6 Ways Lasers Are Being Used in Manufacturing
Since the first laser was built in 1960, their applications have continuously widened over the years in various industries. An acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”, lasers are more commonly used in scanners, printers, optical drives, fiber-optics, laser surgery and treatments, light displays, cutting materials, and measuring tools.
Known for their efficiency and power, lasers are also now being used in the manufacturing industry. Here are just a few ways they are being utilized:
- Laser cutting. Among the first uses of the laser is for cutting materials and laser is still being widely used for this purpose. Until today, the core application of laser in the manufacturing industry is still for cutting. The developments in laser technology over the years have only made cutting faster and more efficient. Lasers are being used to cut various materials including metal, plastic, and composite materials.
- Laser welding. Aside from cutting, lasers are also being used for welding. Many are shifting from the traditional methods of welding into the faster and more efficient method of using lasers for welding. One advantage of laser welding is that it works even for joining different metals, heat-sensitive components, and even very small components.
- Laser marking. Many manufacturing companies keep track of the components or products they produce by marking them with a unique serial number or code. Lasers are often used to engrave these components with serial numbers, a QR code, or a logo to make tracking easier. This is particularly useful for the manufacture of medical devices and tools.
- Laser drilling. Regular drilling methods often have limitations when it comes to hole sizes. With lasers, manufacturing companies can drill precise holes as small as 0.0005 inches in diameter. Also, holes made by lasers are clean and uniform and it can be used for various materials such as metal, rubber, and different polymers.
- Laser micromachining. Ever wonder how very small tools and parts are manufactured to have smooth even surfaces? Lasers are used for that! They can be used exactly how you would use a machining equipment – for shaping, boring, smoothing, grinding, and cutting materials. The advantage with laser micromachining is that you can achieve ultra-smooth edges, making it the preferred method for small and delicate tools such as medical tools and components.
- Laser 3D printing. The advent of 3d printing has added another important role for lasers. The selective laser sintering (SLS) technology makes use of a laser as the power source to bind the material together and form a solid structure.