Embarrassingly (or is it) I only realized via googles logo, that May 16th was the 48th birthday of the laser !
So, Here is a laser etched birthday candle, happy birthday laser…
Without the development of the laser for industrial cutting purposes Ponoko could not provide the ultimate consumer design liberation…
Now according to Wikipedia:
A laser is an electronic-optical device that emits coherent light radiation. The term “laser” is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. A typical laser emits light in a narrow, low-divergence monochromatic (single-coloured, if the laser is operating in the visible spectrum), beam with a well-defined wavelength. In this way, laser light is in contrast to a light source such as the incandescent light bulb, which emits light over a wide area and over a wide spectrum of wavelengths. In industry, lasers are used for cutting steel and other metals and for inscribing patterns (such as the letters on computer keyboards).
The first working laser was demonstrated on May 16, 1960 by Theodore Maiman at Hughes Research Laboratories.
Nice work Theo.
Here is some more history of the laser/maser:
In 1917 Albert Einstein, in his paper Zur Quantentheorie der Strahlung (On the Quantum Theory of Radiation), laid the foundation for the invention of the laser and its predecessor, the maser, in a ground-breaking rederivation of Max Planck’s law of radiation based on the concepts of probability coefficients (later to be termed ‘Einstein coefficients’) for the absorption, spontaneous, and stimulated emission.
In 1928, Rudolph W. Landenburg confirmed the existence of stimulated emission and negative absorption. In 1939, Valentin A. Fabrikant (USSR) predicted the use of stimulated emission to amplify “short” waves.
In 1947, Willis E. Lamb and R. C. Retherford found apparent stimulated emission in hydrogen spectra and made the first demonstration of stimulated emission.
In 1950, Alfred Kastler (Nobel Prize for Physics 1966) proposed the method of optical pumping, which was experimentally confirmed by Brossel, Kastler and Winter two years later.
The output required for laser cutting as used by Ponoko is 100-3000 W (peak output 1.5 kW) typicaly sealed CO2 lasers.
Laser cutting works by directing the output of a high power laser, by computer, at the material to be cut. The material then either melts, burns, vaporizes away, or is blown away by a jet of gas, leaving an edge with a high quality surface finish.
Lasers are also used in other rapid prototyping techniques such as ‘Selective Laser Sintering’, Let’s talk about that next..
Apparently The first fictional device similar to a military CO2 laser appears in the sci-fi novel The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells in 1898. As well as Alexey Tolstoy’s sci-fi novel The Hyperboloid of Engineer Garin (The Garin Death Ray) in 1927. But easily made most famous by the Star Wars trilogy, any other sequels and prequels are just pure commercialization of the Star Wars franchise…