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    Junior Member Sniperpirate's Avatar
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    Default Laser Advice

    Hello,

    This is my first post so please excuse the basic questions.

    I need to cut two types of materials so they can be different technologies if needed.

    1st is to cut acrylic 3mm - 5mm thickness
    cutting bed needs to be around A3-A1 (min requirement)
    I have looked at normal plotter lazer for this task

    2nd is to cut paper/card/glitter (80gsm-400gsm)
    cutting bed needed for A4 (min requirement)
    I have looked as galvo laser for this task

    I am based in UK

    I am looking for the equivalent of trotech and epilog from cheaper manufacturers as the high end branded machines are out of my budget at the moment.

    Thank you for help.



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    Default Re: Laser Advice

    Hi and welcome to the forum.

    That would depend on the type of products you intend to make, the level of precision they require, whether or not it is acceptable the paper products to have dark edges and of course your budget.

    For the first machine (acrylic) you will have to decide do you need RF laser and SERVO drive system or DC/STEPPER would be fine. RF/SERVO will give you a better edge quality but at a much higher price point.

    For the second (paper) the main question would be, could you accept dark (burned) edges? If yes, then you won't need a separate machine for that. If no, then you need a GALVO machine, preferably with an RF laser source. You may also consider adding a parallax camera for more convenient positioning of the material.



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    Junior Member Sniperpirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Storen View Post
    Hi and welcome to the forum.

    That would depend on the type of products you intend to make, the level of precision they require, whether or not it is acceptable the paper products to have dark edges and of course your budget.

    For the first machine (acrylic) you will have to decide do you need RF laser and SERVO drive system or DC/STEPPER would be fine. RF/SERVO will give you a better edge quality but at a much higher price point.

    For the second (paper) the main question would be, could you accept dark (burned) edges? If yes, then you won't need a separate machine for that. If no, then you need a GALVO machine, preferably with an RF laser source. You may also consider adding a parallax camera for more convenient positioning of the material.
    Sorry for the late reply,

    I cannot post directly from https://www.cnczone.com/ and instead using https://en.industryarena.com/ which has a delay between the two in regards to the posts syncing.

    Thank you for your information Storen.

    The paper machine is more important so I think we will purchase that one first. We want to produce the best quality possible so any dark or charred edges won't be acceptable. Do you know if CO2 lasers are capable of cutting glitter cardstock? If so, does the metal not reflect the beam in different directions?

    Also, would some sort of jig for positioning the material and a laser trace be a better option than the camera? Since we will try to keep the materials being cut almost identical in size.

    We have been looking at GBOS Laser, Argus / Sunic Laser, Golden Laser, Perfect Laser & MORN.

    We are currently trying to contact these suppliers/manufacturers - does anyone here know if they are any good or has other recommendations for different companies? Or any sort of systematic approach to finding out who has the best quality machine?

    Thank you



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    Default Re: Laser Advice

    Have you thought of using a plotter style cutter to cut the card stock and paper?? Unless you are getting into highly detailed cuts I would thing it would work just fine.



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    Quote Originally Posted by jreynolds5 View Post
    Have you thought of using a plotter style cutter to cut the card stock and paper?? Unless you are getting into highly detailed cuts I would thing it would work just fine.
    Thanks for the input.

    We currently use plotter based cutters but want to upgrade to a machine which is faster and can cut detailed cuts consistently with very good accuracy.

    Are there any Chinese companies you could recommend which manufacture galvo lasers comparable to western companies but for a much cheaper price?

    Thank you.



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    Default Re: Laser Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Sniperpirate View Post
    We currently use plotter based cutters but want to upgrade to a machine which is faster and can cut detailed cuts consistently with very good accuracy.
    Interesting. What kind of plotter you currently have? Can you show some pictures?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sniperpirate View Post
    Do you know if CO2 lasers are capable of cutting glitter cardstock? If so, does the metal not reflect the beam in different directions?
    I doubt that would be a problem but to be certain you could send the factory a sample from the coated paper and ask them to cut it for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sniperpirate View Post
    Also, would some sort of jig for positioning the material and a laser trace be a better option than the camera? Since we will try to keep the materials being cut almost identical in size.
    Of course, in this case, using a jig would be better. Adding a camera makes sense if you have to work with a lot of different sizes and change them frequently. Or if you intend to cut printed paper and want to align the cut path to the graphics. However, for that, you will need a coaxial camera system with graphics recognition software which is quite expensive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sniperpirate View Post
    recommendations for different companies? Or any sort of systematic approach to finding out who has the best quality machine?
    The problem comes from that it is very easy to build a basic galvo machine with standard off-the-shelf components. Probably you could do it yourself if you buy the parts. The basic galvo machines have a much simpler construction and are easier to make than a typical gantry machine. That is why most Chinese assembly factories will be eager to offer their services in order to get the sale even if they don't have any experience in this specific type of equipment (for cardstock). Additionally, when buying from China there is always the risk of getting a machine built with defective or refurbished parts, which of course are much cheaper and the Chinese market is flooded with them. Unfortunately even large, "reputable" Chinese companies do that all the time. Calibration is another huge issue. It is extremely important for the galvo machines in particular. Most factories don't have qualified technicians to do this beyond setting the most basic parameters. Usually, they will let you deal with the rest yourself and if you haven't done it in the past it could be quite frustrating. It is very difficult to asses a factory by just communicating with their sales reps. Most of them are technically illiterate and not always honest. Visiting the factory in person and inspecting the equipment is better but sometimes it is not possible. I am not writing this to scare you but to give you an idea about some of the typical problems when buying from China.

