Laser cut copper is like regular copper, except it is processed using a laser rather than by other means. Copper’s mechanical properties mean laser cutting copper typically is hard to accomplish because of how the metal reacts to heat and light. The laser has to be turned up very high when cutting copper, so the edges usually are burned, though this rarely affects the quality or efficiency of the metal. An advantage to using laser cutting is that it is easier for workers to add designs to the copper. This copper usually is not used industrially because of how hard it is to make.
Copper has two special properties that make it difficult to cut with a laser. It is able to resist a high amount of heat and, because lasers function on heat, this thermal cutting method has a hard time piercing copper. The other property is how copper reflects light; lasers are made from light, so copper is able to resist the laser rather well. While these properties often are good for other purposes, they make laser cut copper difficult to produce.
Despite being able to resist heat and light, it is possible to cut through copper with a laser. When laser cut copper is made, the laser typically has to be turned up very high to overcome copper's natural resistance. As a result, the laser tends to burn the edges when it finally pierces the copper. This makes the edges a darker color, but this discoloration is only visual and rarely affects the metal’s use. It sometimes is used specifically because of this aesthetic, because some people like darker copper.
There is one large advantage to laser cut copper that can be difficult to replicate with hand-cut copper. With a laser-cutting program, workers can place a design in the computer and the laser will etch it into the copper. Doing this by hand often takes a lot of skill and training, though there is other machining equipment capable of adding designs to copper.
Its natural resistance to heat and light means copper has many industrial purposes. To make copper a viable option for industrial use, it should be easy to create so parts can be mass-produced. Laser cut copper is rarely used for anything industrial. It more commonly is used by small shops and for custom parts on request. Brass — an alloy of copper — is a more viable option, because it is much easier to cut with a laser.