This is the content for Hive76's introduction class to laser cutting.
In this class we will cover the following:
Laser basicsOur laser cutter uses a 45W CO2 glass laser tube. The laser works by exciting CO2 atoms that release infrared light a.k.a. heat. These Infrared photons bounce back and forth inside the laser tube between two mirrors. Once they get to a specific power level, they exit through one mirror, travel through a series of mirrors, and are focused to a point. See the laser diagram on the right.
This laser energy is put to use by focusing all 45W of this infrared heat into a single point. This heat is used to vaporize your material as quickly as possible and exhaust fans are used to pull the material out of the environment. problems with laser cutting arise when the material absorbs this heat too slowly. Then the material will melt or burn instead of vaporizing.
Our laser cutter can cut and engrave on many materials using designs of almost any shape. Laser cutters are the most popular example of digital manufacturing. Digital manufacturing relies heavily on CAD tools, digital production files, and automation. If done properly, digital manufacturing lowers setup costs and shortens prototyping cycles. This makes rapid design iterations possible.
Because of the low setup cost, custom designs are easy. You CAD file can be drawn in a way to easily accept custom dimensions or decoration. The automation also allows very complex designs to be within reach of anyone. The laser can cut a straight line or complex curved line with little difference. If the robot is cutting it for you, then complexity is free! This allows for interesting structures like living hinges cut from plywood.