If you enjoy some art hobbies and enjoy working with large machinery, then you might have heard about laser cutters. They are incredibly versatile and can be used to cut through many different kinds of metals and materials. Whether you need one for your business or want to enjoy cutting some materials fun, a laser cutter could be the right choice for you. Here are a few common questions about purchasing one to help you make the decision about whether or not it’s something you should invest in.
Are they dangerous?
Depending on the size of laser cutter, there are varying amounts of dangers and hazards that you could face when operating one. However, with the proper safety precautions, laser cutters are relatively safe. If you follow the instructions, keep up with maintenance, and don’t attempt to laser cut things that shouldn’t be laser cut, then you shouldn’t have any issues when operating it. You should keep in mind however that they can get very hot and incorrect use could lead to a fire. Some materials will also give out dangerous fumes so you should ensure you have proper ventilation when using one.
What can you cut?
You can cut almost anything that you want with a laser cutter. However, there are a few materials, primarily plastics, that you shouldn’t attempt to laser cut. Materials such as leather, PVC, polycarbonate, plastic bottles, Styrofoam, fiberglass and coated carbon fibre should never be used. A good rule of thumb is if you don’t think you should burn a material, then it shouldn’t be used. If you do attempt cutting these materials, you run the risk of releasing dangerous fumes and damaging your laser cutter due to the material melting and/or catching fire. When you are using your laser cutter on other materials, make sure to keep a good eye on it, just to make sure that nothing catches on fire.
How do they work?
To begin the laser cutting process, the laser cutter cuts a small hole through the material, then continues the hole using varying degrees of heat and intensities. There are many different types of laser cutting, each of them use different kinds of gases and methods to complete the laser cut. Each method of laser cutting will look similar, but they can be used on different materials and produce similar, yet slightly varying results.
What are the benefits of using one?
If you have a material that needs to be cut, then laser cutting, if it is a laser cut safe material, is probably your best option to getting a nice, clean and accurate cut. Since laser cutting doesn’t have any contact with the material that you need to cut, the cuts are much cleaner and you are capable of making more elaborate designs and cutting right through the material. The heat damage to the material surrounding the cut is also very minimal, but it is a factor, especially when dealing with more flammable materials. Most machines also have the option of producing laser etches. Laser etching (or laser engraving) generally will only scratch at the material and leave a change in colour and texture, rather than cutting a hole all the way through the materials.
As you can see, there are many different things to consider. Using one is surprisingly safe, as long as you take the proper precautions. Once you get one, make sure to read and follow the instructions very carefully. There are many more guides and videos on the internet that you can check out if you would like to learn more about the laser cutting process.