Laser education: What's the best laser machine for schools
One of the most important things to consider when purchasing your laser machine is the size of the engraving/cutting bed. This is an important decison for schools as one needs to think about not just the work area itself but also the cost of materials. Large sheets of material are more difficult to store and also more expensive to purchase. Try to determine what will be the main projects of the students & then focus on a work area that will be suitable for this. Larger items can often still be made by assembling several laser cut sheets using finger joints or other means.
More powerful extraction is also required for larger work areas and this adds to the initial cost of the total machine package. Trotec's entry level laser engraver/cutter features a working area of 457mm x 305mm. This bed size is tailored to creative applications such as components for model making, textile design and prototyping. The honeycomb cutting grid enables the processing of a wide range of materials such as card, wood, acrylic, textiles and even some metals.
The Speedy range of laser engravers have a broad range of bed sizes. Starting with 610mm x 305mm and ranging up to 1016mm x 610mm, many of the Speedy series can also be customised with a range of different types of laser beds designed specifically for achieving the best possible processing results from different materials. Space in the classroom is often limited, so consideration should also be given to where the laser will be positioned, and how easy it will be for the installers to access the classroom considering the machines overall footprint. Our speedy range of machines are designed to be disassembled for delivery into areas that have limited access.
Adding laser cutting/engraving technology to your school is an excellent way to give students transferable skills that will benefit them both now and into the future. The aim of this blog is to help you to make the best purchase decisions when adding a laser cutter/engraver for schools to your classroom.
Laser source and power
The laser power is one of the most important things to decide on when considering which laser machine to buy.
When purchasing a laser cutter/engraver for schools, there are two main laser machine types to consider: a CO2 laser or a dual source flexx laser. A laser machine with a CO2 source is capable of cutting and engraving almost any material commonly used in education such as paper, woods, plastics, acrylics and much more, which is one of the key advantages of CO2 laser technology. However a dual source laser, features an additional fiber source which is ideal for marking blank metals and thus widening the possible types of applications the laser can be used for in a school. However, a fiber laser on its own without a CO2 source can be quite limiting in its applications and thus its use in schools is often very limited.
The amount of laser power determines the thickness of materials that can be cut. Typically, the thicker the material, the more laser power required to penetrate right through. In general, we recommend a minimum of 10 Watts for every 1mm of thickness for a satisfactory throughput.
As with the bed size, the laser source and the power required will depend on the subjects that will utilise the machine the most. Trotec's entry level laser is a CO2 machine available with 30 watts of laser power, while the Speedy series of laser engravers are available as a CO2 only, fiber only or as a dual source CO2 and fiber (flexx) machine with up to 120 watts of CO2 laser power and 50 watts of fiber power.
Another of the great advantages of engraving or cutting with a Trotec laser is the easy to use software. Both Trotec's entry level laser and the Speedy series of machines feature different yet intuitive software which performs just like a printer driver. This means that students can create their designs in many of the common graphic programs already used in schools, and then simply send their designs to the laser with just a few clicks. Trotec laser software also contains a built in materials database which means students can easily select their required material settings, enabling them to be completely involved in the process right from design to engraving and cutting the finished workpiece.
Easy to maintain
Machine maintenance is a critical part of laser technology in both industry and schools. Maintenance needs to be minimal and easy to perform, and this has been carefully factored into both Trotec's entry level laser and the Speedy series. Even the entry level laser has an in-built technology feature to protect important components from dust and debris during processing. The only on-going regular maintenance required by the user is to keep the focal lens clean.
Reducing maintenance to a minimum, the Speedy series of lasers feature InPack Technology. This feature ensures an ultra long lifetime for all of the important components by maximising dust protection and thus minimising the need for maintenance. As with the entry level laser, cleaning of the focal lens and mirrors is the only maintenance required.
Dust protection of the laser machines important components is the intelligent way to ensure that the machine does not require more extensive maintenance.
Safety will always be a primary concern when purchasing laser technology for a school. All of Trotec's laser machines suitable for schools are class 2 machines, which means the laser technology is perfectly safe to use for all staff and students alike.
Find out more about laser machine safety and how your students are protected in our safety blog.
Which laser is right for my school?
Both Trotec's entry level laser and the Speedy series of laser cutter/engravers are the perfect solution for bringing laser technology into schools. The most important factors to consider are how much laser power you require and the bed size of the machine. Whichever laser you choose to go with, your school will be able to reap all the benefits of having access to industry leading laser technology.