How to Choose the Right Laser Cutter for Classroom | Ultimate Guide for Educators

 Jan 31, 2024  | Makeblock

Schools nationwide are facing the challenge of incorporating STEAM disciplines-science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics-into their teaching processes. This is a daunting task. However, for educators who are engaging in interactive and experiential learning, the introduction of laser cutter into the classroom can transform STEAM education into an engaging and accessible experience beyond traditional textbook learning. By using laser cutters and engravers, educators can make lessons more dynamic, and it's well understood when students link classroom concepts with real-world applications.

What is Laser Cutter?

laser cutter for students; laser cutter suitable in classroom

A laser cutter is a machine that uses a high-powered laser beam to cut or engrave materials such as wood, plastic, metal, or glass with precision and speed. There are different types of laser cutters, including CO2, fiber, and diode lasers, each with varying power, speed, and material compatibility. CO2 lasers are commonly used for cutting non-metal materials like wood, acrylic, and leather, while fiber lasers are known for their high precision and speed, making them suitable for cutting metals. Diode lasers, on the other hand, are often used for lighter-duty tasks and can cut materials like wood, dark acrylic, cardboard, and paper.

Laser cutting is a digital manufacturing technology that operates on 2D vector files, allowing for the creation of complex shapes and designs with a high degree of accuracy. It is a contactless cutting method, which means it does not physically touch the material, reducing the risk of material distortion and contamination. At first, laser cutter is commonly used in manufacturing and prototyping. However, days have gone by when it is only used in large-scale industries with advanced technology, some desktop or portable laser cutters have come into the school and become a hit toolkit for students.

Why We Should Incorporate Laser Cutters into the Classroom?

Just to adapt to the real world, our students should not just focus on the textbook, they should get connections with the real world. On a modest scale, integrating laser cutters into educational settings can significantly improve students' learning process and deepen students' grasp of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) principles. On a broader scale, it equips the nation with a workforce that is well-versed in practical, hands-on skills.

Here are some reasons why laser cutters can be a valuable addition to educational settings:
Hands-On Learning: Laser cutters provide students with a tangible way to apply theoretical knowledge to practical projects. This hands-on approach can lead to a better understanding of concepts and improve retention.
Engagement and Motivation: Engaging students in the creation of physical objects can increase their interest and motivation in learning. The process of designing, planning, and executing a project with a laser cutter can be a rewarding experience that keeps students excited about their work.
Innovation and Creativity: Laser cutters enable students to bring their ideas to life, fostering creativity and innovation. They can design and create unique projects that go beyond traditional classroom activities.
Multidisciplinary Integration: Laser cutters can be used across different subjects, integrating art, design, technology, and engineering. This interdisciplinary approach encourages students to see the connections between different areas of study.
Preparation for Future Careers: Exposure to advanced technology like laser cutters can prepare students for future careers in fields such as engineering, architecture, product design, and manufacturing.

Incorporating laser cutters into the classroom can transform learning into an interactive and engaging experience that not only educates students but also prepares them for the technologically advanced world they will enter after graduation.

Aspects to Evaluate When Selecting Laser Cutters for Education

If you have decided to get laser cutters to promote your school's STEAM education, chances are that hundreds and thousands of laser cutters will confuse you. So here we offer some key aspects we should consider when buying laser cutters:

1. Safety Features

For school use, the top and first factor when selecting laser cutters is their safety level. Educational organizations will naturally prioritize the well-being and safety of our pupils and employees. While buying the toolkit for our students, it is too careful to consider whether the machine is equipped with adequate safety features like enclosures, emergency stop buttons, and interlocks. According to Environmental Health and Safety(EH&S) regulations, it recommends buying a laser cutter/engraver that contains a “Class I Laser Product” label or classification on the equipment, in the brochure, or in the operating manual. Before buying a product, you can contact EH&S for assistance in determining product compliance.

