Laser cutters have revolutionized manufacturing industries by offering unprecedented levels of speed, precision and creativity — and now they’re making their way to the education sector. From fashion classes to woodworking, laser machines can be introduced to a variety of courses, giving students new ways to express their ideas. Here’s a closer look at laser cutting in the education industry.
How to Use a Laser Cutting Machine
If you’ve never used a laser machine before, you might be wondering how it works. Most laser cutting machines come equipped with the following:
- A computer numerical controlled (CNC) router that helps it operate electronically
- A laser head that emits the laser
- An autofocus lens to determine where to begin the cut
- A rotary attachment (used for engraving)
A laser machine may use either a CO2 laser or a fiber laser. The former can work with a variety of nonmetallic materials (including plastic, wood and fabric), while the latter is reserved for metallic objects.
When used properly, laser power has the capacity to cut, etch and engrave a vast range of materials with extraordinary precision. Laser cutting machines are controlled through a computer, which makes them fairly easy to use. As an added bonus, this electronic system makes them highly customizable — users can calibrate the intensity and depth of a laser to their liking. Of course, you should always familiarize yourself with safety guidelines before operating a laser system. Only use compatible materials, keep the area around the machine clean and never leave it unsupervised.
Laser Engraving and Cutting in Class
Now that you understand how laser machines work, it’s time to examine the role of laser cutting in education. Lasers can be used by students and teachers alike to diversify curriculums, encourage creativity and develop critical thinking skills. Here are some courses that may benefit from laser cutting equipment.
Art and Design Classes
If anybody can reap the advantages of laser machines, it’s art students. Whether you’re taking a traditional art class or a more niche course (such as woodworking), a laser engraver or machine offers limitless possibilities when it comes to projects. Not only can a laser be applied to various materials, including glass, garments and wood, but it can also increase speed and quality. The standard laser cutting machine has an accuracy level of +/- 0.0005 inch, and it can achieve a cut width of less than 0.001 inch. Items you can create using a laser cutter include:
- Key chains
- Wall decor
Laser engraving machines may also be used to personalize projects, allowing students to mark their creations with unique graphics, phrases and signatures.
With a global value of $2.5 trillion, the fashion industry offers plenty of career opportunities. Introducing a laser machine to fashion courses lets students learn about production and manufacturing methods used by fashion experts, consequently preparing them to enter the real world. Laser machines may be used for a variety of applications, including:
- Cutting fabrics
- Decorating clothing and textiles
- Creating accessories (such as earrings or pendants)
Not only can students enhance their creative abilities by practicing with a laser machine, but they can also gain valuable insights about the fashion industry. For instance, using a laser cutting machine (or a laser engraving machine) demonstrates how the precision of a laser cut reduces material wastage and how the speed of the machine boosts productivity levels. Being able to relay this information can help students stand out at future job interviews.
A laser source can be used for more than design-based functions — many schools offer them in science and STEM courses. Believe it or not, laser systems have formed the basis of several important scientific discoveries, including:
- Calculating distances in space: The distance between the earth and the moon was determined by bouncing a laser beam off a mirror
- Optical tweezers: Lasers can be used to hold and even move microscopic materials, such as atoms
- Communications: Lasers are used to read bar codes, QR codes and CDs
Lasers are even being used for surgical and cosmetic procedures — over 10 million Americans have received laser eye treatment, while over 1 million laser hair removal procedures were conducted in 2016 alone.
Laser cutting machines are a great way for budding scientists to familiarize themselves with lasers. Gaining firsthand experience with laser technology can give students the knowledge they need to excel in science and technology in the future.
Using Laser Systems to Raise and Save Money
Even with all the advantages laser cutting machines bring to the classroom, it can be hard to justify the cost of paying for the machine. Fortunately, laser cutters offer plenty of ways to raise money and conserve costs.
Considering that schools raise over $1.5 billion yearly just by selling products, hosting a fundraiser is a great way to earn back the money spent on a laser cutter (and then some). A laser engraving machine can be used to personalize a variety of items with a school logo or phrase, from clothing items and wall hangings to key chains and coasters. You can sell these custom items year-round in a school store or advertise them at certain events, such as:
- Graduation parties
- School festivals
- Spirit week
- School auctions
- Donation dinners
While you can have items engraved by professional companies, having your own school laser cutter saves you shipping and labor fees. Moreover, by completing projects on-site, you can increase your speed and output.
Whether you want to honor pupils for impressive academic achievements or commend teachers for their dedication and commitment, hosting award ceremonies is a great way to motivate people. Unfortunately, school award ceremonies can be expensive — many schools end up printing out a flimsy certificate or getting awards engraved for a hefty fee. By completing laser engravings in-house, you can conserve costs and offer high-quality awards that accurately represent the achievements of students and faculty.
Laser machines also provide the opportunity to get creative with your awards. For example, Pennsylvania students at Cumberland Valley High School used laser cutters to create customized tiles to commemorate teachers who helped with a reconstruction project.
Running a school isn’t cheap — from learning materials to furniture, many schools struggle to accommodate all their needs without going over budget. Laser cutting machines offer the chance to make some of those supplies yourself, which prevents you from having to choose between two needs or purchasing low-quality items to save money. For example, laser cutters can be used to make teaching aids (such as reusable flashcards).
Laser cutters also offer the opportunity to create custom solutions for more unique needs. For example, students in Kansas used laser technology to create a Braille map of their school to assist a blind student.
Best Laser Cutter for Schools
From promoting creativity and building skills to raising funds and reducing production costs, there are plenty of benefits to investing in a school laser cutter. However, it’s important you pick the right machine to bring into the classroom. At Thunder Laser USA, we offer a variety of high-quality, functional laser engraving and cutting machines at an affordable rate. Here are some of the best laser cutters for educational settings:
- Nova 24 : With a 60-watt tube, this laser machine is best suited for beginner students interested in learning more about laser cutting.
- Nova 35: The Nova 35 is a laser engraving machine that’s perfect for imprinting custom logos, slogans and graphics onto school merchandise.
- Nova 51: If you want to build large projects, the Nova 51 is the best option for your school. It comes equipped with a work area of 51.2 x 35.4 inches and can fit a sheet of 4′ x 8′ material (with a pass-through).
- Mini 60: This compact machine is ideal for schools that don’t have much space available. Despite its small size, it’s capable of cutting, engraving and marking a wide variety of materials.
- Nova 63 : The Nova 63, which comes in 100- and 130-watt configurations, is a standard-sized laser cutting machine that’s great for any classroom.
- Odin 22: If you want to complete some speedy engraving for a school fundraiser, this machine is the one for you. It has an engraving speed of 2000 millimeters per second.
Each of these machines features an alarm lamp and exhaust system to reduce the risk of fire. We also have a dedicated US-based support and service team on standby to answer questions and help you set up your own school laser cutting machine.
Get Your Laser Cutter Today!
Nothing is more valuable than a high-quality education. Investing in a laser cutter gives your students and teachers an opportunity to expand their knowledge, develop new skills and give back to the school in creative ways. At Thunder Laser USA, we have an assortment of impressive laser cutting and engraving machines waiting to make a difference at your school. Contact us today to learn more!