Laser cutters are used primarily by engineers and designers, however, artists and small business owners are now taking advantage of the unique designs that laser cutters produce. A laser cutter uses a thin, focused laser beam to cut through materials such as steel, plywood, leather, carbon fibers and more to create a unique pattern or geometries specified by the designer. Laser cutters can also etch designs into workpieces by heating the surface and burning the top layer of the material in order to change its appearance.
There are three main types of lasers that are used in laser cutters; CO2 lasers, fiber laser, and neodymium lasers. Each laser has a specific range of power and can be used to cut through a variety of different materials.
CO2 lasers are generated from electricity and are stimulated by gas mixtures- including carbon monoxide. CO2 lasers are the most common types of laser cutters and also the least expensive. The materials that are most commonly used for CO2 lasers are wood, paper-based products, leather, acrylic glass, foams, and plastics.
Fiber lasers are made from a “seed laser” and then are amplified by special glass fibers. They require less maintenance than neodymium lasers and are used primarily for laser marking processes. Materials most commonly used with a fiber laser are metals and plastics.
Neodymium lasers are formed from a neodymium-doped crystal. They have a higher intensity level and can cut through thicker, and stronger materials. Materials most commonly used are metals, plastics, and some ceramics.
When choosing which laser cutting machine will be best for the business or home, it is important to take into account a few considerations such as; where is the technical support based should a problem arise or replacement be needed? It is important to find a company that offers good support, is within the US if possible to prevent shipping delays and is reliable.
Be sure to choose the right machine size and that the laser power is enough to support it. It is better to get a larger machine with a weaker laser than to get a small machine with a laser that is much too powerful.
For more information on choosing a machine, read reviews of different brands such as BOSS lasers ratings and reviews. Knowing what successes or failures others have experienced with their laser machines is a sure way of narrowing down the search.