Everyone has heard the word laser before. Whether Darth Vader’s laser sword or a laser pointer in school lessons, it’s all about strong light. In fact, at TYPEMYKNIFE® kitchen knives we label them with a very powerful beam of light. ( The development of the laser )
Laser technology has been around since the 1960s. The basic idea was to bundle light extremely to create a strong parallel beam of light. The light is focused in gas, or so-called solids, often artificial crystals such as ruby or YAG. The parallel beam of light must also be amplified from the outside with even more energy. To concentrate the light in the laser, a semi-transparent mirror then only lets out the laser beam. That’s very easy to explain now, but Krömer and Alfrjorov received a Nobel Prize for it. So that’s just the basic principle.
In the 1980s, low-power semiconductor laser diodes were developed, which we still know from CD or DVD drives. These diodes later become very important in order to pump even more light from the outside into a laser than so-called pump diodes. They are also used with TYPEMYKNIFE® in the laser.
But these diodes also made it possible to implement the fiber optic networks that are so much discussed today.
Disk and fiber lasers were first developed in the 1990s
Both are solid state lasers. The disk laser uses a crystal. The fiber laser, and I’ll go into that in more detail now because we use it at TYPEMYKNIFE®, has a fiber optic bundle at its heart. Hence the name fiber laser.
The fiber laser
Like most of today’s technology, a fiber optic bundle is not just a bundle of fiber optic strands.
In a fiber laser, this glass is a very special composition. It is laboriously drawn from the melt in order to obtain an exactly parallel glass thread that always has the same diameter and properties. In order to improve these properties, the thread is connected with so-called rare earths.
The laser light is generated in the fibers created in this way. In our laser, which we use for knife engraving with TYPEMYKNFE®, so-called pump diodes are arranged around the fiber strand.
Pump diodes are the small lamps mentioned above that send the light into the fiber strand. Now two very important mirrors come into play.
One like a lid at one end of the fiber bundle reflects the light, the other is only semi-transparent. The light accumulates in the glass fiber strand and comes out with high pressure on the half-mirror side. This is then the laser beam with which we mark kitchen knives.
The laser beam engraves the knife blade. In fact, the laser beam heats the surface of the knife steel, altering the surface to absorb light and producing a deep, permanent, abrasion-resistant black on the stainless steel.
But this only works if all the settings that determine the laser beams are set exactly. There is the oscillation of the light beam, the so-called frequency. Then of course the strength of the beam of light depends essentially on the heating of the steel. The length of the light beam, the pulse. The speed with which the laser beam travels over the knife is also decisive. Every spot that is not lasered must be jumped over by the light beam. This jump is also precisely defined. Run-up, hop, landing, brake…
An ingenious arrangement of two mirrors determines how the light beam can be moved. The laser scanner. These two mirrors direct the laser beam across the knife surface. They are very fine in movement and lightning fast in reaction. Without these sensitive mirrors, it would not be possible to brake, decelerate, interrupt and restart the laser beam with every jump.
For us at TYPEMYKNIFE® there is another, very important component of the laser system. The optics. If the laser beam runs over our inscription field of more than thirty centimeters, which is unbelievably large for laser technology, things change angle and distance to surface.
If the laser shines in the middle, the light is vertical and the distance is short. If the laser shines in the outer areas, the angle becomes larger and the beam longer. A specially ground optic compensates for this effect in such a way that the laser beam works with a consistent laser engraving result no matter where on the inscription surface.
With all of this laser technology specially developed for TYPEMYKNIFE®, we can make the largest kitchen knives permanently black on both sides on both sides.
It doesn’t matter if a knife is long and narrow like a salmon knife or almost square like a cleaver. The laser does its job perfectly.
And like Cicero said, never put knives in the dishwasher.