2012 UPDATE: Check out the new laser cutter I built from scratch here -> New 24×18″ CO2 Laser
Since building the CNC router last year I’ve become increasingly interested in adding a laser cutting/engraving head.
Scanning eBay I found lots of component parts, but I did not have the expertise to create a working system. In situations like this I’ve found the best thing to do is buy an inexpensive “complete” system and use this to discover how things work – eventually the goal being to use the technology in something bigger and better.
Although not a huge amount of information available online – I was able to find two websites (both UK-based) that had some information on the units:
Andy Slater – bought one and converted it to run with Mach3 (something I may well be doing in time)
Lindsay Wilson – documents some extensive modifications made to improve the basic design.
After reading both sites it was clear that the unit would not function “out of the box” and some pretty comprehensive cleaning, modding and adjustment would be required before I switched it on.
Despite all this, I decided to take the plunge and order one.
After a couple of weeks it arrived in two boxes…
The tracking number that was supplied was 10 digit – these do not track using the conventional UPS tracking page, you have to select “Track By Reference” on the UPS page and enter in as much information as you have. Then you will see the true UPS tracking number along with the package information.
The smaller one contained the software, extractor, honeycomb table, water pump, lamp and documentation.
The larger contained the unit itself.
It’s about 18Kg and rather cumbersome, it took quite a long time to remove the back packaging. While I was doing it, a couple of screws fell out and a silver knob (this would be the first of many) – so be ready to catch these things!
The reason that the unit is so large is that the CO2 laser tube runs all the way along the back. “Flying” mirrors redirect the beam onto the focusing head.
One thing to stress is that these units are designed to run on a 240V supply, if you wish to run it on 110V you need a step-up transformer. Luckily this was one of the first things I bought when I first moved from the UK to the US. The vendor can provide you with one at an additional charge.
Tomorrow I’ll be examining the unit, and fixing whatever needs to be fixed before switching the laser on for the first time.