CO2 Lasers….

New Home Forum Random or Off Topic CO2 Lasers….

This topic contains 37 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Ryan 2 months ago.

Viewing 30 posts - 1 through 30 (of 38 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #37815

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Okie dokie here we go.

    I have, as I am sure most of us, have wanted to play with the big lasers. I got a little more serious when I started cutting out more flat parts. I started looking into a laser cutter and the prices are outrageous when you get into anything bigger than 8″x8″, same laser power just larger build platform.

    So I looked for parts, that sucks, super expensive for a tube, power supply, optics, optics mounts. So I think I am going to get the cheap ebay model, rip it apart and mpcnc it. That means an enclosure of some sort but worth it.

    Any experience with these lasers, recommendations? Keep in mind I just want to cut out parts with the same tolerances I am getting with the router.

    1 user thanked author for this post.
    #37832

    Jeffeb3
    Participant

    You should probably make a mount for the low rider 🙂

    A laser cutter is next on my list. I can’t imagine needing a huge platform, but I would love to be able to work on huge pieces. The wife expects me to make several more projects with the low rider before I can build my next machine. I am thinking sometime around winter.

    I saw the corexy post and I wanted to respond with the same thing. I would love a CO2 laser setup that could cut at about 12×12, but hopefully more like 24×18, and it would be awesome if I could mount it on top of a large piece of plywood, either to cut out parts with less waste, or to engrave on larger projects. It’s also possible I don’t actually need 40W…

    #37833

    Jeffeb3
    Participant

    Does the enclosure have to be metal?

    #37836

    Barry
    Participant
    Does the enclosure have to be metal?

    Most likely not. If a stray laser hits it, the beam will be out of focus. Enclosures are mostly for eye protection.

    #37837

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    There is a 40w on ebay shipped from a local spot, so I put in an offer to pick it up to save some dough. Might have one Monday. I think it was a “40” watt so I figured it would be safe to drive it at 30W all day.

    Lowrider might work kinda depends on the speeds needed to cut, say 1/4″.

    I will try a wood enclosure painted in white or something first, Lined with aluminum foil? it should not ever actually hit the box so, who knows. I am fearful of a 30W laser though so I will do some test to see haw fast it can ruin my day if I get one.

    #37838

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    This all just kind of fall in line with the sand table, corexy, standalone laser build like dkj4linux idea. Some many projects, summer is a bit slower so I am messing with them all simultaneously. In a month or so biz picks back up and hopefully we get 1 or more good projects out of it.

    #37950

    I think that, indeed, purchasing an el cheapo CO2 laser machine is probably cheaper than purchasing all the CO2 components one by one, so I suggest you to go for this solution.

    About the enclosure, I don’t think you actually need to enclose the whole thing. Just enclose the laser paths and make a small box around the area where the laser will meet your work surface. It can be made of some semi transparent acrylic, as long as it meets your laser wavelenghts specifications. Building a whole enclosure is possible, but it will be bulky and make maintenance harder, your choice.

    #37952

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I have a 40W and an air assist pump on the way!

    Dui, I think that is the way I will start with just a small shield (and safety glasses) but I am worried about stray reflections so I am pretty sure I will find a way to enclose it. The 2.8W is crazy bright, I can’t imagine the damage a 40W could do with a minor mistake. I had lasik done….no more lasers in my eyes or anyone else’s.

    #37965

    Barry
    Participant
    I have a 40W and an air assist pump on the way!

    Dui, I think that is the way I will start with just a small shield (and safety glasses) but I am worried about stray reflections so I am pretty sure I will find a way to enclose it. The 2.8W is crazy bright, I can’t imagine the damage a 40W could do with a minor mistake. I had lasik done….no more lasers in my eyes or anyone else’s.

    Nice thing about co2 lasers, you can’t see them. /s The tube will glow, ’cause it’s a neon tube around the laser chamber, but the laser is invisible, right up to poking holes in your retina. If you can put like a 4″ shield around the target area, parallel with the work, then have the whole assembly surrounded by a short “wall” of laser resistant material you should be good.

    #38100

    Bob Swika
    Participant

    Can’t wait to see how this project goes. I’m interested in doing the same.

    #38403

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    So do I give it a test run or just rip it apart?

    #38405

    Barry
    Participant
    So do I give it a test run or just rip it apart?

