The first laser was built by Hughes Research Laboratories’ Theodore H. Maiman in 1960.
The first successfully fired coherent light laser, Maiman’s was a solid-state pulsed laser. Since then, a tremendous volume of innovations have followed, including the 1967 invention of the first laser designed for industrial laser processing. That laser, designed and built by Peter Houldcroft, was an oxygen gas-assisted CO2 laser that successfully cut a 1mm thick sheet of steel.
Today, despite there being a wide range of laser types performing a wide range of industrial processes, there remains a number of common misconceptions, particularly about laser cutting.
Common Laser Cutting Misconceptions
One of the most common misconceptions about laser cutting technology is that laser cutters are volume limited. Many people believe, mistakenly, that laser cutting is good for one-off prototypes but not full-scale production runs.
The fact is that advances in laser processing technology have made laser processes such as laser cutting very expedient and that most manufacturers equipped with them use the tools for full-scale production. This is true for 2- and 3-axis gantry type lasers, as well as for galvanometer-type lasers, which use mirrors to direct the laser beam and are generally faster in a small area.
Another common misconception is that laser cutting machines are an unnecessary workplace danger. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Laser manufacturers design their systems from the ground up with safety as their primary concern. When the systems are installed properly, laser cutting is so safe that they are often an even safer option than comparable tool-based systems.
Lasers have been used for material cutting and other industrial processes successfully for over 40 years and have proven themselves over that time. Aside from being both efficient and safe, they can also be simpler to use — they don’t require the complex tools and dies that traditional methods do and because they are non-contact there is no tool wear to impact the cut quality.
Benefits of Laser Cutting
Laser cutting, as with all industrial laser processes, provides a tremendous number of benefits. They are safe, efficient, fast, and scalable to full-scale production — but these benefits only scratch the surface of what laser cutting can offer your next project.
Exclusively CNC controlled, laser cutting systems can create cuts with unparalleled precision, including very narrow widths, and hold the tightest tolerances. Setup is quick, and the cuts are reliable and easily repeatable. Laser cutting systems are also capable of cutting shapes with very complex geometries, past the capabilities of other machining methods.
Despite the power they create — industrial lasers generally operate in the 10 to 3000 W range — laser cutting systems produce relatively low heat levels, which minimizes material warping, and requires less input energy than standard machinery.
With no contact between the workpiece and the cutting apparatus, laser cutting systems eliminate the risk of material contamination. When considering that laser cutting can be used for a huge variety of materials — including a range of plastics and metals, rubbers, wood, ceramic, and more — this becomes very important.
Laser Cutting with Laserage
Laserage Technology Corporation, a globally recognized laser processing leader, maintains modern, state-of-the-art laser processing facilities, carrying ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 certifications, in both Waukegan, IL, and Milpitas, CA. We use a number of laser processing systems, including custom-designed CO2, ND:YAG, fiber, disk, and Femto laser systems.
To learn more about Laserage, our laser cutting capabilities, and how you can get the most out of our services, download our free eBook, “Design for Manufacturability: Maximizing the Advantages of Laser Cutting,” today.