Why Laser Cutting is the Best Education Tool You’ve Never Heard Of
The technology is underrated, but it’s applications in education are limitless.
When we think of a cutting-edge classroom, we tend to imagine robots and touchscreens rather than lasers and graphic design programs. It’s true: laser cutting is often overshadowed by other kinds of learning technology such as 3D printers and Arduinos.
Nevertheless, while laser cutting isn’t the most renowned classroom technology, it presents exciting potential for use in education. Laser cutting can provide learners complete freedom to design and implement their concepts in a way that is flexible, cost-effective and even environmentally friendly. Here’s why it’s the best education tool you’ve never heard of.
First, what is laser cutting?
Essentially, it’s a method of cutting a design onto a surface using an incredibly precise laser. This process was originally used in an industrial context and is becoming more popular with small businesses, schools, creatives and those with a general interest in tech.
How does it work?
A beam of high intensity light — the laser — shines down onto a surface, while a control mechanism precisely guides its motion. This beam of light works like a magnifying glass in the sun, creating a very small and very hot focal point. The system then navigates this point around in whatever direction you instructed it to (using various graphic design software). The process is highly accurate, the cut quality is almost flawless, and the heat-affect zone is very precise. This allows laser cutters to produce very intricate patterns and designs on a variety of surfaces.
Laser cutting is easy to master and the process is quick from start to finish. You create a design with a digital drawing program, send that design to the machine, and — Presto! — the laser cutter does the rest. One of the most appealing benefits of a laser cutter is its versatility. The technology can be used on almost any material; from wood and plastic to leather, paper and even steel. This means that laser cutting is cost-effective, and can also have environmentally-friendly application alternatives.
Laser Cutting in the Classroom
Laser cutting may have emerged from the industrial sector, but it has great applications for encouraging creativity in the classroom. Learners can have fun while they expand their ideas, improve their design skills and test their creations in the real world. These designs can be anything from text and pictures to decorations, tools, puzzles and more. Since laser cutting is so quick and flexible, learners can easily return to the drawing board to further develop their concepts and creative ideas. In this way, laser cutting provides learners with a tactile and exciting way to practice their technical skills, computer literacy and creative problem-solving.
Additionally, laser cutting can a be a brilliant way for curious minds to learn design and programming skills. The fact that laser cutters turn digital designs into physical reality makes them the perfect tools to teach STEAM concepts and spatial reasoning.
The Main Lesson
If there’s one thing that laser cutting teaches more than anything else, it’s that there are many ways to achieve the same solution. The versatility and iterative nature of the laser cutting process means that learners can tackle problems from many angles. Even when a project is challenging or doesn’t go as expected, students learn to adjust their designs to suit the situation. As they use these tools more, their competency and technical confidence grows which allows them to take on more complex concepts.
On top of that, students learn to merge ideas, extrapolate them and make connections where there may not be a clear solution in sight. In other words, they have to self-teach. This is a skill which is essential everywhere, from the classroom to the boardroom.
By showcasing the impact that laser cutters have on educational applications, we hope we convinced a couple of you to explore the world of laser cutting. If you still need some convincing, feel free to check out some epic laser cutting designs over at obrary.com, or learn more at golab.co.za.