50 Years of Laser Technology

50 Years … for us mere mortals, that conjures images of slightly graying hair, a house full of teenagers, widening middles and planning for retirement. We often long for the good ‘ole days. But in the ever-changing world of technology, 50 years is the equivalent of FOREVER.

The laser had its beginning flash in 1960 at the hands of inventor Theodore Harold Maiman.  After graduating from the University of Colorado and going on to Stanford for his graduate work, Maiman demonstrated the first laser via a pink ruby medium while working at Hughes Research Laboratories.

Following closely after was Nobel Prize Winner Charles Townes, a graduate of Furman University who earned his masters degree at Duke University, and his doctorate at the California Institute of Technology. His work and research lead to his receipt of the Nobel Prize in Physics 1964 “for fundamental work in the field of quantum electronics, which has led to the construction of oscillators and amplifiers based on the maser-laser principle.”

Fifty years have passed. The Laser has “grown” from a machine requiring huge cooling systems used to prevent fires and overheating, to the small lasers in use today. It (the “Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation”) is used for everything from welding …  check out this Physics Nobel Prize site for additional information far beyond the processing power of this blogger… to tattoo removal.  It is used in surgery, and by the US Navy to shoot down drones. And for the perfect slice, it even has been used for cutting pizza.

And here at Lazer Designs, we use state of the art, high speed laser machines … we use both co2 and an nd:YAG in our Colorado shop and our overseas factory for best results on a variety of materials … for cutting and engraving. This is a no contact method of engraving, which means we can etch onto surfaces that would otherwise be unengravable! We engrave on a variety of mediums. On anodized aluminum, laser engraving comes out frosty white. On wood, it will turn a rich dark color. On marble, it comes out frosty white. On stainless steel, the resulting engraving is black. Engraving onto plastic results in the underlying coating color. For more information, check out our website.

In 1964, it was said commonly that “The laser is a solution in search of a problem.” It seems that in 50 years of work and patience, we have merely scratched the surface on the list of problems that can be solved by the lowly laser.

Many thanks to the following websites for the information used in this article:
http://www.50-years-laser.com/50-years/the-new-light.html
http://www.invent.org/hall_of_fame/96.html
http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1964/townes-bio.html
and to RMI Laser, LLC for the 50 Years of Laser Technology article in their most recent newsletter.
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