Carbon dioxide laser devices were among the earliest examples of practical lasers ever developed, yet they’re now at the forefront of modern acrylic laser cutting machines. In spite of their age, they’re still stronger than any other continuous wave laser currently on the market. Focusing light through carbon dioxide produces a 9.4-10.6μm beam of infrared energy that slices through acrylic sheets like a hot knife.
This gives engineers the power to cut out elaborate geometric shapes from a single piece of plastic. Computer scientists have developed sophisticated mathematical algorithms that use numbers to represent shapes. These algorithms are fed to the cutting laser, which then shapes the plastic to match the matrix found in the source code. A graphic designer could, for instance, draw a logo on a computer screen then have it cut out of plastic on the same day.