Whilst the idea of a working laser dates back to 1900, the engineering and experiments started in the late 1940s and the first operational laser became reality in 1965. You can say that laser cutting started in the mid 60s and throughout the years, it advanced so much that it became the standard in processing and manufacturing industries. Thanks to this non-contact technology and computer-based programming systems of today, we have laser cutters that can be used in our homes.
The word laser is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation which in and of itself explains how a laser cutter works. In the case of the Darkly Labs laser cutter, the beam is sent through the machine’s beam path by a laser resonator. The high intensity light travels to the beam bender (mirror) and then goes through a focusing lens that reduces the large beam to a single pinpoint.
Founded in 2014, the Melbourne based company has taken a different approach in the manufacturing of laser cutter and engravers. In the case with the Emblaser series, Drakly Labs has used 3D printing to make the prototypes as well as most of the components which allowed them to make a cost-effective solution for low-volume production.
Auto manufacturers make the most use out of laser cutters, but they are also used to cut photovoltaic cells for solar panels and to drill holes in turbine blades. A laser cutter is also used to engrave keyboard letters, logos and text on smartphones. Metal is not the only material that’s being chopped – acrylic, paper, plywood cardboard, ceramic and textile are also being used.
From coasters, durable business cards and jewellery to things like wine buttlers, wooden signs, a parts box or even a fully sized desk. With a laser cutter the world is your oyster and if you combine it with a 3D printer, the possibilities are endless.
This laser cutter uses a solid state diode laser which performs the same as the 15-20 watt CO2 laser although it has a wavelength of 445-455nm that operates an average radiant power of 5 watts. The dimensions of this factory pre-focused Darkly Labs laser cutter are 540mm x 720mm x 200mm whilst it has a material capacity of 500mm x 300mm x 50mm. The Class I rated laser diode means that this device is extremely safe.
The most notable feature of the Emblaser 2 is the workspace camera and although it’s small (which allows you to monitor your work remotely) when combined with the device’s Wi-Fi capability, you can set it to work even more conveniently, without it having to be connected to a computer at all times.
As an extra safety feature, the Emblaser 2 Darkly Labs laser cutter has a laser enabling switch which is off the first time you turn the machine on. You can turn the laser on and off during use and it won’t operate when the lid is open. When using Darkly Labs’ own software, Light Burn with the Emblaser 2, the height/offset of the laser and source material are both set automatically. The Emblaser 2 has PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) which allows it to engrave subtle details without losing precision.
There is a built-in fume extraction/ filtration system and an air-assist system too. This laser cutter supports both vector and raster files like ai (Adobe Illustrator), png (Portable Network Graphics), pdf (Adobe Portable Document Format), svg (Scalable Vector Graphics), bmp (Bitmap), jpg/ jpeg (Joint Photographic Exports Group), gif (Graphics Interchange Format), dxf (Drawing Exchange Format), and tga (Truevision).
The Emblaser 2 can also cut through copy paper, felt, cotton, cardboard, acrylic, styrene, rubber, leather, corkboard, balsa wood, hardwood oak and more whilst it can engrave on all of these materials plus slate and anodized aluminium. The noise levels of the Emblaser 2 are between 60 and 65 dB with the air-assist running.
The air-assist feature is basically an air compressor that keeps the air clean at the point of cutting. This helps improve clarity and cutting accuracy so the laser stays on track and your projects come out on-point and sharp. MIA is another safety feature which stands for Material Ignition Alert and it is always monitoring for potential ignition. If the system detects that a material has been ignited, it places the machine in safety mode and sounds an alarm.
You can laser engrave a leather diary, make a mixed media portrait from plywood and create an intricate pattern cut from black card. You can also make other, more complicated projects with this Darkly Labs laser cutter, such as a cardboard lamp base from corrugated cardboard, a COGGO game prototype from plywood and even a 4 axis plywood robot arm.