Lasers have always had the impression of great power. They’re used to cut through diamonds and for physics experiments. Today, though, lasers have made their way into the mainstream and are transforming diverse fields, including medicine and construction.
What’s new with lasers today? Here’s an inside look at 5 new applications offering increased precision, speed, and quality across industries.
Convenience in Construction
Ever wondered how construction workers get those precise measurements when working in the field? The answer, of course, is by using lasers. Though laser scanning tools were once cumbersome, today’s handheld laser scanners are lightweight and can provide 3D space renderings with accuracy levels exceeding ≤1.0mm. These scanners can reduce project planning costs dramatically by eliminating the need to sketch and by accessing hard-to-reach areas at worksites.
Art in Architecture
Highly detailed metalwork and scrolling woodwork used to take hours to craft by hand, but because of their beauty and numerous applications in architecture and décor, these stylized pieces have remained popular with buyers. By using laser cutting in architectural fabrication for wall partitions, gates, and signage, designers can easily transform a blueprint into a finished piece with limited labor and greater precision.
Small Scale Healthcare
Medical science has been moving in the direction of sensors, micro-devices, and other transformative tools like smart tattoos that read glucose levels, but many of these new devices are fragile or individually fitted. That’s why many medical device manufacturers are turning to laser technology to produce micro-devices for surgery, including new stents for intravascular treatment, as well as what’s sometimes called "lab on a chip" technology. These tools make advanced surgical interventions more precise, but also make traditional tools like lab testing more accessible to underserved communities.
Dentistry is one of the most underappreciated areas of healthcare and something many people neglect because it’s so unpleasant – and one of the worst and most common parts of dental care is getting a filling. Increasingly precise lasers can now remove cavities safely, rather than fill them, and also cut soft tissue with no bleeding. By using lasers as a new standard of care in dentistry, the field may be able to significantly reduce dental anxiety and avoidance.
Possibly the most interesting thing about expanded laser technology use is that it has become so mainstream — it’s now widely available to entrepreneurs and innovators in start-up accelerators and community fabrication labs for use by non-professionals.
Functioning as much as a community center as a research and engineering space, these "fab labs," as they’re known, can even be inexpensively deployed in international aid settings to print infrastructural materials on an as need basis. The technology is that simple and that accessible that the professional is becoming popular.
2017 was a big year in laser technology growth, with medical breakthroughs, the introduction of LIDAR for self-driving vehicles, semiconductor technology and more —so it’s no surprise that 2018 promises to be equally exciting.
With broader applications, greater affordability, and more lay knowledge of laser use, expect lasers to show up in workplaces, medical offices, and homes.
Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer, and researcher. A graduate of Iowa State University, he's now a full-time freelance writer and business consultant. Currently, Larry writes for Entrepreneur.com, Inc.com, and Forbes.com, among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter (@LarryAlton3), at LinkedIn.com/in/larryalton, and on his website, LarryAlton.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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