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  • home laser cutting

    It seems the need is arising for me to be able to laser cut materials at home- including steel and stainless steel, pc board materials, sheet of all kinds like paper, cardboard, plastics, balsa etc. There must be a legitimate desktop machine that can do this, I would expect. Has anybody had any good or bad experiences? What might be an optimum machine for home use? Or is there not such a thing-
    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

  • #2
    I don't think metal cutting is within reach of the home shop. I have a 40w cutter myself but I only do wood and plastics.

    There is a small waterjet on the market that will cut almost anything but the price tag is still over 20k and the table size smaller than my laser machine.
    Last edited by Noitoen; 10-01-2018, 02:45 AM.
    Helder Ferreira
    Setubal, Portugal

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    • #3
      Laser cutting of steel has been more expensive than waterjet. Our vendors stated that was due to the cost of consumables.

      That said, I know of a guy who built a laser cutting setup 6 years ago or so. We got prototype pieces from him at the consulting company, but he did not do steel, just other materials, plastic etc. We also got some parts from a label and sign outfit who also had a laser cutter that would do cardboard, paper, and various plastics.

      The common thread here is that there is a goodly gap between the cardboard and plastic cutting, and steel cutting. Mostly, I am told, issues of power, gas shielding, etc.
      CNC machines only go through the motions.

      Ideas expressed may be mine, or from anyone else in the universe.
      Not responsible for clerical errors. Or those made by lay people either.
      Number formats and units may be chosen at random depending on what day it is.
      I reserve the right to use a number system with any integer base without prior notice.
      Generalizations are understood to be "often" true, but not true in every case.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by J Tiers View Post
        Laser cutting of steel has been more expensive than waterjet. Our vendors stated that was due to the cost of consumables.
        I don't know much about laser cutting steel, but I am surprised by this. I had thought waterjet was fairly expensive to maintain due to having to rebuild the pump at regular intervals.
        I had steel laser cut a number of years ago and it involved mostly 14 gauge and thinner. He did it at a very reasonable cost. I had him do some 1/4" plate and he said never again

        This website gives the hourly cost of operating a waterjet, ranging from $20/hr to $45/hr depending on machine size. https://wardjet.com/waterjet/cost-to-run-a-waterjet
        Last edited by polaraligned; 10-01-2018, 09:01 AM.

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        • #5
          We were cutting 11 gauge, mostly, about 1/8 inch, for the laser. Waterjet more in the 14 ga area, at another place. So maybe not equivalent.

          Laser used a lot of gas, apparently, plus wear on the laser tube, which lasts only so long, so many hours (confirmed by the other guy).
          CNC machines only go through the motions.

          Ideas expressed may be mine, or from anyone else in the universe.
          Not responsible for clerical errors. Or those made by lay people either.
          Number formats and units may be chosen at random depending on what day it is.
          I reserve the right to use a number system with any integer base without prior notice.
          Generalizations are understood to be "often" true, but not true in every case.

          Comment


          • #6
            This is the only one I've seen that I could use at home.
            FabLight is the only high-performance and cost-effective industrial metal laser cutter and laser engraver for cutting sheets and tubes made in the USA.

            I think they are 60K to 110K for the 4500 Tube.
            Cuts only metal, no wood ,plastic etc.
            Larry
            Last edited by metalfixer; 10-01-2018, 11:36 AM.

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            • #7
              depending on what youre end results need to be, why not go with one of the desktop lasers for non-metals and a cnc plasma cutter for metals? that would be the cheapest and easiest for home shop.

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              • #8
                I've seen some YouTubes of folks modifying a 3D printer to a laser cutter for paper and vinyl and such. Apparently the sotware exists to create the gcode.

                Ed
                For just a little more, you can do it yourself!

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                • #9
                  You're going to make one?

                  1) its the resonator that goes on a laser, they can $50,000 to replace or more, but the fiber lasers don't have one.

                  2) waterjet cheaper than laser? that is nuts from a commercial sense, but might be true if you don't value or have to pay for time. To have job X done, WJ is way more expensive because it takes so long. Since no one has them in the home shop, the context is almost always commercial - what it costs to get done. the pecking order is plasma - laser - waterjet. You only go for the extra cost of waterjet if the material doesn't cut via laser or can't exposed to the heat of a laser That fact is there are few waterjets in the market and tons of lasers, a laser 3-5x the cost of a WJ, if water jet was cheaper, there'd be no lasers.

                  3) OP, I know a guy who home built a laser that cut out balsa wood plane parts and he went pretty major, powerful laser surplus. imo except for something light like that its not remotely possible as a diy for steel etc. WJ is more feasible perhaps.

