When lasers were first invented in the late 1950s, their applications were few and the technology was extremely expensive. Today, laser cutters and engravers make use of those same early innovations, but feature more technological advancements and have price points low enough that even small business owners and hobbyists can afford to take advantage of laser tech. Buying a first laser can be stressful, though. Before making a purchase, read on to find answers to some frequently asked questions about laser cutting basics to make a more informed decision.
How Deep Do Lasers Cut?
The depth of cuts made by laser cutters and engravers varies depending on three variables: the laser’s wattage, the type of material being worked, and its thickness. In most cases, CO2 lasers are the best option for hobbyists. Powerful CO2 lasers can make cuts up to ½” thick in organic materials like wood, but may not be able to cut as deep into metals.
Are Fiber Lasers Better Than CO2 Lasers?
Fiber lasers operate using different technologies than CO2 lasers, but they’re not always better. Most hobbyists prefer CO2 lasers because they are more versatile. They can cut almost anything other than reflective metal. However, fiber lasers are much faster, so they’re more commonly found on commercial assembly lines where speed is of the essence.
Are the Lasers Safe?
As long as users follow all the manufacturer’s safety instructions, using a laser cutter is a perfectly safe activity. It’s much safer than traditional methods for wood and metalworking. The laser is contained within a housing to prevent accidental contact, and there’s no need to use sharp, potentially dangerous hand tools when creating products or art using a laser cutter.
Is There a Danger of Radiation Poisoning?
There’s a common misconception that lasers emit dangerous radiation. In fact, the type of infrared radiation produced by CO2 lasers is the same type of energy used in many residential appliances, including microwaves. The technology has been around for decades and has undergone substantial safety testing, and there has been no indication that the type of radiation produced by laser cutters poses any dangers to machine operators or observers.
What Risks Are There to Using a Laser Cutter?
Reputable laser cutter manufacturers take every precaution to minimize risks to users. Early laser cutters generated dangerous fumes, particulates, and vapours that could be toxic, depending on the material being cut. However, today’s machines are equipped with fume exhaust and filtration systems to protect users.
How Accurate Are Laser Cutters?
One big advantage of using laser cutters instead of traditional methods for manipulating metal and other materials is that they offer a far greater rate of precision. Some lasers can cut to widths of less than 0.001″, with many models offering dimensional accuracy rates of around 0.0005″. This impressive accuracy can be helpful for those who plan to make small, interconnected parts. It also helps to cut down on material waste.
Find the Answers to Other Questions Online
Still have questions about laser cutter safety, efficiency, accuracy, or anything else involving this impressive technology? Hobbyists and business owners alike can find the answers they’re looking for online at Boss Laser.