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Why the Future of Laser Material Processing Is Green (and Blue and Red and Purple)

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For decades, the laser industry has expanded slowly but steadily. Regardless of economic conditions, laser companies regularly see growth in high single-digit percentages, and experts predict that the industry can sustain this pattern for years to come. In the past, the laser market has been so reliably successful because laser companies have been able to diversify in their technological offerings; indeed, lasers are endlessly useful, providing all sorts of solutions to all sorts of professional problems.

However, perhaps most importantly, lasers are proving among the most harmless, most environmentally friendly, and most accessible of material processing tools. Several laser companies and their clients are committed to reducing the environmental impact of other technologies, and in doing so, they are making the world a safer place. Here’s why we should embrace lasers now and in the future as some of the greenest tech available:

Lasers Are Safe

Misconceptions about what lasers are and what they can do are rampant. Thanks to science fiction, many people believe that lasers are incredibly dangerous, that they can sap the life from people or blow up planets. While lasers can be immensely powerful — there are some military applications of lasers as weaponry — for the most part, laser material processing solutions are safe to use as long as users understand the proper procedure.

First, lasers that are not eye-safe — which include all lasers used for material processing — should be observed at all times by a trained operator.  The best laser cutters, engravers, and markers are designed to meet Class 1 safety requirements, which means the laser is fully contained and no operators can be exposed to laser energy — which means no getting cut in half like Anakin Skywalker. Additionally, high-quality laser processors are made from aluminum, safety glass, and other fire- and heat-proof materials, so the laser cannot accidentally ignite the unit and cause extensive damage and harm. When monitored and used appropriately, lasers are perfectly safe.

Lasers Are Sustainable

Yet, safety isn’t the only concern for emerging manufacturing tech. Humans have a legacy of excessive wastefulness when it comes to manufacturing, and that carelessness has led us directly to the disasters of climate change. Thus, for laser processing systems to be widely accepted, they must offer something other machines and technologies cannot: Sustainability.

Fortunately, lasers have the potential to be sustainable, depending on how they are built and what they are used for. For example, users can input their designs into a computer-aided manufacture (CAM) program to minimize waste of material. Recently, engineers have produced a gas laser cutter, which does not produce heat while making precise, intricate cuts. Alternatively, there are fiber lasers, which utilize 70 percent less electricity than typical lasers, conserving energy.Advancements in laser tech are occurring every day, and lasers are becoming greener and greener.

Some laser processing does release toxic and harmful fumes — as is the case with any method of processing certain types of materials. With appropriate exhaust considerations, such as air filtration systems, users can trap those fumes and prevent them from escaping into the environment. Furthermore, some laser processing companies are committed to reducing waste wherever possible. For example, Universal Laser Systems (ULS) is eager to assist in recycling defunct or outdated products, they collect them from users to prevent products cluttering of landfills.

Lasers Are Inexpensive

Finally, lasers could be the manufacturing technology of the future because they provide more use options for less expense. Laser material processing systems vary widely in price depending on size and wattage: Users who need higher wattage lasers to cut through metal or other thick materials should expect to spend upwards of $10,000 for an appropriate machine, and high-quality, top-of-the-line models can cost as much as $50,000. Still, these prices are roughly on-par with other manufacturing machines, and because lasers are more efficient — requiring less energy (especially with fiber lasers) and producing less waste thanks to CAM programs — users typically see returns on their laser processing investment relatively quickly.

Finally, laser processors tend to have less-demanding maintenance needs than other manufacturing machines. Laser cuts and marks are more precise and accurate than other options, which means users spend less time (and money) deburring and finishing their projects. Ultimately, the less time, money, and effort spent on inefficient, imprecise, and expensive material processing, the better — which is why the future will be filled with lasers.

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4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again

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reuse reduce recycle plastic bottles etc
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Vanatchanan | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/vanatchanan%20buahom

As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.

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Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.

Jars and Containers

Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.

Soda Bottles

An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.

Plastic Bags

Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!

Seeds

If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!

Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!

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These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money

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eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/cyano

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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