    Well, you gotta make sure it works, you’re not AvE…

    #38406

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    You can’t prove that can you????

    #38407

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    So the focus is extremely touchy, I think this is going to be tough even with stainless rails.

    #38408

    Kevin Lopez
    Participant

    Yeah maybe he is AvE…My neighbor’s name is Ryan, too bad he isn’t the vicious one 🙁

    #38410

    Barry
    Participant
    You can’t prove that can you????

    Yea, you guys don’t sound the same at all!

    #38412

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I’ve been wearing safety squints all day try to get the laser to chooch so I can post some pics in the dooblydoo… Any better?

    #38413

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I’ve been wearing safety squints all day try to get the laser to chooch so I can post some pics in the dooblydoo… Any better?

    #38414

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    All day I have been screaming “fucus you fack!

    Super awesome worth $360,up and running in no time took 20 min to align the mirrors. The software doesn’t even suck, I’m not sure what everyone complains about.

    Now I gotta rip it apart.

    #38417

    Kevin Lopez
    Participant

    Gentlemen welcome back to the shop. Today we have a treat especial, we are going to be looking at the EMMMPPCNC.

    1 user thanked author for this post.
    #38474

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Okay so The alignment and aiming are a bit more fiddly than I initially thought. Turns out you also need to really get the beam in the middle of the mirrors. This things has insane power and is almost useless without air assist (thought ahead and have one already). I am learning so much it is pretty fun.

    So far the only real downside is the lack of an adjustable mount on the tube, and the crappy mirror mounts (no up and down adjustment so you have to bend things or use washers) it make alignment and aiming take a little more work but seriously not to bad so far. My tube is off a tiny bit so at the extremes my beam wanders about 2mm on the final mirror, not bad but I can do better with some shims.

    #38528

    Barry
    Participant
    I’ve been wearing safety squints all day try to get the laser to chooch so I can post some pics in the dooblydoo… Any better?

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/dtRqTH6J47pWJU3s1

    1 user thanked author for this post.
    #42236

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Time for an update, more than a month later.

    Worth the money…Not really.

    I bought it figuring all the easy updates I could do, make it giant, slap it on the MPCNC or the LowRider no problem, shoot I doubt it.

    This is a whole new level of required accuracy, and as we all know out of the box it does not meet those requirements.

    I have spent at least 20 hours getting what I want out of the alignment, 6mm MDF cuts. I will comfortably say that is the max.

    Not sure how to structure this. So here is a random list of lessons learned.

    1-I had to un-mount and turn the tube over as installed it holds a giant air bubble at the lens you are trying to keep cool.

    2-You should never operate it above about 55% power, there is almost no cutting power to be gained but it adds a ton of heat and supposedly really kills the tube.

    3-The bed clamp thing it comes with is pointless.

    4-No way to adjust the bed depth other that shims, if you wanted to do a box lid or something you have some major disassembly to do.

    5- Most of it is mounted to the sheet metal bottom so any movements and it is all out of alignment and skew. Even though it is on wheels I had to put it on a rolling rack.

    6-The software is not as bad as people make it out to be other than they send you corel draw and a Crack to install it…Pirate much?

    7-Scorchworks inkscape plugin is insanely awesome.

    8- Air assist is a must for deeper cleaner cutting and etching, without it fire is a certainty, I printed my own nozzle.

    Now the two large issues.

    9-The ventilation thing is impossible. I have taped every hole shut from the inside and out, including taping it closed before turning it on, my lungs are killing me right now. I have no idea where this crap is leaking from but I am sure I have lung cancer in my future and that is after a 4 minute cut. I have added a fan as well, so the big one it comes with(with the back sealed with tape) and an inline duct booster fan, all duct taped shut hanging out a two story window. I’d like to think I am no dummy but this thing spews crap into the air and I don’t know where from. I tried controlling the inlet of fresh air from small holes to the lid being slightly open, It still smell like I had a boyscout jamboree kumbaya bonfire in the office. And I am not lying my lungs hurt…again.

    10-Lenses, alignment, ect. The lenses/mirrors come filthy, I had to chip stuff of with my finger nail. They obviously align it by sticking tape to the lenses and burning it. They are no where near alignment when you get it. The lenses/mirrors that come with it are pretty bad and not big enough. The lens has a very small aperture when placed in a 45 degree mount, anything but perfect center alignment will clip the beam and severely limit your total power at the cutting point (the beam is actually very large and only focuses/culminates at the final lens. The 1st and second mirrors are on hand cut sheet metal mounts with no way to align them in the z axis other than bending or shimming the mount screws. The 3rd nozzle mirror has no alignments other than rotational in it’s hole and forward and backward (Yaxis). So I ended up with a low nozzle mirror that was angled in, yup shims and tape on the mirror to angle it and it is still a few mm off.

