Laser cutting is a technique for cutting materials by using a high-powered laser to burn away material. This could be technique could be used for a variety uses like adding decorations to a piece or simple trimming some material off a subject. Originally an industrial technique used on metal sheets and piping mostly, this process has been simplified to enable people of many backgrounds and occupations to get creative with many natural, hard, and soft materials.
While most of the time today the process is automated by computer-aided design (CAD) software, professional laser wood cutting requires not only plenty of experience but also some experimentation to figure out what materials work the best in your particular set up. It also does not hurt to have some familiarity with your materials and some technical knowledge about the process of laser cutting. If you are just getting started do not fret, some skills will come over time.
Working with wood allows you to do more than just cut. If you were to increase your beams focus and power and moving somewhat slowly you can make extremely precise cuts in your wood. However if you lower your beams focus and power and move a bit faster your can “etch” or shade your wood with burn marks to add some depth and really bring your designs to life.
Try to keep in mind that lightweight woods cut more easily than dense or moist woods. Lasers you could be using also vary by power, polarization, mode, and control. Cutting using a laser cutting technique requires a ton of careful attention to detail. Things like the feed speed or even the type of gas used to clear the laser’s path will affect the quality of the cut. It is also important to keep in mind that when going from a computer image of your product to reality and actually cutting your material some variance in your beam’s cutting dimensions; beam kerf, or width of the hole, might end up slightly bigger than drawn. These things could lead or contribute to solids being fractionally thinner than planned. Thin lines can disappear in the etch, and thin wood can wrap or break under the heat of the laser.
For more difficult or highly complex designs, many machines allow its users to use “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) software to create artistic and highly detailed objects in stunning detail. This software comes in varying degrees of difficulty to use. From extremely beginner and user friendly versions to extremely complex but more powerful and flexible software that could take months of experimenting with before you would be a expert.
Hopefully you can use some of these tips to help with your creations. Remember to be safe at all times when laser cutting any material but especially wood as the last thing you want is to start a fire and damage your machine or even put your life at risk.