I am so intreagued by the thought of incorporating a laser into the machine I am building, but I can't seem to sort through all the differing opinions about minimum power requirements, wave length and other factors needed to etch, burn, etc. various materials such as wood, aluminum, steel and plastic. I cannot afford to get a commercial, high power head so I thought to by something like one of those diodes pulled from a DVD burner. Can someone help me clear the air? Is one of these diodes really useful? I mainly would use it for art creation. Has anyone successfully been using one of these? What is the power rating? Can you post some photos of work you have done that have demanded the most performance from your laser? Is there a reliable, low-cost source for them, or must a person just keep looking on EBay for one?
If these diodes are not up to the task I may just try to save up for another kind to buy later. But then the questions really start piling up. . . CO2? YAG? (I don't even know what YAG is) Or what other kind works good and doesn't cost much? Any help greatly appreciated.