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Thread: 2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase

  1. #13
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    Default Re: 2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase

    Just wondering if your Lazer would cut into 2 materials,

    1) Corrugated Cardboard with a thickness of around 35mm ( 1 1/2 inches )

    2) An outline Drawing onto MDF ( Craftwood ) with a cutter depth of around 1 to 2mm ( 1/32 inch )

    Thanks

    Ken



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    Default Re: 2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase

    Quote Originally Posted by KenR60 View Post
    Just wondering if your Lazer would cut into 2 materials,

    1) Corrugated Cardboard with a thickness of around 35mm ( 1 1/2 inches )

    2) An outline Drawing onto MDF ( Craftwood ) with a cutter depth of around 1 to 2mm ( 1/32 inch )

    Thanks

    Ken
    If you have read up to this point, you can see that I haven't finished the build yet. I also haven't tested much with this laser yet because I am waiting on my safety goggles. I could only take a few guesses to answer your questions, but at the laserpointer forum, I am sure there are many with more experience that could answer.

    For my simple answer: with enough time and energy, you could likely cut through just about anything as long as it will absorb the energy of the laser, the point remains focused, and it does not reflect the beam. However, that doesn't mean it will be pretty and certainly not safe if you have no way of keeping flames down like filling the cutting area with an inert gas.

    I don't believe this laser is what you would want to cut those materials. The cardboard would likely catch on fire after only a mm or 2.

    I suspect this diode can do what you are asking with the MDF (which is essential high-density cardboard really) at 1/32 inch (which is .79mm) but likely not much more without more time and a way to keep the workpiece cool during the cut.

    With any visible light laser, you are limited in the materials you can cut by how much of the light they absorb vs. the light they reflect. And reflecting is extremely dangerous! This is what makes the CO2 laser so effective as a cutter. MDF may be too reflective for this laser. I am not sure.

    I think a CO2 laser is more suited for your task. But not so much for the 35MM cardboard. The limitation would mostly be that the depth of field of the optics in the CO2 cutter is only about 4mm before the beam becomes unfocused which will burn instead of cut. If you moved the workpiece closer as you cut, you could go deeper, but then the edges of the cone shaped beam which is now unfocused will hit the edges of the cut and start a fire. I personally would just using a jigsaw to cut that. Much faster and more safe.

    I suspect this is the #1 cause of the fires people report (an unfocused beam either by not setting the correct distance of material to the lens, trying to cut too deeply, or trying to cut material that diffuses the beam and makes it unfocused.)



    Once I get both of my cutters up and running, I will be experimenting in the area of maximizing the depth of cuts. I have some ideas for techniques to try, but I wouldn't throw them out there without trying them first.



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    Default Re: 2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase

    I use cardboard for fixturing aircraft parts and the only way to make that work is cutting multiple sheets and gluing them together over a known good form. A jig saw wouldn't be accurate enough for my purposes. The 40w cheapie is dead on so works good. Cardboard is crappie to cut, smelly and flames up a lot.

    I am wondering just how valuable the auto z set will be for hobby use? After using mine for a while I find I prefer the spacer tool. The one advantage the auto z would have maybe is safety possibly. Any time I am fiddling inside the case I remember when I first got my machine and unknown to me (at first) it was intermittently firing on it's own from time to time. I am just lucky I always respected the beam path with my fingers. By the way after using this thing I am not so afraid of it and the one interlock I hooked up is now disconnected. You do have to open it from time to time and it's a bit like a propeller on an airplane (except not near as dangerous) and you just have to always respect it. Just like my large metal lathe, I keep bulk quantities of chop sticks at the machine and any time I open the lid the first thing I do is grab one and that's what I move things around with if the power is on to the machine. Helps me to remember what I am doing. During alignment I always have a paper precede any reaching in to the beam area or I stuff a piece of aluminum up in the corner to block the beam entrance although I usually just turn the power off to make any adjustments. I am used to stopping at critical points, taking a breath and thinking before doing something I know could hurt me. Just like pausing at the end of the runway, looking for traffic,scanning controls and instruments and checking traffic again and THEN committing to going. With the CO2 I only have my regular glasses which will block the beam and I wear them all the time.

    By the way if you use the K40case there is a hole in the bottom, I think the air entrance, and I have had it scorch a paper I left under it once. I fashioned a piece of sheet aluminum to be under there to catch parts and stop the beam. All aluminum should be dull in finish so it absorbs, not reflects.

    The K40 25 watts is I think a lot different reflection and safety wise than say 200 watts.Still a good machine to develope good habits on.



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    Default Re: 2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase

    Quote Originally Posted by buddydog View Post
    I use cardboard for fixturing aircraft parts and the only way to make that work is cutting multiple sheets and gluing them together over a known good form. A jig saw wouldn't be accurate enough for my purposes. The 40w cheapie is dead on so works good. Cardboard is crappie to cut, smelly and flames up a lot.