    When selecting a factory the most important things would be reputation and expertise. If I have to purchase a paper cutting machine I would start with Wuhan Golden Laser. They are one of the most reputable Chinese manufacturers and have a ton of experience in this area. They make only equipment for mass production and presumably use the most reliable technology. I don't know how their prices compare to the others but I suspect they may be significantly higher. Have you received a quote from them yet? I am very curious about what kind of controllers and RF generators they use?

    The ZJ(3D)-9045TB model looks ideal for your needs (image attached).
    This is a link to a youtube video for the others in the form who might be interested -

    Laser Advice-zj-3d-9045tb-jpg

    Last edited by Storen; 02-08-2019 at 02:07 PM.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Storen View Post
    Interesting. What kind of plotter you currently have? Can you show some pictures?
    We use knife based plotters at the moment but would not recommend them for any sort of large production work - hence why we are looking for a scalable option to grow with the business.

    Quote Originally Posted by Storen View Post
    I doubt that would be a problem but to be certain you could send the factory a sample from the coated paper and ask them to cut it for you.
    I am planning to send the factories samples but due to the Chinese new year, our communications have stopped until their employees are back to work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Storen View Post
    Of course, in this case, using a jig would be better. Adding a camera makes sense if you have to work with a lot of different sizes and change them frequently. Or if you intend to cut printed paper and want to align the cut path to the graphics. However, for that, you will need a coaxial camera system with graphics recognition software which is quite expensive.
    I will ask the factories how much it would cost for a camera system to be installed, if possible at all. I remember reading from one company they were not able to house the additional components needed due to the lack of physical space in the chassis.


    Quote Originally Posted by Storen View Post
    The problem comes from that it is very easy to build a basic galvo machine with standard off-the-shelf components. Probably you could do it yourself if you buy the parts. The basic galvo machines have a much simpler construction and are easier to make than a typical gantry machine. That is why most Chinese assembly factories will be eager to offer their services in order to get the sale even if they don't have any experience in this specific type of equipment (for cardstock). Additionally, when buying from China there is always the risk of getting a machine built with defective or refurbished parts, which of course are much cheaper and the Chinese market is flooded with them. Unfortunately even large, "reputable" Chinese companies do that all the time. Calibration is another huge issue. It is extremely important for the galvo machines in particular. Most factories don't have qualified technicians to do this beyond setting the most basic parameters. Usually, they will let you deal with the rest yourself and if you haven't done it in the past it could be quite frustrating. It is very difficult to asses a factory by just communicating with their sales reps. Most of them are technically illiterate and not always honest. Visiting the factory in person and inspecting the equipment is better but sometimes it is not possible. I am not writing this to scare you but to give you an idea about some of the typical problems when buying from China.

    When selecting a factory the most important things would be reputation and expertise. If I have to purchase a paper cutting machine I would start with Wuhan Golden Laser. They are one of the most reputable Chinese manufacturers and have a ton of experience in this area. They make only equipment for mass production and presumably use the most reliable technology. I don't know how their prices compare to the others but I suspect they may be significantly higher. Have you received a quote from them yet? I am very curious about what kind of controllers and RF generators they use?

    The ZJ(3D)-9045TB model looks ideal for your needs (image attached).
    This is a link to a youtube video for the others in the form who might be interested -

    Laser Advice-zj-3d-9045tb-jpg
    I contacted Wuhan Golden Laser a few weeks ago and they gave me some more information. The components they use include a 150w German Rofin Tube, Scanlab galvo head, Japanese servo motor and USA lens.

    Does anyone here know the cost of these components separately? I tried to research but it was very difficult to get the prices of them without contacting the manufacturing companies directly since they don't make them publicly accessible.

    They also include the chiller and a dual exhaust I think but haven't confirmed this.

