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N00B Help with Laser Cutter / Engraver

Discussion in 'Laser Cutters' started by TameGorilla, Nov 2, 2017.

  1. TameGorilla

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    HI!
    I have read through the forums... a lot. I am at the point of purchase now and I could use some expert advice. There is a dizzying array of laser setups to choose from and I would like to thin the field a bit.

    I have settled on the 800mm x 800mm (40" x 40") ACRO build. I need suggestions on a laser for cutting (primary) and engraving (secondary).
    I will be cutting thick leather for bag making, perhaps acrylic for patterns. Ill be engraving leather and wood, I may even try to etch glass. I wont be dealing with any metal, unless to engrave it. Again the main application will be cutting patters through material and some wood.

    So amazing OPENBUILDS community please point me in the direction of an existing build or suggest a laser, mainboard, powersupply, software, and whatever else you think I will need to put this together. I will be building this from scratch so ill require a few polite nudges in the right direction for software and build help.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Peter Van Der Walt

    Peter Van Der Walt OpenBuilds Team
    Staff Member Moderator Resident Builder Project Maker Contest Winner! Builder

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    For your kind of work you'll need a CO2 laser (diodes are great for engraving, not cutting)
    - CO2 lasers NEED enclosures - so ACRO will not suffice on safety
    - CO2 Lasers have high voltages (20+kv), water cooling, flying optics, etc - again, not what ACRO was designed for
    - You'll probably be better off buying a K40 (see https://plus.google.com/communities/118113483589382049502 for details) for your cutting jobs (leather, acrylic wood)
    - An ACRO will do fine with engraving leather and engraving wood.
    - for cutting wood patterns, you can always route it instead of laser (using a CNC router like the OpenBuilds C-Beam Machine or OpenBuilds C-Beam Machine XLarge) - actually faster, more versatile, and less sooty (yeah, you'll soon learn how much soot lasers make - everything gets black when cutting wood)
     
  3. TameGorilla

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    Excellent advice. Can you point me in a direction for the parts I'd need? Maybe a list or an existing build.
     
  4. Peter Van Der Walt

    Peter Van Der Walt OpenBuilds Team
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    The K40 is an off the shelf machine. Click the link above to the most active community of K40 owners there is... they'll point you in the right direction. You'll have seen them many times: The K40 looks like this:

    k40.jpg

    <source> - reason I say go for commercial machine, is from my experience building openBuilds FreeBURN-1 V-slot CO2 Laser (60-100w) and later openBuilds FreeBURN-2-Mini V-slot CO2 Laser (40-50w) (both my old designs - in both cases, despite using the best parts I could. Despite me coding up the LaserWeb project (github.com/LaserWeb was my baby that I founded, before I joined team openBuilds - its since been handed over to the other developers so i can focus on Openbuilds) to have proper software, it just never really worked out great. Building proper lasers is hard. Unless you have years of machine building experience you will have a bad time (plus expose yourself to huge bodily risk, 20kv stops your heart even just from an arc to the case, and co2 light blinds in an instant). Get an off the shelf K40, learn to use it properly first, upgrade it a little with the help of the G+ community linked above. Develop your skillset and when you're a laser pro, try building one then. (PS I think this may be the first time ever I advise someone NOT to build their own - usually I say GO for it, you'll learn a lot. Here, not so much, too expensive, too dangerous)
     
  5. Peter Van Der Walt

    Peter Van Der Walt OpenBuilds Team
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    (or relax your requirements, forget about cutting, if you only want engraving, then you can go for an ACRO)
     
  6. TameGorilla

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    What about a knife cutter? Engraving and wood... Not really important. Knife plotter setup would be excellent for you needs I just have no idea where to go
     
  7. Peter Van Der Walt

    Peter Van Der Walt OpenBuilds Team
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    You'd need to design a Z axis for the knife to fit on an Acro.
     
  8. TameGorilla

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    Couldn't the z axis be manually set based on thickness, how would the actual cutter be attached? Would the blade need to turn?
     
  9. Peter Van Der Walt

    Peter Van Der Walt OpenBuilds Team
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    Z axis of some sort, even if its a solenoid, servo, etc, is there to lift the knife between sections of a cut (eg letters of a word, etc are separate cuts).

    Blade needs to turn, yes, dedicated vinyl cutter blades and holder like Vinyl Cutter Plotter Holder with 15pcs 30 45 60 Degree Blades would work once you design a Z axis

    knife.PNG

    Furthermore dragknife cutting involves a trailing offset swivel blade, your CAM software needs to account for the needed overrun of the swivel offset:

    (Example toolpath showing the toolhead movement to compensate for what the blade tip needs to do. I build one a couple years ago, also one of those cases where its a fun toy for a DIY machine, but hard learning curve ahead)
    dragknife.png
     

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