Mention the word “laser” and the first thought in most people’s minds would drift to James Bond movies or Star Wars. While both are great movies in their own right, they don’t exactly paint an accurate picture of real world lasers. In today’s world lasers are mainly used in industry. Manufacturing, fabrication, artworks and consumer goods all use lasers in the form of laser engravers and cutters.
Laser engravers use a high powered, focused beam of light to engrave or burn a design onto a material or medium. While handheld laser engravers do exist, the overwhelming majority of laser engravers are all assisted by computer software. While this does take the romance of tradition and handcraftsmanship, it produces a far more consistent and high precision product. And, thanks to better technology and cheaper cost of goods, laser engravers have never been more affordable.
There is literally a laser engraver for any level of interest, budget and industry. There are laser engravers the size of hatchbacks that can cost upwards of $10,000. These machines are high powered devices whose main purpose is to either work on large pieces of material or pump out a high volume of products.
For the SMB (small-medium business) space, there are machines that fall in the $1000-$5000 range. These devices still hold a lot of power and therefore have a very high degree of accuracy. The form factor of the device is smaller and can fit atop a fairly large desk.
Finally, there are at-home models, that enthusiasts and dabblers can purchase. Some of these models are no larger than a toaster and can cost less than $100. Thanks to more efficient instruments and cheaper hardware, entry level laser engravers can be had by almost anyone. These models, obviously do not compare in terms of quality or precision than their larger and more expensive cousins. However, the quality and precision that it does possess is far superior to those that can be generated by the majority of handheld engravers.
Modern laser engravers can be used on a variety of materials and mediums. Wood is an obvious material for engraving. It is fairly cost effective and it produces some interesting effects since lasers superheats the wood and burns them to a certain degree. But, laser engravers are not limited to wood. Precious and non-precious metals, glass, stone and leather, are just to name a few of the materials that a laser engraver can be used on.
Using a laser engraver on these mediums can yield some interesting products. Personalize leather belts and wallets, create your own custom wooden iPhone cases or capture memories on metal, the options and limits are only set by the extent of your imagination. There are dozens of different uses and designs that can be generated and engraved on various materials using a laser.
Lasers are no longer reserved for Bond villains and large, well-funded companies. These days all you need is a little desk space, a bit of money and a computer to produce some truly remarkable and finely crafted works of art or products.