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What Is a 3D Laser Cut?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2016
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A three-dimensional (3D) laser cut is like a regular laser cut, except the laser is able to recognize all sides of a substrate and not just the substrate’s face. Unlike two-dimensional (2D) laser cutting, a 3D laser cut normally is able to work with a cube or other large substrate shape and not just a flat piece of material. The substrate itself can be many different types of materials, such as glass, crystal, metal and wood. Other cutting methods can only cut into the material’s surface, but the laser can be set to cut the inside of the material, which most commonly is used with crystal.

One aspect of a 3D laser cut is that the cutting machine is able to recognize all sides of the substrate. With a 2D laser cutter, the machine is only able to cut into and recognize the face of the material. The 3D method allows the cutter to go through and specifically cut and shape the substrate as needed by the uploaded design, which allows the machine to make much more complex shapes and projects.

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Two-dimensional laser cutters normally can only cut into a flat piece of material, but a 3D laser cut can be made into a thick piece of material such as a cube or sphere. Much like the ability to recognize all sides of the substrate, this enables the machine to make much more complex cuts when compared to a 2D machine. At the same time, there are some cheaper 3D laser cutters that lack this ability.

Many different materials can be used with a 3D laser cut machine, and each material has a different purpose. Wood can be formed into pieces for furniture or decorative elements, glass and crystal can be formed into shapes, and metal can be formed into parts or printed circuit boards (PCBs). This normally can be done by 2D laser cutters, too, because lasers tend to be versatile cutters.

A unique aspect of a 3D laser cut is the ability to go beyond the substrate’s surface. This enables the cutter to cut beneath the surface without leaving any scratches on the material’s surface. This usually is made in crystal and glass, and a 3D image is engraved in the center of the material. Wood also can be used for this; it sometimes is done and then the wood is split open to reveal the internal design, but this is not as common as crystal.

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