    Doing it yourself is a better option, you need the tube, power supply, mirrors and lenses, and mirror lens mounts. Lots of site documenting how to use a aduino based board to control them. From there a few 3D printed parts in a custom box with some knock off hiwin rails would be a much better laser. Adding this as is to a mpcnc is not the best option I don’t think. If you got a set of larger mirrors/and lenses it could work but laser alignment in not laughing matter. You will be doing it all yourself anyway might as well start from scratch.

    Again if it is just for etching, it works great, cutting is a whole new ballgame.

    So for 6mm MDF I cut at 55% power at 5mm/s with air assist. I easily do the same on either cnc at 8.3mm/s but it takes two passes as I do a rough and finishing pass, the laser is slightly faster, but….6mm is the laser absolute max and it has a heavily modified bed to cut 332mm wide by 192mm long the lowrider is 8’x4′. I really hoped this would help increase my production.

     

    #42747

    Thanks a lot for the feedback.

    I think that most of the issues you mention are related to the chassis itself, so it could solve most of your problems to take it apart and assemble it either on the MPCNC or on the LowRider.

    It will also give you the ability to have a Z axis, so potentially deeper cuts.

    I really want to try doing that, but it’s just a little bit too expensive, plus I’m not sure how I could safely add this to my table design.

    #42753

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Yup Dui, I have a bunch of the knockoff Hiwin rails waiting for a rebuild. I think I want to skip the included mirrors and stands/mounts and just get the next larger set. To make things worse it comes with fairly large mirrors but then puts them in a holder that covers up about 1/3 of them, I wonder if 3D printed holders would hold up, they get warm but not hot….hmmm.

    #42754

    Jeffeb3
    Participant

    I somehow missed the subscribe button on this thread. I suck at technology sometimes.

    I hope you are having fun/had fun with it. I have a college buddy that works in a laser physics lab. Their goals are much loftier, so they really have to dial their lasers in, but they use these giant optical tables, that are solid metal and have precise mounting holes in them. If I ever get to the point where I can try something like this, I think I’ll kidnap him for a few hours and let him tell me WTF I’m doing wrong.

    So cool though. All that adjusting and errors get worse at larger spans, maybe try just shrinking everything at first (have you ever given advice like that? 😀 ).

    Do you watch Tech2C? He strapped a 2.5W laser to a hyper cube and he’s been getting pretty good results, even cutting through some plywood (6mm, I think?) and black acrylic.

    #42755

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I have it working pretty solid now, but the frame is welded together and it is skewed (of course). I am trying to decide if it is worth doing a custom build or just getting a different machine now that I know what I am looking for.

    Well….of course I am going to build a custom machine but I also think there is value in recommending something better for people as well. There is what looks to be a really nice package at http://www.lightobject.com/High-Speed-Desktop-40W-CO2-Laser-Engraving-Machine-wZ-Table-P1061.aspx It is $3k plus shipping but it will be half the price of any other laser and they seem to have all the right parts in this one.

    I am thinking of some flat parts for a new set of parts and before I start designing them I have to know I can produce them reliably.

    #42776

    Jeffeb3
    Participant

    The $3k machine seems like a good deal to you… That’s a dose of reality. I guess I won’t be burning holes in anyone’s eyeballs anytime soon.

    #42801

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I am trying to price it if I was to do it again. Like power supply, cost of a rambo board, tube, mirrors mounts, fan, pump ect. To see If I can do something great for under $800, for the $360 this cost plus all the other stuff I learned a lot and it was a very inexpensive leason, and I still have a wonderfully functional tool. I do think I can get something together so more can try it. The mpcnc is to heavy for the speed at which this works when etching, it can cut fine but this thing etches great at about 150mm/s…

    I think I will build a box and use some unistrut for the inner skeleton. I have a few ideas for that unistrut as well…mpcnc pro?

    #43524

    Barry
    Participant

    Unistrut, adult tinker toys!

Viewing 30 posts - 1 through 30 (of 38 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.