How does a laser cutter work?

How does a laser cutter work - the basics

Ever wondered how lasers work? In the following video, the basics of laser processing along with all need-to-know laser knowledge is outlined. This includes operating principles and physical structure.

The term "Laser" and what it means.

LASER is an acronym, standing for "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation". In simple terms: Light particles (photons) excited with a current, emit energy in the form of light. This light is then bundled into a beam, thus creating the ‘laser beam’.

Technical structure of a laser

Laser technology consists of three components:

  1. An external pump source
  2. The active laser medium
  3. The resonator

The pump source guides external energy to the laser.

The active laser medium is located within the laser. Depending on the design, the medium can consist of either a gaseous mixture (CO2 laser), a crystal body (YAG laser) or glass fibers (fiber laser). When energy is fed to the laser medium through the pump, it emits energy in the form of radiation.

The active laser medium is located between two mirrors – the ‘resonator’. One is only a one-way mirror. The radiation of the active laser medium is amplified within the resonator. Simultaneously, only a certain radiation can exit the resonator through the one-way mirror. This is the laser radiation.

Properties of a laser beam: monochromatic and high coherence

Laser radiation has three fundamental properties:
  1. Monochromatic – the radiation consists of only one wavelength.
  2. High coherence and thereby phase coincidence.
  3. The waves of the laser are approximately parallel due to the coherence.
Due to these properties, the laser is highly sought-after today in modern material processing. The intensity is preserved for a long period of time due to the coherence, and can be bundled even further through lenses. The beam is directed onto the material’s surface, where it is absorbed, heating the material. This generation of heat means that the material can be removed or evaporated, making laser technology the obvious choice for your engraving, marking and cutting purposes.

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