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10.01 Introduction

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Laser cutting is a useful technique of digital fabrication. Once a design or image can be represented in a computer with vectors, then a machine can cut it out with a laser. Laser cutting machines can cut wood, plastic, metal and some stone. Laser cutting has a thinner kerf, the space left by a cutting device, than a CNC machine and therefore can cut smaller parts accurately and quickly. The weakness of a laser cutter is that it only works in 2D so there is not shaping, carving, or pocket cuts such as those possible on a CNC machine. We will use Fusion 360 to model simple laser cut assemblages, cut them on the laser cutter, and then put them together.

Learning Objectives

  1. Be able to explain the basic principles of laser cutting, and identify materials usable in laser cutting
  2. Recognize the strengths of laser cutting as well as its limitations
  3. Demonstrate proficiency in preparing designs for laser cutting using vector-based images in Fusion 360 software.
  4. Acquire hands-on experience in the operation of laser cutting machines
  5. Assemble and finish simple laser-cut projects

Key Terms

  • kerf
  • laser cutting
  • CNC
  • vector