a small business from home, garage, or small store. You can get a desktop laser engraving and cutting machine and use it at your home without any worries.
If you own a laser machine, like xTool laser, there are massive possibilities and opportunities. You can start making your products from scratch. For instance, you can make wall art, signs, photo frames, wedding cards, jewelry organizers, boxes, toys, earrings, keychains, and tons of other things. You can cut your designs and make whatever you want. The sky’s the limit.
By using a laser machine, you can also engrave objects. You can personalize tumblers, glasses, wallets, keychains, wedding cards, photos, pens, and various other things. Personalized items are quite trending these days, and people love to have them.
You can also partner with various businesses and help them in making the products and items they need. For instance, a school might need water bottles for kids, so you can make personalized water bottles. It is possible to partner with schools, restaurants, companies, and local businesses.
Thus, the laser cutting and engraving business is undoubtedly profitable. If you can think out of the box and make some new items, it will be awesome. You can sell products on your website, social media pages, local stores, online marketplaces (Etsy), etc. It could be a hobby or part-time business initially and then you can scale it. It requires a minimal investment, which can easily be recovered.