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Project: The TechTV PC Case

When a mod calls for extreme precision and power, sometimes you need to bring out the big guns.

I love all the mods I've made with the tools in my home studio, but there's only so much you can accomplish by hand. If you want to graduate to the big leagues, you need to bring out the heavy hitters: lasers. You won't do this at home, but we contacted Precision Laser Cutting and recruited their help in creating a special TechTV PC case.

The whole process was painless. I came up with a design for a case with the TechTV logo and the new logo for "The Screen Savers." My original design was much too complicated (2,000 plus individual shapes to cut), so the guys at Precision Laser helped me clean it up by eliminating the lines that didn't work and removing extra lines and overlapping cuts. We were then ready to start zapping.

There is something very cool about watching a 5,000-watt laser cut through steel like it was tissue paper. The waterjet cutting is equally impressive. How many times do you get to see water being pumped through 100-horsepower compressors and boosted up to 55,000 psi?

Table 3.1 describes the differences between laser cutting and water cutting. This information is based on material found on the Tesko Laser web site.


We just want to say a special thanks again to Dave and Rich at Precision Laser Cutting. They were very patient with our crew who would repeatedly ask, "Can you do that one more time?"

Table 3.1 Laser Cutting versus Water Cutting

Laser Cutting

Water Cutting

Energy source

Gas laser (carbon dioxide)

High-pressure water pump

Typical uses

Cutting, drilling, engraving, ablation, structuring, welding

Cutting, ablation, structuring

Materials able to be cut

All metals (excluding highly reflective metals), all plastics, glass, and wood

All materials

Material thickness

~0.12-inch to 0.4-inch, depending on material

~0.4-inch to six inches

Common applications

Cutting flat sheet steel for sheet metal processing

Cutting stone, ceramics, and metals of greater thickness

Minimum size of cutting slit

0.006-inch, depending on

0.02-inch cutting speed

Initial investment

$300,000 with a 20 kW pump and a 6.5-foot by 4-foot table

$750,000 or more

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