An Introduction to Laser Cutters for Hobbyists

Purchasing a hobby laser cutter can open up an entire world of new possibilities for home hobbyists and small business fabricators. The laser cutting process is able to produce clean lines, accurate cuts, and precision etchings of diverse materials. Anyone considering purchasing his or her first laser cutter may want to read on to find out a little bit about how they work and what they can do.

Appropriate Mediums and Materials

Most hobby lasers are designed to cut or etch wood, rubber, plastics, ceramics, certain grades of foam, leather, and other soft materials. Most hobby lasers are restricted to a depth of around 20 millimeters and a width of 1/5 of a millimeter. However, specialized laser cutters can produce even smaller precision features.

Hobbyist Applications

Hobby lasers allow home craftsmen and artists to easily fabricate products using specialized computer software. Anyone who creates custom earrings, puzzles, sculptures, or toys for small or medium-scale production can use laser cutters to more efficiently create these products. While hand-carving requires a good deal of time and specialized skill, laser cutters only require a basic knowledge of computers and the software required.

3-D Lasers

While ordinary hobby lasers may be effective at cutting and engraving flat surfaces, a 3-D laser will be required for any application that requires cuts in more than one dimension. 3-D lasers can usually cut glass, crystal, metals, woods, and other cubed materials. Some lasers can even be programmed to cut the inside of whatever material is chosen as well as its surface.

Size of Engraving Area

Even artists and craftsmen who require only 2-D cutting and carving capabilities need to take the time to understand what type of laser will best fit their unique applications. The most important consideration is choosing a machine that will have an adequate engraving area, as this factor will directly impact the size of models or products that can be created. Most hobbyists find that a laser cutter with a 14” by 15” engraving space is enough to meet their needs.

Optional Attachments

Rotary attachments are the most useful attachments for most home cutting and engraving uses. They allow the operator to cut or engrave their designs into cylindrical objects such as bottles and aluminum cylinders.