The word "laser"is an acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation". A laser is a device that creates an intense beam of light by stimulated emission of photons from excited atoms or molecules. Lasers can be used for a wide variety of applications, like drilling and cutting, measurement, and in surgery. Lasers cut a variety of different materials as well.
Laser cutting is an incredibly precise method of cutting material from a variety of materials by using a design or CAD file. There are are a variety of different types of lasers used in our industry, CO2, Fiber, Nd-Yag, and others. Our in-house lasers are CO2 lasers. CO2 lasers are the original type of laser, and their applications are far reaching. CO2 lasers interact with items by either heating, melting, burning, or ablating (vaporizing) material. A vector file is used for laser cutting, where the laser head follows the path of a line in a design file.
With laser cutting, the laser head follows the path of a line, raster engraving the laser head scans left and right across the laser bed burning your design in one line at a time. It's almost akin to an old dot matrix printer, but with fire and lasers.
If your artwork is only comprised of lines, sometimes vector scoring is more efficient than raster engraving (which is a relatively slow process). Vector scoring is similar to vector cutting, but rather than cutting all the way through your material, the power is reduced so that the laser burns a line into the surface of the material.
3D Laser engraving is identical to raster engraving, but converts different values of black to laser power. Effectively, the darker the artwork, the more material will be removed. This allows you sculpt the surface of your material, creating beautiful bas relief style engravings.
Lasers are fantastic for putting a permanent mark on metals. Stainless steel works especially well, but we've also worked with regular steel, aluminum, brass, and other metals. Sometimes we use a metal marking solution on the surface of your material, which when combined with the heat from the laser turns the surface of your material jet black. This is great for IUID labels, stainless steel tumblers, and various other promotional products. It's important to note that metal marking and etching does not ablate (remove material) from the surface of metal.
We have two primary lasers in our main production facility (with more on the way). But, we have access to many more through our network of production partners.
1. Kern HSE
This is our primary laser cutter and laser engraver, and features a massive 50" x 100" bed, which is big enough to easily cut 4' x 8' sheet goods. The laser is rated at 497 watts at the laser tube, which is crazy powerful. It can cut just about any material, including steel, stainless, aluminum, wood, paper, plastics, and natural materials like cork.
2. Epilog Helix
This laser cutter is much smaller than the Kern, but excels on small products and rotary applications like laser-marking stainless steel tumblers (like Yeti, RTIC, or Ozark). It has a 50w tube and is very good for extremely detailed laser engraving.
This can be a bit tricky, and might require having someone with a graphic design background to help you out. No worries though, we can help you set up your artwork if you are a bit unsure how to do it. To learn more about setting up your artwork, visit our artwork setup page.artwork setup