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What are Lasers Used for?

Laser warning sign.
Laser cutter cutting metal.
Handheld laser barcode scanner.
Laser light show.
Lasers are used to read CDs and DVDs.
Laser printer.
Article Details
  • Written By: S. Mithra
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 22 April 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Lasers are used in practically every major industry, from medicine and computers to entertainment and construction. A power rating, usually in watts, determines the strength of the laser. Some can cut through metal, while others read tiny bits of information without damaging the surface. Basically, the applications can be divided into marking, etching, and cutting, or reading and scanning.

In the medical industry, carbon dioxide lasers are used in many types of surgery because they are more precise and sensitive than scalpels. They can be used to remove tattoos without needing skin grafts, as well as to painlessly clear rot out of teeth. When used for surgery, they are often less invasive, which means that the patient often recuperates more quickly. A laser can be used to remove certain types of tumors or to correct a patient's vision by reforming the lens of the eye. Damage to surrounding tissue, as well as bleeding, can also be reduced.

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Many common home or office devices include lasers as an intrinsic part of their performance. CD, DVD and Blu-ray™ players use the light to read the audio and video information on the disc, the way a needle used to read the groove of a record. Recorders have stronger lasers that can burn the information onto the surface of the disc, either temporarily or permanently. They are also used in laser printers to change a surface, in this case paper, to display text and graphics. Even at the grocery store, they're used to scan the barcode on packages to tell the computerized register what a shopper is buying and how much it costs.

Lasers of the appropriate strength can etch surfaces from plastic to rock. Some companies inscribe a minute identification number on diamonds to keep track of them. Tombstones made of granite or limestone are carved with powerful lasers. Many metal pieces can be precisely cut out, drilled, and welded together to make a finished product using ones capable of melting metal.

Even though the first laser was made in a laboratory back in 1960, it took several decades to apply this tool to various technologies. Now, lasers are indispensable to most people's daily lives. Visible ones have even replaced strings, levels, and stakes in surveying equipment. A laser show inside a planetarium uses colored lights of all widths simulate the night sky.

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Discuss this Article

LisaLou
Post 19

The best laser light show I have ever seen was at Disneyland. Some might think this is just for kids, but I was as much in awe as all of the kids were. It is simply amazing what they can do with a laser light show. This was done over water and was one of the most dazzling things I have ever seen.

bagley79
Post 18

I have an uncle who engraves tombstones for a living. Most people would never think about how this is done, but it is a job that someone has to do. Lasers have made a huge difference in how they engrave tombstones today compared to the way this was done before lasers.

For myself, one of the best purchases I made for my home office was a laser printer. I do quite a bit of printing at home and had always used an inexpensive ink jet printer. When I finally broke down and invested in a laser printer, it printed so much faster and the quality was better too.

Ever since I bought that first laser printer, that is all I have used since then. Once you get used to their benefits, it is hard to go back to using anything else.

julies
Post 17

If anybody grew up in the era where you listened to your music by albums on a turntable, you remember what the sound of the needle on the record was like. What an improvement lasers have made when now listening to music on a CD. You don't hear any of that scratching sound.

If we stopped to think about the number of things we use on a daily basis that rely on lasers we would probably be amazed by it all.

honeybees
Post 16

Several years ago I had laser eye surgery so I wouldn't have to rely on glasses or contacts to see long distance. It really is amazing how this is done.

My husband was able to stay in the room with me and watch the whole procedure. Although I couldn't see what the doctor was doing, I could hear what was going on, and I remember the faint smell of something burning.

I had mixed results with this surgery. My vision was corrected and for a couple of years I could see just fine. Gradually my vision started to diminish and return back to where it was before I ever had the surgery.

My doctor said he could do a laser enhancement for me, but I figured I had messed with my eyes enough and would not have any more laser surgery done on my eyes anyway.

anon33077
Post 2

what are some uses of lasers in computer science?

anon33076
Post 1

what are some uses of laser in commerce?

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