By Wenchao Liu
In anticipation of the laser cutter our Makerspace is going to purchase, I decided to write an introductory article about laser cutters. This article is about what laser cutters can or can’t do, when you should use one, and how you can get your hands on one in Appleton.
The first thing you should know about laser cutters is what they can or can’t do. They differ from 3D printers, because they generally can’t generate 3D shapes. However, as the name suggests, they can either cut through or engrave on a variety of materials, including plastics and glass.
When do you choose to use a laser cutter versus a 3D printer? We know that laser cutters can’t generate 3D shapes, but what if you want to create a piece of flat plastic chassis? You can theoretically use either one. That said, laser cutters generally have a bigger bed and takes a lot less time than 3D printers. You just need to buy the plastics yourself!
Where can you find laser cutters in Appleton while waiting for the one Angela promised to get us? There’s one in the Appleton Makerspace, whose website is https://appletonmakerspace.org, and one in the Fox Valley Technical College, whose website is https://www.fvtc.edu/employers/fab-labs. In addition, there are other services you can pay in Appleton.
Maybe we can only wait until Angela puts one in the library. The reason why it’s been taking so long is that laser cutters generate a lot of heat, so as a result they require special ventilation equipment. We are getting a Glowforge, but their ventilation equipment—Air Filter won’t be available until April 2019. We can only wait!