Do you remember watching videos where a high-powered laser aesthetically cuts through hard materials? It does seem interestingly satisfying because of the laser-cutting perfection. Well, these machines are called Computer Numerical Control (CNC) laser cutters.
It generates a focused, high-intensity beam to engrave, mark, or cut certain materials into custom shapes. You can create unique and accurate designs or shapes with it.
The global laser-cutting market was valued at USD 6.8 billion in 2022. Moreover, the industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.5% by 2030. Given its popularity, you must understand how it works, its benefits, and its usability. This blog will discuss all those things.
How Do CNC Laser Tools Work?
A CNC laser engraving tool relies on computer instructions called G-codes to perform operations. It is a thermal-based process that involves a non-contact mechanism.
It has a laser-focusing lens and a nozzle. Through it, a high-intensity laser beam passes that can melt and cut material easily. Furthermore, a CNC laser will have compressed gas that cools the focusing lens. It can also remove the vaporized product from the material.
The focused laser beam with high heat density partially vaporizes one point of the materials. Then, CNC technology controls the pre-programmed movement to cut the material in a desired shape.
Do you want to learn more about a CNC machine? Technically, it is used as pre-programmed software for manufacturing processes. It dictates movement for tools and machines. You can control various complex machinery, grinders, lasers, routers, etc.
According to Lattice Materials, high-quality CNC machines can handle all machining techniques and reduce sub-surface chipping or damage.
What Are the Benefits of CNC Laser Machines?
CNC laser machines come in three forms, CO2, fiber, and crystal cutters. They have unique properties and differential capabilities, but the overall benefits remain the same:
- All of them can produce intricate designs and holes with perfect precision and accuracy due to their pre-programming.
- These machines can produce clean cuts that eliminate post-processing human touch or finishes.
- Manufacturers need not use several cutting tools like milling machines or CNC routers to customize materials as per the design requirement.
Furthermore, the no-contact feature of CNC laser cutting reduces the risk of distortion or material contamination.
What Are the Suitable Materials for CNC Laser Cutting?
CNC lasers are versatile and can cut through various materials. Some of the best engraving applications of CNC laser tools are:
- Granite and marble: You can use it for building plagues, beverage coasters, tiles, stepping stones, countertops, memorials, etc.
- Brick and stone: Patio paves, walking bricks, stone jewelry, memorial boulders, and slab markers are great ideas.
- Wood: Laser cutting through wood can create signages, home decor, hardwood floors, cabinet doors, and more.
- Acrylic and metal: You can make utensils, machine parts, plaques, and customized jewelry.
- Fabric and paper: Greeting cards, party masks, stencils, business cards, quilt designs, and engraved patterns are great examples.
Furthermore, CNC laser cuts leather to create engraved wallets, personalized jewelry, journals, horse saddles, and more. Items like paper, mylar, and coroplast are good to go.
What Materials Should You Not Cut Using a CNC Laser?
Even though CNC laser tools can cut through a variety of materials, there are certain things they should be kept away from. It is mainly because of the density of these materials and the dangerous fumes they might generate.
The materials you should not cut using CNC lasers are:
- Artificial leather, vinyl, or Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVCs): These materials can emit pure chlorine gas.
- Fiberglass and coated carbon fiber: Both of these materials emit noxious fumes harmful to humans.
- Polypropylene foam: These can catch fire and melt under a high-intensity beam that can continue to burn and drip to the ground.
- Plastic: When burnt, plastic emits a harmful fume and gets goey, making it difficult to clean when melted.
Overall, you should keep artificial elements away from CNC lasers, except for paper or cardboard.
Unique CNC Laser-Cut Design Ideas
Once you get your hand on such cutting tools, you might want to start unique projects. Some unorthodox design ideas are as follows:
- Clocks made into a honeycomb or moth design
- Coasters with monogrammed and geometric designs
- Botanical paper and shadow map designs for art
- Wooden jewelry designs like geometric earrings or winged necklaces
- Custom wedding invitations with different themes
The Bottom Line
A CNC laser is a useful tool when you want to create pre-programmed intricate designs from various materials. You can use wood, leather, granite, paper, fabric, and other items for laser cutting. However, you should stay away from artificial materials like plastic, PVCs, and foam.
Once you find the perfect material, you can create precise designs as mentioned in this blog. As a result, you will have customized and personalized products like jewelry, clocks, and more.
Also Read: What To Know About Laser Engraving