Laser Cutter Projects and Applications
Laser cutters are becoming more and more popular with both hobbyists and professional manufacturers. Perhaps you have seen them in STEM labs or at maker-spaces. Or maybe you have marveled at the precision of a laser cut product. If not, you may be wondering what all the excitement is about and what a laser cutter and engraver is capable of doing. In this article, we are going to take a look at some laser cutter projects and applications.
Laser cutters and engravers are very capable and versatile machines. That being said, there are many types of laser sources such as CO2, Fiber, UV, and Diode. This article will mainly focus on laser projects and applications for CO2 laser cutters and engravers, but will briefly mention other types.
Laser Cutter Projects: Cutting
Most people understand that something called a laser “cutter” will indeed, cut. That is to say, the laser slices all the way through the material.
But what can it cut? Well, this will depend on the type of source and its power output. Typically, low to mid wattage CO2 laser tubes can cut wood, fabric, paper, leather and other organic materials. They can also cut acrylic, however be careful with unknown plastics and PVC, as these can produce toxic fumes. Fiber lasers can cut through metal and alloys, as well. The uses for cutting are vast and can include cutting out patterns, parts and prototype pieces.
Most of the free laser cutter projects that we offer include cutting as a part of the process. The following examples are mostly laser cutter projects.
RE3 Exclusive #4: Born to Explore
This laser cutter project utilizes simple cutting and then stacking the cuts in layers to achieve the final product.
RE3 Exclusive #3: Spring Flower Planter
Cut out all the components required to assemble your own planter box for spring flowers. This laser cutter project utilizes laser cutting to create the the necessary components to assemble the planter
Laser Cutter Projects: Engraving
Engraving is different from cutting since the laser does not cut through the material, but instead removes surface points of the material to expose three dimensional cavities that create an image. The same materials that can be cut, can also be engraved. The depth of the engraving can be adjusted by running the laser through multiple passes or adjusting the power and speed settings.
Engraving is used to create a variety of amazing textures and images for crafts and novelty items, but engraving also has many useful practical applications. For example, firearms are required to display certain manufacturing information that won’t rub off or dissipate over time. This creates a permanent engraving that does not alter the precision of the tool.
Here are some free laser cutter projects that predominantly utilize engraving to achieve the final product.
RE3 Exclusive #1: Jeeping the Holidays
While laser cutting is involved in part of this project, laser engraving is necessary for the final results.
Free Project #95: Ouija Board
Laser engraving is featured prominently in this free laser cutter project.
Laser Cutter Projects: Marking
Marking is when the laser beam alters the properties of the surface of the material to slightly alter the appearance and create an image, such as a picture. This process does not disintegrate the material, like cutting and engraving does, but rather creates a chemical change in the material. The result creates a high-contrast “coloration” on the surface, without disrupting the material itself. For example, medical tools can be marked with valuable information without creating cavities where bacteria can collect.
UV Galvo Lasers excel at marking materials and can be used to mark pretty much anything. UV Lasers will add a great final touch to any laser cutter project.
Laser Cutter Projects: Etching
Metal, and certain other materials, have unique properties that allow laser etching. Etching is when the heat from the laser touching the surface of the material causes melting, which expands to create a raised mark. This typically is done to alter the surface of the metal to alter its reflectiveness and enhance contrast. This technique works on bare metal, anodized metal surfaces, polymers, and even clay. If this is your exclusive type of project, then a UV Galvo Laser would be the best option for you.
Free Project #91: Flower Wine Caddy
Have you laser etched some wine glasses that you’d like to display? This free laser cutter project will give you a great way to display them!
Learn and Grow
These laser cutter projects are just a small portion of the free projects offered by Full Spectrum Laser. Of course, a project is not limited to just one of these applications. They can be combined for a vast and diverse set of jobs. The more you work with your laser and create projects, the more you will learn and understand what it is capable of cutting and engraving.
…and the more you learn and understand your laser, the more you’ll be able to make.
Full Spectrum Laser is a leader in laser cutting and laser engraving systems. Our systems range in size from desktop units and high-volume machines through industrial-grade production equipment. Our machines are running all over the world: from grade schools to National Labs, garage startups and many Fortune 500 companies. Contact us today to learn more.