2. Ease of Use

Instructors always find ways to inspire young minds to be more active and innovative in the school. It will be exciting if our students can use laser cutters to explore the wideness of creativity. Just imagine these settings: students can personalize their bags, bottles, and some other personal objects; they can design their customs for the sports events; and they can create some featured and one-of-a-kind artworks for the art festival.

So it will be crucial that that machine is easy to use. It will enhance students' zeal for hands-on learning. To be easy to use, there are some factors we should consider when purchasing laser cutters. An intuitive user interface and software make operations seamless and efficient. It offers countless conveniences for students to navigate the process. Also, it would be wise to consider the machine's maintenance needs, including cleaning, calibration and availability of technical support and spare parts.

3. Performance and Cutting Capabilities

When buying laser cutters for the school, it is also of great vitalness to consider the laser power and the cutting thickness and materials. The power of the laser source determines the machine's cutting speed and depth. Higher power allows for faster and more efficient cutting. The higher the wattage, the faster the machine can cut through or engrave materials. And also, with the extra power comes the ability to cut through thicker materials. Furthermore, cutting speed and acceleration directly influence productivity and throughput, so it is important to choose a machine with a suitable speed for school projects.

Additionally, the types of materials used in the cutting process need to be considered. Different machines are designed for specific materials and thicknesses. Ensure the machine can handle the needs our students plan to work with. CO2 laser machines are versatile and can cut or/and engrave a wide variety of materials, such as wood, plastic, fabric, glass and even some types of stone. While fiber lasers are ideal for metal cutting. Conversely, diode lasers are typically employed for less demanding tasks and are adept at cutting softer materials.

4. Precision and Accuracy

In the realm of laser cutting technology, beam quality is a critical factor that dictates the precision and cleanliness of cuts, particularly for designs with complex details. This attribute is vital for achieving the desired level of accuracy and finishing on the cut surfaces.

Additionally, positioning accuracy is paramount, as it ensures that the machine can execute cuts with the exactness required for applications where tolerances are stringent. This precision is not only important for a single cut but also for the entire production process, as repeatability guarantees that each cut is consistent with the previous one. This consistency is essential for upholding the quality of the final product across multiple runs, ensuring that the laser-cutting machine meets the high standards expected in various manufacturing and creative industries.

5. Service and Support

Schools should seek out reputable laser-cutting machine manufacturers known for their comprehensive service and support offerings. These offerings should encompass thorough training for educators on the safe and efficient operation of the equipment, along with continuous technical support to address any operational challenges promptly.

It's also important to consider manufacturers that provide extended warranty coverage and maintenance plans, which can alleviate concerns about unforeseen repair expenses and ensure that the equipment remains in optimal working condition.

Moreover, the availability of spare parts and the manufacturer's responsiveness in repairing or replacing components are crucial factors in minimizing any interruptions to the school's educational programs.

Our Suggested Laser Cutter for Educational Settings

Are you looking for a laser cutter that is safe, high-powered, and user-friendly? Look no further, as this one meets all those criteria.

Following a rigorous two-year development process, the advanced CO2 laser cutter, xTool P2 finally unveiled and came into the market in 2023. This cutting-edge device boasts remarkable features and a modern design, all aimed at promoting our STEAM education and helping students to be all-rounded talents.

xTool P2 is a unique and all-in-one CO2 laser cutter. It possesses some new features that are first introduced into a desktop laser machine. Let's dive into some exceptional features of this machine.

1. Incredible Safety Features

Safety features of xTool P2; all-around protection of xTool P2

xTool P2 laser cutter focuses on ensuring the safety of both the machine and its operators. The level of safety features incorporated into this device surpasses that of many competitors on the market.

It is fully enclosed, ensuring that the laser and any smoke generated remain contained, allowing students to operate it safely without any harm. The machine is fitted with a lid that includes a protective glass panel, enabling direct observation without causing harm to the eyes. Additionally, the lid is equipped with an automatic locking mechanism that prevents it from being opened while the machine is in operation.

