Laser Cutter Machines: A Complete Guide

laser cutter machine

As it’s most people’s knowledge, nowadays, technology and all of its processes, techniques, tasks, which involve both people and machines, have evolved plenty, favoring the most different types of professionals, markets, countries. It also has favored the academic and artistic fields, evolving the processes of creativity and design. One example of technology and everything it involves is laser cutter machines. 

Many fields of work among industries, factories, and companies use laser cutter machines as a great resource and asset for their work and to get better results for their final projects. They combine the actions of the machines to a few commands and codes that are linked to a computer program. That is all because laser machines are automated.

Even though big workplaces such as those mentioned before probably use laser cutter machines and more advanced types of technology, you can see schools, hobbyists, and small businesses using such machines. Their relative affordability, finishing touches, and usability to several types of materials, come in handy, making the job easier and more practical.

Laser cutter machine cutting through metal.

Are you discovering laser cutter machines

Suppose you didn’t already know about laser machines, laser beams, or high-technology machines, how they work and how much they cost.

In that case, we are here to tell you that, opposed to what many people think, they can be a very affordable option in the market that comes with many advantages.

The best thing about these high technology machines is that they are used as cutters, markers, and engravers, amplifying the number of professionals who choose them. They are built to work on specific surfaces like metal, aluminum, wood, plastic, acrylic, foam, leather, cardboard, textiles, and even paper. Those materials make the machines’ usability even bigger.

People can use laser cutter machines to cut objects, prototypes, and detail the surface by changing the machine’s settings to etch or engrave. The final product is always very beautiful and professional.

Laser cutter machines are a bit popular around commercial places, factories, and industries. Many people, among professionals, hobbyists, and learners, know about these machines and their purpose. However, after a brief introduction, you might still find yourself wondering what these laser cutter machines are, how they work and how you can identify workpieces that were made by them.

Here in this article, we will explain many things related to this subject, such as what laser cutter machines are, what you can do with them, and where they’re present in our everyday lives. We got your back!  

What is a laser cutter machine?

Laser cutter machine
Laser cutting machine technology cutting through metal.

First of all, let’s start with the simplest part. As the name suggests, laser cutter machines are non-contact tools that emit laser beams that can cut into materials like steel, plastic, wood, glass, paper, metal, plastic, gemstones, and many more.

Laser cutters can create patterns and specific designs and cut through whatever material you use in a very precise manner with a pre-programmed project or design, making the edges and surface have a high-quality finish. They require a change in their settings if you need your machine for different purposes than cutting. If you want to engrave, detail, or etch your material and change its settings correctly, the final product also comes with your imagination, making the possibilities endless.  

Through either the cutting, etching, or engraving processes, the laser cutter machine emits a laser beam, which will burn, melt or vaporize the edges of the material that is being cut. That is the process that leaves a special finishing and professional touch. 

They are high technology automatized and motorized machines and, therefore, do not require someone to direct each action of the laser beams or what to do next. The only thing they need is a specific configuration and programming.

How does a laser cutter work?

The laser cutter machines’ configurations happen with CNC, which is also known as Computer Numeric Control. Every machine that is automated, and is not controlled by a manual operator directly, probably has CNC among their settings. Computer Numeric Control controls the intensity and directs the high power laser beam exactly where it needs to be, making the final result very precise. 

CNC is a motorized tool, and what people use to program such machines is CAD (computer-aided design) or CAM (computer-aided manufacturing). CAD and CAM are both computer softwares created for this specific area of the market to help professionals and users create the best product and program laser cutter machines correctly.

A laser cutter machine requires a motion control system that uses CNC or G-Code (the most used CNC programming language), making the cutting through or onto the material much easier. People can also change the CNC settings to cut, etch or even engrave different designs onto materials such as wood, plastic, or metal.

What do you need to pay attention to?

If you’re going to have a laser cutter in your own home or a workplace, you’ll need to make some space for the machine and give some thought to ventilation in the area.

Users need to pay attention to the cutting plate. Depending on the size of your desired material or final product, the cutting plate needs to be adapted and modified so the product can fit the plate and make the work as easier as possible. However, the size of the final product will decide whether you need a large laser cutter machine or a big one, determining the scale of the projects that will be made. 

The structure of all laser cutter machines is called chassi, just like a car’s structure. If everything fits, works nicely together, and the chassi is strong and aligned, the machine will not vibrate. That smooth and tidy operation is transformed into a clean-cut material.

How is a laser beam created?

First of all, the word laser means Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The light, as we know, is different than the light emitted by lasers. Laser lights are monochromatic and directional. They stay focused on one point even between long distances. Lasers concentrate light repeatedly until it emerges in a beam of light.

