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Figure 1. Laser cutting makes elegant and complex fashion designs easy and beautiful. Source: Solarbotics/CC BY 2.0
With the ability to create intricate cutwork to enhance the décolletage of a gown, or scalloped lace edges that flatter the hemline of a sundress, laser cutters are rapidly becoming more popular in the realm of fashion design. They help designers bring their most creative work to life, thanks to their ability to effortlessly and precisely cut a pattern or engrave directly on to fabrics. Laser cutting is both extremely accurate and fast — important features for designers wanting to incorporate fine detail onto a variety of fabrics. Speed is also a plus in a fashion design classroom, where students may be simultaneously working on creating multiple projects.
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Figure 1: The Epilog Zing Starter Series offers excellent entry-level laser cutters.  Source: Epilog Laser

The start of the school year is the perfect time for anyone considering a laser cutter to learn the foundations of this exciting technology.

Just as they are in makerspaces and fab labs, laser cutters are one of the most versatile tools one can have in a  classroom. They can cut patterns or pieces for final assembly; they can cut through a range of materials with high precision; and they are easy to use. All of those qualities rolled into one piece of technology make the laser cutter a very powerful piece of equipment -- and a great investment for schools, businesses and entrepreneurs alike. When first starting out, here are a few tips to bear in mind:
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Figure 1: Laser-cut architectural model by Joris Heitkamp. Source: FabLab Den Haag/CC BY 2.0

Laser cutters offer architecture students a unique opportunity to see their ideas quickly and precisely move from paper to miniature versions of reality. Whether a student’s creation is a home, downtown development, bridge, railway or architectural flourish, laser cutters offer tremendous advantages for three-dimensional fabrication.

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Figure 1. Students assemble customized robots from laser cut components. Source: Fabrice Florin/CC BY-SA 2.0

Laser cutters offer architecture students a unique opportunity to see their ideas quickly and precisely move from paper to miniature versions of reality. Whether a student’s creation is a home, downtown development, bridge, railway or architectural flourish, laser cutters offer tremendous advantages for three-dimensional fabrication.

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Middle school teachers who are fortunate enough to have laser cutting machinery at their disposal are faced with figuring out how to incorporate the technology into meaningful lessons. Far beyond personalized engraved trinkets, laser systems can teach children skills that will benefit them in high school (and beyond), including organization and preparation. In addition, laser cutters let young adolescents use creativity while learning science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM).

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Figure 1. Assembled 3D model of Abraham Lincoln, made from laser-cut taskboard. Source: Epilog Laser

Schools across the country are faced with integrating STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) into their curriculum. That can be a daunting task. For teachers committed to hands-on, experiential learning, introducing a laser cutter into the classroom can make STEM lessons fun and much more accessible than learning from textbooks alone. Laser cutters and engravers bring lessons alive; educators know that when students make connections between the concepts in the classroom and concepts in the real world, more parts of their brains are activated and the knowledge gained through hands-on activity more easily transfers to long-term memory.

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Figure 1. A house and topography model. Source: Epilog Laser

Laser engravers are versatile pieces of equipment in schools. Not only do they offer a great way to teach students skilled craftsmanship, but they also provide a way for schools to save money on student and teacher awards, directional and instructional signage and various other projects that were once outsourced.

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

For middle schools and high schools a high-quality, durable laser cutter engraver is a highly sought-after tool.

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Laser tag

Check out this amazing new lesson plan sponsored by Epilog Laser! Using vector-based graphic design software and an Epilog Laser cutter/engraver, students will learn to design and produce their very own custom backpack/luggage tag.

View the lesson plan

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Figure 1. After sending a job to the laser at the Pikes Peak Library District makerspace, operators eagerly wait for their projects to be completed. Source: Epilog Laser

Schools that have introduced laser cutting in a woodworking or engineering program offer students the ability to create projects as varied as balsa wood airplanes to gumball machines. More

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