For emergencies, an easily accessible emergency stop button is provided to instantly halt the machine's functions. P2 also includes an innovative exception warning system that alerts users to any operational issues, such as insufficient cooling water or overheating, ensuring that the machine is only used under optimal conditions and allowing for timely corrective actions.

Furthermore, P2 can be equipped with an advanced fire safety kit that autonomously detects flames, triggers an alarm, and extinguishes the fire, guaranteeing a secure working environment.

2. 55W Immense Power

Powerful 55W CO2 laser cutter

A standout characteristic of this machine is its massive optical power, which slices through materials such as black walnut and acrylic with ease, akin to a hot knife cutting through butter. It requires just only one pass to cut through 18mm of black walnut or 20mm of acrylic. This remarkable power enables the machine to cut and engrave at lightning-fast speeds, outperforming diode laser machines by a factor of 6-12 times. The top engraving speed achievable is an impressive 600 mm/s.

3. Automatic Passthrough

P2 boasts a suite of remarkable features, including the ability to accommodate very lengthy items, with automatic passthrough. Thanks to its innovative through-door design and feeding mechanisms, P2 can effortlessly handle materials extending up to 3 meters in length, facilitating the smooth processing of large-scale projects. In contrast to standard laser engravers, P2 is also equipped for surface treatment and can autonomously create 3D models of curved surfaces using its intelligent camera's point capture technology. Moreover, the machine's automatic focal length adjustment ensures flawless engraving results, regardless of the surface's unevenness.

The machine is compatible with an Automatic Conveyor Feeder, functioning similarly to a conveyor belt that feeds materials automatically for engraving. This feature allows for continuous engraving of materials up to 118 inches in a single pass.

4. Large Working Area

Thicker object engraving; large working area of xTool P2

It could be a bright spot that P2 has a significantly larger working area compared to typical desktop models. With a bed size of 26.7 inches by 14.1 inches and a processing area of 23.6 inches by 12.1 inches, it can accommodate engraving patterns up to 23.6 inches by 12.1 inches. The machine is designed to handle materials up to 2.7 inches in height. However, for engraving thicker items, the riser base can be utilized, which extends the maximum engraving height to 8.4 inches.

This adaptability in height adjustments allows for a diverse range of materials to be worked on, catering to various project requirements. The machine's adjustable dimensions not only expand your capabilities but also pave the way for new and innovative creations.

5. Extensive Material Compatibility

an array of materials

As we have said, this machine is an all-in-one laser cutter. It is compatible with almost all materials whether they are non-metal or metal.

Firstly, the machine is capable of processing a vast array of non-metallic materials, surpassing the limitations of diode lasers. Its 10,640nm wavelength is readily absorbed by the majority of non-metals such as leather, and acrylic in various colors, wood, stone, ceramics, paper, cardboard, rubber, and glass. This capability allows you to both cut and engrave a wide range of these materials using the laser machine.

Additionally, it can also handle metal materials, including coated metals, anodized alloys, and stainless steel. To achieve the best outcomes, it's recommended to apply a spray to the metal surface before engraving. The quality of the engraving on metals is outstanding.

6. Rich Educational Resources

xTool P2 in educational setting; laser cutter equipped with rich educational resources

As an ideal product in the classroom, xTool P2 is fitted with free software and Lightburn compatibility, which satisfies all your teaching needs from start to advance, from phone to laptop. We also offer educators an abundance of valuable resources through our professional lessons, diverse tutorials, and captivating projects. It is suitable for all educational settings, including but not limited to STEAM classes, Art&Design classes, Woodworking courses, and makerspace.

xTool P2 stands out as a groundbreaking and intelligent CO2 laser machine, offering distinctive capabilities that set it apart from other machines in its category. What's more, its user-friendly design ensures safety, making it a perfect fit for students. It would be a perfect choice for students in this technology-driven society.

laser cutting machine for art-design course

xTool P2 55W Desktop CO2 Laser Cutter for Schools