    Also, the machine comes with a motorised Z axis, so am i correct in assuming the larger the cutting area would decrease the quality of the cut due to the dot size increasing?



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    Default Re: Laser Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Sniperpirate View Post
    The components they use include a 150w German Rofin Tube, Scanlab galvo head, Japanese servo motor and USA lens.
    Ok, so they quoted you the most expensive possible configuration. What is the total cost? As far I know Rofin doesn't make laser sources (tubes). They probably mean Coherent which are made in the US. You may be fine with a much less powerful (less expensive) generator if you use a lens with smaller spot size.
    Scanlab is undisputedly the most reputable brand but the Chinese galvanometers are actually pretty good and cost like 10-20% of the price of Scanlab. Ronar lens are excellent and also a fraction of any lens made in the US.
    Do they mean the servo driving the belt? It is probably Yaskawa or Panasonic. I doubt you need that at all since you intend to work only with small size paper.
    What kind of controller/software do they use? The software they show in the video doesn't look familiar. I am curious if they have developed their own.
    Depending on the wattage of the laser you may not need liquid cooling (chiller).
    Do you know what exactly do they mean by dual exhaust?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sniperpirate View Post
    Also, the machine comes with a motorised Z axis, so am i correct in assuming the larger the cutting area would decrease the quality of the cut due to the dot size increasing?
    The spot size would depend on the lens used not on the method of driving the Z axis. Manual focus (Z) would probably be OK in your case. Smaller focal spot size will allow you to cut more intricate details and would also increase the penetration power of the laser beam. You can have multiple lenses and switch them depending on the application but keep in mind when selecting a lens you'll also need to consider the depth of field of the lens.



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    Junior Member Sniperpirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Storen View Post
    Ok, so they quoted you the most expensive possible configuration. What is the total cost?
    This is what I was thinking too. They quoted me $35k.

    Quote Originally Posted by Storen View Post
    As far I know Rofin doesn't make laser sources (tubes). They probably mean Coherent which are made in the US. You may be fine with a much less powerful (less expensive) generator if you use a lens with smaller spot size.
    I was contemplating a less powerful laser source too - but I did not want to compromise on the speed of the cuts much. The lowest source on their spec sheet is a 100W. Hopefully, they are willing to show me the difference between both power sources and if it has an impact on the cut time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Storen View Post
    Scanlab is undisputedly the most reputable brand but the Chinese galvanometers are actually pretty good and cost like 10-20% of the price of Scanlab. Ronar lens are excellent and also a fraction of any lens made in the US.
    Thanks for the information.

    Do you know of any Chinese brands who manufacture high-quality galvanometers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Storen View Post
    Do they mean the servo driving the belt? It is probably Yaskawa or Panasonic. I doubt you need that at all since you intend to work only with small size paper.
    What kind of controller/software do they use? The software they show in the video doesn't look familiar. I am curious if they have developed their own.
    Depending on the wattage of the laser you may not need liquid cooling (chiller).
    Do you know what exactly do they mean by dual exhaust?
    This information I am not clear on either, hopefully, they can answer them for me when we resume our communications after the new year.

    The servo they wrote: It adopts servo controlling motor for moving at every corner, ensure the whole area working smoothly; so I am guessing they mean for controlling the mirror to direct the beam?

    Do you know what laser wattage would not need liquid cooling?

    With regards to dual exhaust, I think they mean vacuum absorbs from two different areas at the same time to solve the issue with the fumes created during the cutting process.



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    Default Re: Laser Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Sniperpirate View Post
    They quoted me $35k.
    Actually, 35K sounds like a good price for this configuration.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sniperpirate View Post
    Do you know of any Chinese brands who manufacture high-quality galvanometers?
    Sino and Sunny are the main brands. I am more familiar with Sino. Their top model is SG7220. It is designed specifically for the Western market to compete with Scanlab.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sniperpirate View Post
    The servo they wrote: It adopts servo controlling motor for moving at every corner, ensure the whole area working smoothly; so I am guessing they mean for controlling the mirror to direct the beam?
    All galvo heads use servo motors and since the one they quoted is Scanlab I assume it should be built with German parts. I think they mean the belt that moves the material left-right. The motion has to be very precise to avoid seams.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sniperpirate View Post
    Do you know what laser wattage would not need liquid cooling?
    Not sure.



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    Default Re: Laser Advice

    Maybe I’m missing something, but to cut 3mm acrylic and cardstock a 50W CO2 laser would work just fine.

    I make stuff from paper and cut it quite effectively with a 6W diode laser.

    Glitter is metallicised plastic and would not offer any resistance (and thus reflection) to a moderately-powered CO2 laser.

    Do you want roll-fed media? How large a bed do you want?



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