Can Laser Technology Be Eco-Friendly?

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One of the biggest concerns in modern times is being eco-friendly. People throughout the UK are switching to be more energy efficient in their homes and on the road, to have less of an impact on the environment. With this in mind, laser cutting may be perceived as something that isn’t an environmentally friendly process, but that is incorrect.

There are so many uses for lasers, and it’s staggering how much of an impact they have on daily life, such as car manufacturing and material fabrication. Because of this wide use, there has been a large focus on these technologies being eco-friendly.

With the introduction of the Climate Change Act in 2008, there is now a need for all the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced by 80% by 2050 (when compared to 1990 emissions). This is just one reason why lasers have become more eco-friendly.

This blog will look at how laser technology is used and the efforts being made to make sure they’re as environmentally friendly as possible.

Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is a process that allows us to process materials, create detailed designs, precise cuts and other services. Thanks to how versatile this process is, there are a number of ways that it’s become more eco-friendly.

Computer Aided Design / Computer Aided Manufacture (otherwise known as CAD/CAM), allows for minimal wastage of any material. One of the biggest problems with other material manufacturing processes is that they can be quite wasteful. They require a great deal of human input which, more often than not, can suffer from lack of precision.

As CAD only requires a person to input the specific details onto a computer, there is very small chance of human error. The computer will also automatically ensure that there’s minimum wastage so you get the most out of the material.

Another big advancement in laser cutting technology is gas lasers. They are able to make precise cuts without causing any excessive heat. This type of laser is compatible with CAD/CAM, ensuring it can still have high degrees of intricacy.

One of the most recent and biggest developments within the laser cutting industry is the introduction of fibre lasers. What makes these devices so unique is how efficient they are. Compared to CO2 lasers they save 70% of electricity, making it a technology with one of the lowest running cycles.

Something that has been a large concern when it comes to laser technology is how much gas they consume. The average fibre laser uses 45% less gas; a measurement that’s more eco-friendly than previous cutters. Efficiency is 200% more than a standard CO2, something that has a notable impact on both short and long term benefits.

Laser Headlights

An important addition to any vehicle is the headlights. If a person is driving at night, or visibility is low, they are essential for safety, and it’s a legal requirement to have them too. Until now, technology hasn’t been too advanced in this area.

The solution thus far is laser lights. When at full beam, these lights can illuminate the road for at least a third of a mile. This is double the range of LED lights that are in the majority of modern cars at the moment.

As this is quite a bright light, it’s bounced off a number of reflectors and mirrors to ensure the white light is diffused to avoid any distraction to other drivers. This technology is incredibly versatile and can also detect when there’s a driver ahead. Once it senses someone, it will direct the light towards the ground. This saves a driver the effort of dimming the lights off and on again.

Unfortunately, this technology is only currently available in luxury vehicles, although as it advances it is likely to be integrated into more and more models.

Laser Powered Military Hardware

Laser technology is now being introduced to the military to help improve their carbon footprint and efficiency. Just by looking at the news it’s easy to see that there are a number of budgetary cutbacks being made to this sector, requiring the military to adapt appropriately.

This had led to the development of new drone and tank technology that can be powered by lasers. They utilize a laser transmitter that converts power from a generator or battery, and generates a monochromatic beam of light. This beam of light is absorbed by a photovoltaic cell and converted to power.

One of the biggest benefits of this is how much it can power. Furthermore, the batteries won’t only be charged, but the laser can also provide the heat which is used for engine thrust. The lasers are also useful in other situations such as surveillance, target acquisition and more.

This technology is still being perfected, but once it’s implemented it’ll be exciting to see how much of an impact it can have. It could very well be the stepping stones to a new type of power option that can be utilised in the military.

Laser Printer

Laser printers aren’t a new innovation, as a matter of fact they’ve been around for a long time. However, some have questioned their impact on the environment. They were known for having large wastage and excessive heat levels, but Samsung are now showing that this doesn’t have to be the case.

They have created an eco-friendly foldable laser printer, which is aptly named the Origami. Surprisingly, the case is made from recycled cardboard. In 2013 at the International Design Excellence Awards, this printer took home the trophy for the the Eco-conscious Award.

As well as being eco-friendly, The Origami has been praised for its high level of durability- so don’t be fooled by the cardboard! One of the greatest advantages of this printer is that is once it has outlived its usefulness, it can then be recycled to provide more paper.

Of course cardboard isn’t the only material used in this machine. Inside there’s a printing engine which is made from metal, plastic and various mineral components, helping to make it one of the most eco-friendly printers available on the market.

The Origami is a game changer for the printing industry. Now the majority of manufacturers are working on their own eco-friendly laser printers, although it could be a long way off seeing anything released. Yet with all of these manufacturers competing for the best eco-friendly printer, it’s an interesting time in the world of lasers.

Here’s the printer in action:

Laser Light Sensors

Although it isn’t a new technology, Light Laser Sensors are a product that has saved thousands of pounds for people over the years. A number of businesses and homes have invested in security lights situated on certain points for insurance reasons. Before installing this technology, these lights would probably have been on 24/7, which isn’t only distracting but it’s also incredibly uneconomical.

It may be a simple solution, but installing laser sensors means that these lights will only switch on if they detect movement. People have found that it works better for security due to a person being more likely to notice the light switching from off to on, as opposed to them being on at all times.

This type of laser sensor doesn’t require much energy to power it either. A number of people choose to leave their sensor on throughout the day, as they know it won’t have that much of an effect on the energy bills.

Space Exploration

This may seem like a strange addition, but laser technology has actually made exploring space a lot easier. To discover this fascinating place takes a lot of time, effort and money. As well as in depth research into not only how this rocket will fly, but also how humans will survive inside, as well as having sufficient oxygen, water and food supplies.

Humans have only stepped foot on the moon, however, satellites have been sent beyond this, where it has been made possible to collect data. The Curiosity rover was sent to Mars on November 26th 2011 to complete the following objectives:

Investigate what the climate and geology is like
Assess the weather conditions to see if microbial life could survive
Investigate if there’s water and how it would cope on this planet
If the planet is suitable for human existence

Thanks to laser technology, Curiosity hasn’t only allowed us to learn invaluable information about Mars but also saved money and energy due to it’s smaller size. If the rover comes across an object of interest, an infrared laser will vaporise and examine it to detect its composition.

Of course, NASA aren’t able to use standard equipment for Curiosity; after all, the rover is exploring an alien planet in space. However, it makes use of a laser telescope so it can see far into the distance even in bad weather conditions; something that’s essential during a sandstorm on Mars!

Also installed inside the rover is a tunable laser spectrometer, and this is what detects oxygen and carbon levels in the atmosphere. Thanks to all of this technology we’ve been able to learn a lot about Mars without having to send human beings there.

It’s amazing to see all of the pictures the rover has taken. If you want to see the latest images, click here.

Laser Technology, It Can Be Eco-friendly

From looking at this blog you can see just how useful and eco-friendly laser technology can be. There’s always new experiments and devices being created, so it’ll be interesting to see what gets released next.

If you know of any other eco-friendly technologies let us now with a comment below. It’s also possible to connect with us on Twitter: @YorksProfiles

Yorkshire Profiles Ltd

Yorkshire Profiles Ltd