    I am wondering just how valuable the auto z set will be for hobby use? After using mine for a while I find I prefer the spacer tool. The one advantage the auto z would have maybe is safety possibly. Any time I am fiddling inside the case I remember when I first got my machine and unknown to me (at first) it was intermittently firing on it's own from time to time. I am just lucky I always respected the beam path with my fingers. By the way after using this thing I am not so afraid of it and the one interlock I hooked up is now disconnected. You do have to open it from time to time and it's a bit like a propeller on an airplane (except not near as dangerous) and you just have to always respect it. Just like my large metal lathe, I keep bulk quantities of chop sticks at the machine and any time I open the lid the first thing I do is grab one and that's what I move things around with if the power is on to the machine. Helps me to remember what I am doing. During alignment I always have a paper precede any reaching in to the beam area or I stuff a piece of aluminum up in the corner to block the beam entrance although I usually just turn the power off to make any adjustments. I am used to stopping at critical points, taking a breath and thinking before doing something I know could hurt me. Just like pausing at the end of the runway, looking for traffic,scanning controls and instruments and checking traffic again and THEN committing to going. With the CO2 I only have my regular glasses which will block the beam and I wear them all the time.

    By the way if you use the K40case there is a hole in the bottom, I think the air entrance, and I have had it scorch a paper I left under it once. I fashioned a piece of sheet aluminum to be under there to catch parts and stop the beam. All aluminum should be dull in finish so it absorbs, not reflects.

    The K40 25 watts is I think a lot different reflection and safety wise than say 200 watts.Still a good machine to develop good habits on.

    I can imagine. Not sure cardboard is something I expect to cut. It usually cuts so easily with a knife. But then I don't do anything thick or high precision with cardboard. I imagine that the bulk of what I will use the laser for is making control panels, cutting thin plywood for structural things, and the occasional engraving.

    As for the auto Z thing. It is more just to see if it can be done and knowledge to store away for a bigger DIY build. Whenever I get a new toy, I always try to learn as much as I possibly can about it. Been disassembling, modifying, and breaking things since I was 8 years old. Hey, sometimes they even worked again after I put it back together! I mentioned in another thread how I had made a plasma cutter out of an old 5in B&W TV. I did that when I was about 13 years old. Looking back, I am lucky I didn't seriously injure myself with some of the experiments I tried.

    Look at this way - I didn't "need" a laser cutter either, but I bought one. I am not sure if I can do it, but one project that lead up to buying a laser cutter is that a friend came to me asking about a project to honor her late husband who was a detective. She has a high resolution digital copy of his fingerprint and we came up with an idea to etch the fingerprint into a looking glass and edge-light it with UV LEDs. Then put the hole thing into a pretty stand. If I can't etch into the looking glass, I will etch into the black stand material dry-brush UV ink into the etch and just light it with UV so the fingerprint glows. It would be especially awesome if the etch was so shallow or so small you couldn't see it without looking through the glass.

    (I get wrapped into some crazy projects for sure.)



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    Default Re: 2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase

    Yes.. Don't talk to me about projects, although I did manage with a friends help to digitize a recently found acetate recording from 1938 of a grandmother I never knew. We did it this morning. Pretty weird to hear her singing. Almost all that's left of her and a strange connection to the actress Cornelia Otis Skinner? Hers was a very tragic story with trickle down historical problems to today. Still nice to check one off today as finished. Made good use of my 1940's RCA recording studio!

    By the way Retro i like "reading you ". Good fun here!



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    Default Re: 2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase

    I *think* I have a the parts finalized. Here are some screen shots and descriptions. Once I assemble and verify, I will post them up on thingiverse if anyone would like them.

    The stage will be H-bot/Core-XY based for its simplicity, accuracy, and compactness. There are many advantages to the CoreXY design, but its biggest disadvantage is that it doesn't do well with a lot of weight. The requirements for my build don't require any significant weight. Rigidity will be built in as part of the structure itself. The rods will mount end to end to the briefcase walls. They will be fixed with end mounts and then set-screw stops will be used to stiffen the rods. The biggest fail here would be not drilling the 2 holes perfectly at the same height. What, 2 holes? Yeah, only two because the back end of the rods will be mounted in the rear pulley holders.

    2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase-pulley_mounts-jpg 2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase-rod_mount-jpg

    I was going back and forth with the carriage design whether I wanted bearings, rollers, or as I mentioned above just teflon tape to reduce friction. I decided to place two holes in the carriage to which 3x5x3 bearings could be installed that would press against the inside of the aluminum C-channel. I also beefed the carriage up even more. I made it 30mm wide so that a 25mm fan or peltier could be installed flush against the laser heatsink. I also made sure there was room to run an aluminum tube down the side for an air assist and room on the top to mount the endstop switch. Though I am not settled on the placement of the switches yet. So, no holes. I can drill them to make them fit in a few different places. Always leave options!

