Laser Etches Gorgeous Art At Insane Speeds

Lasers are ubiquitous parts of most people’s lives, entering into everyday interactions and errands in ways that you might not expect. They are used in barcode scanners, printers, CD players, dentistry, tattoo removal, and of course those laser pointers whose main use is to drive cats crazy. Among lasers’ myriad uses, there’s one that is surprisingly lovely: As the following video shows, lasers etch beautiful art. Filmed at LasX Industries in Minnesota last December, the video shows a “specially designed laser art system” etching an intricate design into a large chalkboard.

The piece was designed by LasX employee Andy Gikling. He uploaded his design as a PDF file to the laser system, which then etched it onto the board. The image is structured around the Golden Spiral, and filled in with a series of complex geometric patterns, as well as a swirling, cloudy seascape. One of the most fascinating aspects of this video is that, as Gikling points out in the video’s comments, it was shot in real time, meaning that this multilayered, complicated piece of art went from a blank slate to a completed image in just over two and a half minutes. How crazy is that?

The finished piece is very cool, but the process of it coming together is even better. It’s hypnotizing to watch the image emerge, line by line, from a series of flashes. The process has two parts. Gikling explains in the video’s intro, “The first half of the video features Proton [the laser control platform] running the laser system in a ‘raster’ process.” This means that the laser lays down the image in horizontal stripes, similarly to the way that a normal inkjet printer works.

Gikling writes, “The second half of the video shows the laser running a ‘vector’ process with at beam speed of 6 meters per second. There are upwards of 100 thousand vectors in the CAD file.” The lasers start shooting all over the place, and it looks sort of like the image is being revealed out of an array of fireworks:

Watch the whole video to see the finished piece:

Images: YouTube (3)