What is Laser cutting?
Laser cutting is a general term used to describe one of several types of lasers that cut a material by melting, burning or vaporizing it. The path of the laser is defined by a line or path based software program, typically Adobe Illustrator. The power and type of laser is determined based on the speed, accuracy required and type of material to be cut.
How to use laser cutting?
Designers need to understand how the laser cutter interprets the Illustrator file. Different intensities are often used based on different colours which provide different depths of cut or intensity of the laser. The path is also important as having multiple lines on top of each other (which will not be visible on a print job) will slow down the laser cutter and run the laser over the same path multiple times. It takes some time, experience and knowhow to efficiently design for laser cutting. In addition, different laser cutters have different input requirements, so it is often time wise to budget for design time.
When to use laser cutting?
Laser cutting is a very versatile way to produce intricately shaped objects and prototypes. It is also used extensively to personalize many objects including glass, Perspex, wood, plastic and many other materials. Laser cutting makes sense for small volume, custom or personalised jobs.
Alternatives to laser cutting?
Laser cutting has supplanted the much more traditional method of bespoke hand manufacture for prototypes. Other new alternatives include 3D printing for prototypes. On the personalisation side, pad printing and traditional engraving are options, but for a precise, repeatable, low cost solution for low to medium volumes, laser cutting or a variety of material, laser cutting has several advantages. It is simply a cut above the rest.