Glossary of laser cutting terms - P. From Tesko Laser, providing laser cutting and metal fabricating services. Tesko Laser Division - photos
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Glossary of laser cutting terms - P



Polymers, or plastics, are divided up into two main groups, thermoplastics and thermosets. See Thermoplastics and Thermosets.

Positioning Tolerance

The ability to position a part to be laser cut within a degree of inches for the x, y, and z-axis. The positioning tolerance specifies how closely a component has to be placed relative to its ideal placement. The positioning tolerance measures the position of uncertainty between where a part is supposed to be placed or a cut to be made and where it actually occurs. See Repeatability Tolerance.

Power Density

Laser output per unit area, such as watts per square centimeter (W/cm2).


A discontinuous burst of laser, light or energy, as opposed to a continuous beam. A single burst of energy from a laser. A true pulse achieves higher peak powers than that attainable in a CW output. See CW.

Pulse Frequency

The rate at which pulses are generated. Pulse frequency is expressed in pulses per second (Hz).

Pulse Length

Time, expressed in fractions of seconds, in which energy is delivered. Application Report shows the electrical input pulse length, which corresponds to the half height of the leading and trailing edges of the optical pulse.


  1. Electrical modulation of a laser power supply to produce discreet pulses of energy at a given pulse length and pulse period (pulse repetition rate).
  2. Mechanical interruption of the laser beam by a rotating chopper, which alternately blocks or passes the laser beam.
  3. Acousto-optical modulation of the beam within the laser resonator, caused by a device generically called a Q-switch. See Q-Switch.

Pulsed Laser

Laser which delivers energy in the form of a single or train of pulses. This provides higher power at shorter intervals and is most often associated with the burr-free cutting of stainless steel and other high-strength, hard-to-cut materials. See CW.


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