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Laser Cutters: The Investment Every School Board Should Consider

Figure 1. Schools can save significant sums by engraving their own awards, plaques and signs. Source: Epilog Laser
Friday, March 16, 2018

Jennifer Bosavage

For middle schools and high schools a high-quality, durable laser cutter engraver is a highly sought-after tool. Even elementary schools are getting excited about this type of equipment. Laser cutters help to develop valuable technical skills, nurture logical and creative thought processes and, in the long run, can actually save schools money.

In addition to classroom usage, schools with laser cutters can create their own student and teacher awards and recognition products, design and produce directional and instructional signage and fabricate much more. While some school boards might have little money to spend on new equipment, a case can be made to show budget-minded school boards why they need to consider laser cutters, and how such tools can make the investment worthwhile.

1. Laser Cutters Develop Technical Skills
Learning to use a laser cutter and engraver is fairly easy. Because they’re intuitive and easy to operate, less time is spent teaching students how to operate the machinery so more time can be devoted to actually using it. Laser cutting systems work in a way that's similar to printers but instead of ink, the laser uses a beam of light to etch and engrave or cut through a variety of materials. Students can learn how to operate a laser, use graphic software to design for the laser, ensure proper laser safety and develop computer-assisted programming skills.

The technical skills students develop in high school might well expose them to a career path. Those in the skilled trades are well compensated: on average, the paychecks for trades are either at or above other careers. Research from the State of Michigan found that skilled trades provide an above average median wage, paying between $12 and $34 an hour. Laser cutters help educators transform students into project-based builders well before they reach the job market. Those skills serve students well regardless of whether they are looking for a full-time or part-time job, and also can provide the foundation for a budding entrepreneur.

2. Laser Cutters Foster Creativity and Design
All laser projects require a design plan. This typically is created in a vector-based graphic software program that tells the laser where to cut and where to engrave. Designing for the laser helps develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. In addition, research has found that students learn better and retain more with hands-on projects that have real-life applications. Students can create virtually anything using laser cutters, from simple projects such as text engraving to more intricate 3D models, all while practicing math skills, learning laser design skills and creating finished products.

3D printers are another commonly sought-after device for schools and are great companions for laser cutters in a student makerspace. However, if the school must choose between a 3D printer and a laser cutter, smart money is on the laser cutter. Lasers are significantly faster than 3D printers. Due to their speed, lasers can help ensure that every student in a typical class can complete a small project in a single period.

3. Laser Cutters Deliver Bang for the Taxpayers’ Buck
A school with a laser can produce its own student and teacher awards and plaques, as well as one-of-a-kind gifts or custom promotional products for fundraising. No more time is wasted trying to find affordable outside vendors when so many tasks can be accomplished by students in a variety of classes, clubs or other programs. For example, drama students can use the laser to create and enhance sets, props and costumes.

Sports departments can cut custom appliques for jackets and team t-shirts, or even engrave game-winning commemorative baseballs, footballs and equipment. Art students can experiment with new materials and applications to hone their craft and create new pieces. Music departments can use the laser to serialize or brand instruments to reduce theft.

 

The most effective school boards invest in programs that support and cultivate student learning — the top priority. School resources, therefore, are spent on promoting achievement for all students. Laser engravers and cutters can be utilized by an entire school community, including teachers and faculty. Not only can the machines teach a valuable skill that could lead to a career and potential entrepreneurship, but also pay for themselves by allowing operators to create products the school would have to spend taxpayer money on. Effective boards understand their accountability to the communities they serve. Therefore, procuring a school laser cutter should be looked on as an investment in students and schools, rather than as expenditure.

Content sponsored by Epilog Laser: https://www.epiloglaser.com/gs-try-engineering/.

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This content was provided by Epilog Laser. In business since 1988, Epilog Laser has worked hard to become the leader in the laser engraving, cutting and marking industry. We are innovators. We are problem solvers. We are committed to designing and manufacturing the highest-quality laser systems, right here in our Golden, CO headquarters. Read More.

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