Watch This Laser ‘Paint’ a Work of Art in Under 3 Minutes

June 11, 2015 Updated: June 11, 2015

You’ve seen 3D printing. Now there’s laser printing.

The video above was made at LasX Industries, which made a laser system designed specifically to print artworks, in this case, an illustration drawn by Andy Gikling called “After Sunset,” which was inspired in part by the works of M.C. Escher and the Golden Ratio, a pattern often found in nature.

Gikling’s illustration was imported into the LasX software directly as a PDF, which was printed with chalk “ink” on a canvass of wood 3.3. feet (1 meter) wide at speeds ranging between roughly 20 feet per second up to about 66 feet per second.

To achieve different shades of grey on the canvass in the first half of the painting process, the printer modulates the laser beam speed, size of focus, and lines per inch so that the paint is shattered to just the right amount.

In the second part of the painting process, the laser slows down and adds brown and orange into the color scheme by literally cutting past the chalk paint and into the wood.

As with 3D printing, the primary advantage of laser printing is the ability to customize your personal designs and sketches unto a neutral material. LasX also produces laser printers that are used to make greeting cards, monograms, and packaging.

The technology behind the chalk laser printer is in principle no different than the inkjet laser printers that are used in offices and homes around the world, except chalk and wood are in the place of ink and paper, the primary distinction being that of scale and sheer power.