Can Lasers Cut Metal?

When comparing different laser cutters, people usually want to know what materials are compatible. A popular question is whether lasers can cut metal or if traditional cutting is required instead. Industrial lasers absolutely can cut and engrave metal. In fact, laser cutters and plasma cutters are commonly used for this purpose. Most lasers capable of cutting through even steel plates are high power capacity CO2 lasers. Metals such as stainless steel and aluminum can be cut with a laser when compressed gas technology is used.

Even though Digilab's LC40 is a CO2 laser, cutting metal is not one of the features of the laser. Instead, the 40-watt laser is best used on acrylic or wood projects. However, it is also compatible with other materials:

  • Leather
  • Paper
  • Glass
  • Stone
  • Rubber
  • Felt
  • Cotton
  • Denim
  • Plywood
  • Walnut
  • Oak
  • Maple

The laser cutter can cut, score, or engrave these materials; although, some wood may require two passes to cut clean through. The type of cut depends on the thickness of the material. You can ensure the right wood for laser cutting by purchasing it directly from the Digilab store.

The LC40 can work with anodized aluminum such as the aluminum used on some laptops. The Macbook, for example, can safely be engraved because the machine only needs to etch the coating and not the material itself. However, it's far from the only material that can be engraved with this laser cutter machine!

Versatility In the Perfect Size

Because the cutter is compatible with a variety of materials, the user can create entire projects with it. Projects created with the LC40 include sculptures, framed art, apparel and accessories, games, stationery, and home decor, among others. Even the surface of a skateboard can be customized with this machine. Architecture students have created models with laser cutters.

Organizations will also find that a laser cutter can engrave awards, signs, and gifts. As long as creators are willing to think outside of the box, the possibilities are near endless. In fact, packaging can be created and customized with the LC40. Even museums allow visitors as young as five to explore technology and creation with lasers cutters!

The versatility of laser cutters mean they not only bring woodworking into the modern age but that laser cutters can be used for textiles as well as art pieces. This makes a laser cutter a beneficial tool in educational settings. In addition to vinyl cutters, 3D printers (which Dremel also makes), saws, and power tools, a laser cutter completes the modern classroom. All of this in a package that sits neatly on the desktop.

Although the LC40 cannot cut metal, it was designed to be user-friendly. Both educators and students find the hardware and software easy to use, in part because of the on-unit touchscreen. Who wants to deal with connecting to the Internet or even another computer when the software can be built directly into the machine? Creativity strikes even when there's no Wi-Fi!

The built-in camera also enables users to scans their drawings into the software and perfectly line up their files with the material even if the material is irregularly shaped. New users can quickly learn how to use a laser cutter.

Not Just for Educators

Designers who require more advanced features will find them available with the Digilab LC40. Outside of education settings, hobbyists have found the Digilab LC40 enables them to experiment with their creativity and create functional products both their homes and businesses -- and to sell.

No matter who is using a laser cutter, safety is of utmost importance. That's precisely why it's not advised to try cutting metal with the LC40. But for other materials, the laser cutter remains safe thanks in part to smart sensors that detect unsafe operating conditions.

Whether you're a teacher looking to engrave students' nametags in different materials, or a tinkerer looking to invent something, see if Digilab's LC40 can meet your needs.