All About How a Laser Cutter and Engraver Works

Using a laser cutter and engraver is becoming a popular practice, but most consumers and end-users are oblivious to it. So what makes it a common and important practice?

Why should you know more about laser cutting, marking, and engraving? How does it work?

Keep reading to find out all that and more!

Who Uses a Laser Cutter and Engraver?

You can find a laser cutter and engraver or marker in the medical, scientific research, funeral home, and trophy industries. Even in the foundry industry for automobiles, aerospace, and municipal forged pieces.

Why is a laser engraver or a laser cutter in so many industries? It’s because it allows for the use of durable lettering, pictograph, barcode, and DataMatrix laser marking.

Identifying and tracing parts is an essential step in every industry, now that databases can hold the vastness of this information. If ever there are problems with a piece, it can be traced back to manufacturing and investigated.

Many government organizations have even made traceability a standard practice and a necessary requirement. The FAA rules, for example, prohibit the mixing of parts from different lots. But without marking, how would one know which lot is which?

How Does Laser Cutting, Marking, and Engraving Work? Frequency and Amplitude

Whether you’re using an infrared CO2 laser or fiber laser, or ultraviolet range Nd:YAG laser, you won’t see the actual laser. It’s outside of the visible light range of the electromagnetic spectrum.

What is the electromagnetic spectrum? The way electromagnetic radiation works is through the use of mass-less particles called photons.

They travel in a pattern that looks like a wave, but they can be directed in a tight, coherent beam that we call a laser. Because photons travel in a waveform, the distance from peak-to-peak we call a wavelength. As the wavelength shortens in distance, the frequency in a given period of time increases (measured in Hertz (Hz)).

For example, the radiowaves that your phone, WiFi, TV, and Radios use are between 3MHz and 300GHz. This means it peaks 3,000,000 to 300,000,000,000 times per second.

The “height” of the wave we call amplitude, and the number of peaks per second are frequency. Lasers direct all the energy of photons at a given frequency range onto one spot. Higher amplitude (higher energy) for a longer time will heat up the spot.

When metal heats, it oxidizes faster — this is marking. The heat only reaches a few micrometers in depth.

As it starts to get more energy and heat up more, it begins to melt a little. As it continues to melt, it vaporizes. This is engraving.

As the power and duration increase, the heat keeps going deeper. While some of it vaporizes off, not all of it can escape this way. A pressurized noble gas, usually argon, is shot out as a jet and pushes the molten metal away.

Finally, we’re cutting metal.

That’s How Laser Cutting and Engraving Works

Using a laser cutter and engraver can enrich your manufacturing processes and make you compliant with regulations. There’s a lot of science behind how lasers and other electromagnetic radiation works. Now, though, no matter if they’re talking about 5G technology, lasers, or nuclear radiation, you have what you need to understand it.

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