The History of Laser Cutting: Its Origin And Application

The History of Laser Cutting: Its Origin And Application
Did you know that Lasers began as Masers? This is why the history of laser cutting is interesting, and it is full of trial and error, discoveries, and dismissals. This short document will take you through a historical journey about laser cutting.

From MASER to LASER – How The First Laser Was Invented

A physicist named Charles Townes who was working at the Bell Laboratories on the radar-assisted bombing system and microwaves generators during World War II: came about MASER through Einstein’s stimulated emission theory.
The theory shows how energy can be extracted from an evolution of a molecule or atom with the aim of creating a photon flux, which is made possible by the amplification of a magnetic wave. This is how Charles Townes fashioned the initial device known as MASER (Microwaves Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation). This technology was fairly useful since it did not have military or industrial applications. Only a few saw the importance of MASER, although it could not be manipulated like radar.
Later, Charles included his friend and brother-in-law Arthur Schawlow in his research, and they came up with a solution. They realized allowing the atom to go through a narrow cavity and placing mirrors at each end, the rays would shuttle back and forth. The optical resonator amplified light, which was later improved by Gordon Gould. Gordon was a student at Columbia University. After making improvements, he is the one that called it Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (LASER).

The Development Of Laser Cutting

Kumar Patel A scientist working at Bell Labs established the earliest Carbon Dioxide (CO2) laser, back in 1963. This made it less costly and efficient compared to ruby laser. As such, it became a popular type of industrial laser, and it is the type that is currently used today. By the end of 1967, CO2 lasers with power exceeding 1,000 Watts became possible.

A Brief History Of Laser Cutting Industrial Uses

The industrial use of laser became popular back in 1965 when it was used as a drilling tool. In fact, the Western Engineering Research Center located in Buffalo, USA, was the first to use a laser as a cutting device. During that period, electrical wires connections were manufactured using diamond dies. Thousands of dies were needed for this type of operation. This made it costly and slow.
In 1967, the first gas-assisted laser cut was used. This meant CO2 laser cutting increased efficiency and gave room for a broader range of applications.
In 1969, laser technology was first used in industries (Boeing Factories). The first company to integrate laser cutting into its production is the American company, Boeing. Three employees wrote a paper on laser cutting hard materials that included ceramic, Hastelloy, and titanium, together with the help of the gas technique.
Ever since that time, laser technology proved to be an effective and economical tool for cutting. Although this is the case, a great deal of research and development continued. These opened doors to the laser technology we know today. It has made machining easy and efficient. Keep in mind that today, 3D laser cutting is possible.

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Natalie Mitchell