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cnc laser engraver for logos and whatnot, what should I get?

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  • #16
    It's back to exactly what you want to do with the laser. I actually work for a company that's primary product is laser systems for the micro machining industry, though our machines start at about $500k, lol.

    If you are going to try to stick a laser on a plasma table you are going to be in for a decent amount of work. Assuming you go with a CO2 laser you could mount the tube/head on the moving gantry and use flying optics to bring the beam down to the work surface. Ideally you want to have the beam path enclosed to keep the dust off the optics, this can be done with bellows.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by macona View Post
      It's back to exactly what you want to do with the laser. I actually work for a company that's primary product is laser systems for the micro machining industry, though our machines start at about $500k, lol.

      If you are going to try to stick a laser on a plasma table you are going to be in for a decent amount of work. Assuming you go with a CO2 laser you could mount the tube/head on the moving gantry and use flying optics to bring the beam down to the work surface. Ideally you want to have the beam path enclosed to keep the dust off the optics, this can be done with bellows.


      After some reading and learning over awhile now I am not expecting to much from a laser. I would love to have the ability, even with having to coat the metal with a paint or the like, to be able to etch or mark metal. To be able to cut thin plastics, mark/burn wood, mark/burn plastic, etc would be plenty. Even the cutting of plastic isn't all really needed. Just the ability to mark materials would be nice.
      Andy

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      • #18
        If you want to mark metal without using something that coats you will have to get a dpss or fiber laser system, and if all you are doing is marking and in a small field you want a galvo based system. But if you want to cut plastics at all you need a CO2 laser. So that puts you into one of the cheaper co2 systems.

        If you can find a used epilog or universal laser I would jump on that over a chinese unit anyday. They use RF excited lasers which are so much better and have about 10x the life of the glass chinese tubes. The software is also a lot better. Otherwise if you go chinese they are all pretty much the same.

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        • #19
          Maybe get a waterjet machine for $5000:

          https://www.aliexpress.com/item/abra...a-ac8efd4d5986

          http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
          Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
          USA Maryland 21030

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          • #20
            Originally posted by PStechPaul View Post
            Maybe get a waterjet machine for $5000:

            https://www.aliexpress.com/item/abra...a-ac8efd4d5986


            Honestly that is another "attachment" I possibly plan for the plasma table some day. Again nothing fancy but I read some stuff about using a good head with a power washer pump. Not going to cut anything wonderful but will still cut a surprising amount.

            My ultimate plan is to have the plasma cutter, possibly laser, router, vibrating plate marker, sharpie paint marker, and maybe the waterjet attachments to use on my existing table. The router attachment is the first one I plan to build, probably this winter. I just keep seeing these other attachments pop up so I get excited about them and have to ask.


            The laser always gets me though when I start looking into them. Macona I really appreciate your very knowledgeable input! Just when it comes to electronics I am a bit lost. Seeing these tiny $300 40w laser machines I always assumed the laser itself couldn't be much more than a 4x4" head with just a power cable plugged into it. I was hoping I could just get the small head, stick it on the gantry, wire it up to a relay and go to town. But it seems this isn't the case. I always initially just do ebay searches because it gives a good idea what parts can be had and what pricing on things are in one place. But doing some "fiber laser" searches doesn't bring up a whole lot for 'just lasers'. I am assuming a fiber laser is a power supply, the fiber cable, then a head that would sit on the gantry?

            Sorry for the stupid, probably repeated questions. I learn by repetition.
            Andy

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            • #21
              I have a 2.8 watt diode laser on my CNC mill, J-tech Photonics.

              It'll mark aluminum...sort of. Buy cheap powder coating material from HF. Sprinkle on the area to be marked. Run the laser over it. The powder seems to bond to the aluminum. What I don't know is how tightly bonded it is, at least bonded enough that scraping with a finger nail can't remove it.. Nice in that it allows different colors of markings.

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              • #22
                Hey...thats a good idea I never thought of...Kind of like a "silkscreen". I'm guessing you can move pretty quick and get a fairly sharp line.
                I too strapped a cheap Banggood 5 watt diode on my shapeoko router. did some customization on my business cards. I put a scrap of steel plate on the MDF wasteboard, and after less then half a dozen cards...the image was marked on the steel plate. I'm thinking it is the smoke from the burning of the paper right up against it that is marking it, but it doesnt rub off. And even a light scuffing with scotchbrite didnt remove it. Its also not as crisp as you would want a lasered mark to be, so not any kind of technique being recommended here. I like that powdercoat idea though, and will have to give it a try.
                I also got a 15watt banggood diode laser, and did get one of those Chinese 40watt co2 units, but havent got it setup yet. It does seem to be the consensus that it needs lots of modification to be "usefull".

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                • #23
                  No, the laser in the 40 watt units is a glass tube about 2 feet long and water cooled. High voltage dc is passed through it and out comes your beam from the end. You steer this with coated silicon mirrors to the work where you have a ZnSe lens. You can get chinese tubes and power supplies locally (US) from Light Object.

                  Fiber lasers are expensive. There are chinese manufacturers but they are still significantly more expensive than a CO2 laser. They are much more complicated than a CO2 laser, they use series of diode pump lasers to pump the fiber which is the gain material, that is where the power is amplified. So you have a box with a permanently mounted fiber that terminates into a collimation lens assembly which you can couple into your cutting head.

                  Here is an example: https://www.ebay.com/itm/IPG-Photoni...Ea~r:rk:2:pf:0

                  You also have to be much more careful with a fiber laser. They operate in the near infrared range and are much more dangerous to the eyes. With CO2 the beam will stop on your cornea which can be repaired. Fiber laser will go straight to your retina which means instant, permanent eye damage. So these systems absolutely need to be in a light tight enclosure, even the reflection while cutting is enough to cause eye damage. This applies to the cheap diode laser systems that are sold as well. Extremely dangerous. I have 3 or 4 pairs of different laser goggles in my toolbox for all the different wavelengths we work with.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by macona View Post
                    No, the laser in the 40 watt units is a glass tube about 2 feet long and water cooled. High voltage dc is passed through it and out comes your beam from the end. You steer this with coated silicon mirrors to the work where you have a ZnSe lens. You can get chinese tubes and power supplies locally (US) from Light Object.

                    Fiber lasers are expensive. There are chinese manufacturers but they are still significantly more expensive than a CO2 laser. They are much more complicated than a CO2 laser, they use series of diode pump lasers to pump the fiber which is the gain material, that is where the power is amplified. So you have a box with a permanently mounted fiber that terminates into a collimation lens assembly which you can couple into your cutting head.

                    Here is an example: https://www.ebay.com/itm/IPG-Photoni...Ea~r:rk:2:pf:0

                    You also have to be much more careful with a fiber laser. They operate in the near infrared range and are much more dangerous to the eyes. With CO2 the beam will stop on your cornea which can be repaired. Fiber laser will go straight to your retina which means instant, permanent eye damage. So these systems absolutely need to be in a light tight enclosure, even the reflection while cutting is enough to cause eye damage. This applies to the cheap diode laser systems that are sold as well. Extremely dangerous. I have 3 or 4 pairs of different laser goggles in my toolbox for all the different wavelengths we work with.


                    I'd definitely get some suitable eyewear if I got a laser.
                    Andy

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