A laser cutter is a prototyping and manufacturing tool used primarily by engineers, designers, and artists to cut and etch into flat pieces of material.
Laser cutters use a thin, focused laser beam to cut through materials to produce patterns and geometries specified by the designer. Apart from cutting, laser cutters can also raster or etch designs onto workpieces by heating up the surface of the workpiece, thus burning off the top layer of the material to change its appearance.
Laser cutters are very useful tools when it comes to prototyping and manufacturing and can be used in machine shops on an industrial scale or by hardware companies to create cheap, quick prototypes. As tools, they are used by makers and artists as DIY fabrication tools to bring their digital designs into the physical world.
The next chapters will explain what laser cutters are and how to use them to their full potential in bringing your designs and models to life.