                  Neither is really feasible as diy proposition imo.....but hey, take lots of pics . WJ are a lot cheaper to buy than lasers. They also make a heck of a mess, the abrasive gets in the air and covers everything
                  Last edited by Mcgyver; 10-01-2018, 12:16 PM.
                  in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dragons_fire View Post
                    depending on what youre end results need to be, why not go with one of the desktop lasers for non-metals and a cnc plasma cutter for metals? that would be the cheapest and easiest for home shop.
                    Laser cutters tend to be accurate to a few thou, waterjet to 0.015" or 0.02, and plasma seems to be 0.030" to 0.050, maybe on account of the kerf, based on what I have been told and have experienced from vendors. Distances based on parts around 1m long.
                    CNC machines only go through the motions.

                    Ideas expressed may be mine, or from anyone else in the universe.
                    Not responsible for clerical errors. Or those made by lay people either.
                    Number formats and units may be chosen at random depending on what day it is.
                    I reserve the right to use a number system with any integer base without prior notice.
                    Generalizations are understood to be "often" true, but not true in every case.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by J Tiers View Post
                      Laser cutters tend to be accurate to a few thou, waterjet to 0.015" or 0.02, and plasma seems to be 0.030" to 0.050, maybe on account of the kerf, based on what I have been told and have experienced from vendors. Distances based on parts around 1m long.
                      just not true. WJ and laser are comparable tolerances, couple of thou. Hi def plasma is suppose to be to 1/32"....but that often seems optimistic
                      in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mcgyver View Post
                        just not true. WJ and laser are comparable tolerances, couple of thou. Hi def plasma is suppose to be to 1/32"....but that often seems optimistic
                        And that may be theoretically true.

                        What we ACTUALLY GOT supports the statement I made.

                        Different vendors, different machines, different maintenance. The "order of precision" seems to be laser best, WJ behind that, and plasma a relatively distant third. And, the kerf size seems to agree with that. We had relatively narrow laser kerfs, WJ was wider, and plasma the widest.

                        Theoretical results and what you get from a machine, or vendor, do not necessarily line up together. We found that to be true. WJ has more mechanical maintenance items (but they are cheaper), and more chance of wear, with abrasive stuff being shot around the parts. WJ if not maintained closely will not give the results of laser, and may be that it does not get the maintenance, possibly because laser is more expensive and 'techie", so it is used by better shops and better personnel.
                        CNC machines only go through the motions.

                        Ideas expressed may be mine, or from anyone else in the universe.
                        Not responsible for clerical errors. Or those made by lay people either.
                        Number formats and units may be chosen at random depending on what day it is.
                        I reserve the right to use a number system with any integer base without prior notice.
                        Generalizations are understood to be "often" true, but not true in every case.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by metalfixer View Post
                          This is the only one I've seen that I could use at home.
                          FabLight is the only high-performance and cost-effective industrial metal laser cutter and laser engraver for cutting sheets and tubes made in the USA.

                          I think they are 60K to 110K for the 4500 Tube.
                          Cuts only metal, no wood ,plastic etc.
                          Larry
                          Chinese have also offerings on 30k usd range ie:


                          Probably good for about 5mm carbon steel or 2-3mm stainless steel. Fiber (semiconductor) laser just like fablight so operating cost's should be pretty low.

                          Still a bit expensive for home use
                          Location: Helsinki, Finland, Europe

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                          • #14
                            Omax has a new small model water jet available, 12" x 12" X-Y capacity. Thickness cutting capacity isn't readily available from their spec sheets.

                            $20K delivered with everything needed to cut your first parts, runs on 230V single phase, 30A.



                            For around $300 you can get a 4 watt diode laser kit complete to put on a mill (preferably CNC) to mark or cut thin wood, paper and plastics. I have one for use on my mill. Program as usual for 2D cutter paths. The contactor for mist coolant, M7, is used to turn on/off the laser. Edit the 2D Gcode so a G00 move to raise the cutter is changed to a turn off, a G01 feed to depth is changed to turn on laser. Power of laser, darkness of markings, is controlled by varying the feedrate.

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                            • #15
                              Not looking very promising. I see those desktop laser machines anywhere from $300 to $1000, none of which make any claim to be able to cut steel, and some of which claim only to be able to mark materials. I seem to recall that decades ago a 40 watt CO2 laser was claimed to be able to cut steel. Perhaps I'm wrong about that- it was a long time ago, and I would have thought that the technology would have progressed by now. Guess I'll just have to dig that neutron beam project out of the closet and get it working
                              I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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