The laser is created by electrical discharges or a lamp that can trigger a lasing material inside a confined container. That process results in a high-power laser that needs to be reflected.

Plasma laser cnc industrial machine cutting iron and steel in metalwork workshop.

From inside that container, that reflection usually is amplified through a partial mirror. Two mirrors are usually on the inside of the container. When they reflect the light that is generated, the beams amplify, becoming much stronger and bigger.

Once it is amplified, the light is redirected by fiber-optics or other mirrors, through a transparent lens, to the desired material that will be cut, such as wood, plastic, and others mentioned a little earlier.

The exact point of the laser beam that is the narrowest will make the final cut through the desired material chosen by the person that is using a laser cutter machine.

The process of cutting, etching, or engraving the desired material happens through vaporization, burning, or melting by changing the machine’s settings.

What can you do with lasers?

We are aware that some people don’t know how laser cutters or other high technology machines work. To them, it might still be a mystery. Gladly, we can tell you that it isn’t a mystery.

Technology is evolving more and more every day, and with it, everything else evolves too. We can see many industries and fields of work enhancing and progressing on methods and ways of doing things that were out there for many years, but we can never stop evolving. Laser cutting machines are examples of that.

Nowadays, we can observe that laser cutter machines are being used for many purposes and in the most diverse areas. As we have said, even for personal use, we see them being managed and automatized by hobbyists, students, and learners. 

The CNC fiber laser cutting machine cutting the metal plate.

To contextualize and give you a few examples, like those mentioned before, here are a few fields that most people do not commonly know.

Medicine

Laser cutter machines can be seen in medical fields due to advances in technology and research in medicine, and because of the quality and reliability, laser cutters assure the professionals.

Designers and specialists often use these machines to create medical devices, implants, medical tools that can be very small and improve the everyday lives of medics. They are very low-maintenance, which helps with any solution regarding costs and also when it comes to fixing the machines’ parts, which are not expensive.

As far as we’ve told you here, you probably know that laser cutter machines leave the final product with seamless edges, turning the material smooth and with a very professional touch. Also, the medical field needs very small materials and devices, and for that to happen, the cutting process needs to be very precise and thin.

Besides what laser cutting machines can offer regarding implants, small devices, and machines, lasers can also be used on human skin and tissue during surgeries.

Lasers are thermo-based and very precise, even more than using scalpels. Therefore, any cut can be made rapidly, and that heat produced by the machine will not damage the surrounding areas. A very common field that uses laser surgery is ophthalmology, with its laser surgeries. 

Aerospace Industry

The aerospace industry manufactures flight vehicles, takes care of research, development, and support systems of those vehicles, and everything that’s needed to maintain the industry. 

The aerospace industry demands an amount of prototyping that laser cutter machines deliver effectively, faster, and with higher quality than any other kind of prototyping manufacturing out there. 

Aerospace vehicles need a durable and precise material due to the conditions they are often exposed to during the process. Besides being able to cut through several types of material, laser cutter machines can deliver the final product fast and minimize the waste as much as possible, controlling the production costs by also reducing the maintenance costs and decreasing the number of people that other machines might require to operate.

That makes them perfect for industries and fields that demand a high level of production and want a cost-effective tool at their disposal.

Automotive Industry

Like in the medical industry, automobiles nowadays require even smaller parts and on a larger scale compared to how they were made before.

The way they are designed today comes with many details to pay attention to, even when it comes to the complete identification, tracking, and security of the parts.

Every code that will be engraved in each part has to be extremely legible, which is a requirement in the automotive industry. Laser cutter machines perfectly engrave those codes and other contents, making them reliable, fast, delivering a high-quality finish, therefore being ideal and essential for any manufacturing company inside this field of work.

Because of the mass production of automobiles, laser cutter machines can come in handy for these professionals who need to deliver high-quality products and parts every day.

Besides the parts that need to be produced by the laser process, there’s also the need for a machine to manage and cut through different kinds of materials for automobiles with precision and velocity, melting the edges and leaving them super smooth. Those parts can include metal for 3D shapes, cloth and fabric for airbags, comfortable car seats, glass, industrial tapes.

Have laser cutter machines caught your attention by now?

Little by little, the laser cutting process is gaining space and attention, and eventually, it is becoming a necessity among growing companies. That growth is making lasers expand on a global scale.

The constant evolution of technology has minimized the initial equipment investment in the last years while also making them more potent. That progress is turning laser cutter machines into an excellent option if you are looking for a more technical alternative to improve your work and provide the best cost-benefit analysis. 

Whether your line of work is prototyping, cutting through metal, nickel, silicone, and countless other materials and surfaces, maybe what you’re looking for is a laser cutter machine. It’ll give you the best results you can get, making your work better, with only room for improvement.