How Does a Laser Cutter Work? (Answered)

Whether for industrial-grade metal cutting or DIY projects, laser cutters are always part of the equation. Initially intended for factory-level production, laser cutters have come a long way since then. The nifty machines are now found in homes, schools, and even small workshops. Given the immense popularity, we are not surprised when asked how laser cutters work.

Laser cutting technology uses a unified laser beam to pierce through surfaces. A focused laser beam heats the surface so much that it either melts fully or vaporizes. The computer-guided laser beam follows a programmed path and cuts the material into pieces.

Continuously gaining popularity as one of the most precise fabrication tools for professionals and novices alike, a laser cutter machine has become a point of interest for many people. If you are one of them and came looking for how does a laser cutter works, you are in the right place.

An Introduction To Laser Cutters

An Introduction To Laser Cutters

The term most commonly known as the laser is actually an acronym. Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation or Laser is a breakthrough among many scientific inventions. Lasers are simply unified rays that can heat a surface. When focused on a singular point, lasers can cut through metals.

The machine used in the fabrication process is a CNC or Computer Numerical Controlled machine. A computer-mediated software handles the laser cutter. With proper design and instructions, a laser cutter can cut, modify and etch patterns or motifs on various materials.

Laser cutters are precise and quick. Human labor cannot produce accurate and swift results where a laser cutting machine has a rapid prototyping capability.

Different Types Of Laser Cutters

Different Types Of Laser Cutters

Two major kinds of laser cutters are widely used. These are carbon dioxide lasers and fiber lasers. A new type of laser named neodymium has also stepped into the business.

All of these lasers have their strengths and weaknesses. The difference in their power range makes them suitable for cutting distinctive material types and thicknesses.

Carbon Dioxide Lasers

Occupying the lion's share in the market, CO2 lasers are deemed the most common type of laser cutting machine. CO2 laser cutters are efficient, cheap, and require less power.

Lasers generated from electrical discharge from stimulated gaseous substances consisting of carbon dioxide are used in this type of laser cutter. It can cut and operate on a wide range of materials starting from wood, leather, glass, plastics, and acrylic.

Fiber Lasers

Originated from seed lasers and amplified with glass fibers, fiber lasers possess a smaller wavelength than CO2 lasers and have much higher power and intensity. Fiber lasers can fabricate, cut, and etch on thicker metals and surfaces.

Neodymium Lasers

Neodymium-treated crystals produce a specific type of intense laser. These lasers have a thinner wavelength and excellent penetration ability.

The lasers are used to cut through thicker and stiffer materials. However, due to heavy power usage, neodymium laser cutters have a high maintenance cost.

How Does a Laser Cutter Work?

How Do Laser Cutters Work?

Although different types of machines use different methods to utilize lasers and do the job, they all have a standard process of operation.

The principle is that the device emits a focused, intense laser beam that basically burns the surface of the substrate to etch it or penetrate it. A mechanical guidance system directs the laser beam according to a computer system to produce desired outcomes.

Here's a detailed breakdown of the laser cutting process:

Laser Generation and Amplification

A laser cutter machine has two main components. Laser resonator and cutting head. The laser resonator works as the originator and enhancer of the laser beam. The resonator produces intense light rays and sends them through a series of mirrors faced against each other. The beam reflects and gathers at a higher intensity.

Melting the Surface

In the cutting head, this beam is directed through a focusing lens and concentrated to a single point. A nozzle channels the focused beam onto the surface of the material. It melts or evaporates the substrate and penetrates deep.

Movement of the Laser Head

The precise movement of the laser beam is directed with an XY gantry. It is a mechanical system that allows the mounted cutting head to move freely in a 2D rectangular area.

The gantry enables the laser head to drive across the workpiece across the work bed. That is how the laser head can make such precise movements and cuts.

Guidance and Designing

A computer system guides the laser. The designer can make any design, pattern, text, or motif with the help of software.

The software then instructs the mechanical pieces to execute the same design or cut in the workpiece. By controlling the power and intensity of the laser, the substrate can be cut or etched accordingly.

Laser Cutter Software

A laser cutting machine is pretty much like an everyday printer. It is directed digitally to execute its job in an analog module.

The computer software generates digital data and transfers it to the machine in a way it can read. After being provided with instructions, the device then mechanically does its job.

A lot of designing software is used in laser cutters. Both 2D and 3D designing software are available for working with a laser cutter.

2D Software

For creating high-quality graphic designs and 2D sketches, the following software are used:

  • CorelDRAW
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • AutoCAD

3D Software

Modern-day laser cutters can work with 3D models as well. You will need 3D modeling software like the following to work with 3D designs.

  • Solidworks
  • AutoCAD Fusion
  • AutoCAD inventor


Laser cutters can process a versatile range of materials with excellent efficiency. Any other fabricator machine cannot still outmatch the accuracy and speed of laser cutters. You can be a professional artisan who makes living crafting or a novice craftsman crafting out of a hobby.

Head on over to Allwinmac to find the perfect laser cutter for your job. It's sure to ease your endeavors if you can utilize it correctly!

Consider the laser cutter a great investment if you are into crafting and fabricating. Operating a laser cutter requires you to have explicit knowledge of how laser cutters work. Hopefully, till now you have learned everything related to how does a laser cutter works.

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