    2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase-carriage-jpg

    I completely redid the guides (the part that rides on the rods for Y movement). I couldn't get them to print well before and realized I needed to go basic. They run the full depth of the aluminum channel, stick up 3mm above the channel for clearance of the pulleys, and I shortened the part that slides into the C-Channel so I didn't need to use as long of a piece of C-Channel. I will be mounting these with countersunk screws to the aluminum channel so the screws are flush and out of the way.

    2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase-guides-jpg

    The GRBL board allows for endstops at both extremes of the axis. I will most likely be taking advantage of that. Once I finally get this all installed, I can start sorting out the steps/mm and stepper current.

    I have ordered a dimmable LED driver capable of 2.1A. This will replace the driver in the laser diode. The dimmer works using either a 20K potentiometer between the two terminals or a 0-10V signal. I ordered an I2C DAC for the option of controlling the power with the GRBL shield, but in thinking about it, I will probably just install either a potentiometer or a rotary switch with a set of fixed resistors for manually setting it. There shouldn't be much need for varying the power of the laser during cutting. The diode current shouldn't exceed 1.9A, so there will need to be a resistor in series with the potentiometer to set the max current (when pot is 0ohm, the resistance will equal my resistor) This will be a multiturn trimmer pot for accuracy. I also picked up a Lasorb surge arrestor to protect against ESD. These diodes are extremely sensitive to that. I am crossing my fingers that I don't damage it removing the installed driver! But I need to be able to crank this thing down to safer levels when needed.

    As mentioned above, a camera and 7" LCD are coming. This will be the virtual window. Not really necessary part of the build, so I can still claim I did it under $300 Well, I have spent more than that already on this, but since I bought things I didn't end up using and had to buy some tools/supplies I didn't have prior, I still think I could claim under $300 even with the camera and monitor. The diode without the driver and with a three element lens instead of the G-2 can be gotten for about $60-80 instead of $125. And 3W is likely overkill, you could buy a 1W diode which is even cheaper still.

    The aluminum case actually takes a huge chunk of the price at $30. I really need to find a cheaper source or make a case from wood instead. If only I had a laser cutter. Oh wait! Yeah, I need to get back to my K40 upgrade soon.

    Tune in next time!



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    Default Re: 2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase

    I am too lazy to draw up all the staple parts into 3D models, so I realize it may be hard to visualize what I am talking about. Patience, my friends. There will be photos of the actual assembly soon and it will make perfect sense.

    I mentioned that the riskiest part was making sure that all the holes are lined up and at the same height for the rods. Well, I will be designing some jigs to help with that. Then I just place them inside the case on the floor and up against the wall and drill. This will ensure accurate hole placement. Another very useful purpose for a 3D printer or laser cutter!



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    Default Re: 2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase

    Quote Originally Posted by buddydog View Post
    By the way Retro i like "reading you ". Good fun here!

    You just love my 'scope creep!' I tend to get a bit unfocused in my personal projects and wander a bit as I explore new ideas. Sometimes it kills a build completely, but it does usually result in learning new things for next time. I am one of those that learn by doing. I can play with math and simulation all day, but it doesn't really sink in until I just take a hammer and duct tape it together and try it.

    Or it could be that we apparently both work in the aerospace field.



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    Default Re: 2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase

    Alright, I couldn't leave you guys with just that. Here are some of the parts assembled to give an idea of the final implementation:

    2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase-mini-blaze-014-jpg

    And this is a CoreXY stage (not mine). My version will be more compact and use the case as the main structure and I will be using 100lb spectra line instead of a timing belt.

    2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase-mini-blaze-010-jpg

    Support for the CoreXY is built into GRBL and Marlin (RAMPS 1.4) The control scheme is such that turning only one motor results in diagonal movement. Turning both motors in the same direction results in Y movement. Turning the motors in opposing directions moves the X axis.

    Lining up the pulleys is the most critical part of the platform, and even that doesn't need to be 100% perfect. Especially with the spectra line instead of belts.

    Last edited by Retroplayer; 01-06-2015 at 08:03 PM.


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    Default Re: 2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase

    Hey, us A-D-D people need to support each other! Think I'll go start a new hobby, back later... :-)



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    Default Re: 2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase

    Quote Originally Posted by buddydog View Post
    Hey, us A-D-D people need to support each other! Think I'll go start a new hobby, back later... :-)
    You can see one of my "tangents" in that picture. My old trusty Kawasaki 19.2V drill that has bad batteries after 8 years (the batteries cost more than a new drill.) I am converting it to a mini-lathe since I don't have a real lathe or the room for one. Its immediate purpose is for spinning the rods while I sand them smooth. I just need to build a supply for it and make a frame. It won't be accurate, but it will serve my simple needs for now.



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    Default Re: 2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase



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2W 445nm Diode laser cutter/engraver in a suitcase