Laser engravers are amazing machines. They take the designs from the computer and and use light to transform ordinary objects and material into unique works of art. For this transformation to take place, the laser varies the strength, frequency (number of times the laser turns on and off per second) and speed of the optics. Due to the nature of the laser, color can not be created, only shading.
You can think of a laser engraver as the pencil of a digital artist; if the artist presses hard, a dark, wide line appears, if lite pressure is used, a faint line or shading can result. Images can also be produced by stippling, or making small dots, utilizing a pencil or a laser. In the end, the pencil can only produce two dimensional images. With a laser, materials can be deeply etched and cut which opens possibilities pencils can only dream of.
The extent of the marking and cutting depends on the material and the laser being used but typically, using a CO2 laser (the most common small format laser), you can etch and cut the following materials:
Etch – wood, acrylic, fabric, glass, ceramic, Delrin, leather, marble, matte board, Melamine, paper, Mylar, pressboard, rubber, wood veneer, fiberglass, painted metals, tile, plastic, cork, Corian, anodized aluminum, stainless steel, brass, titanium and bare metals (with a metal marking solution.
Cut – wood, acrylic, fabric, Delrin, leather, matte board, Melamine, paper, Mylar, pressboard, rubber, wood veneer, fiberglass, plastic, cork, and Corian
With these concepts and materials in mind, there are many options open to the digital artist. What can you think of that would be better off with the depth a laser can offer?