…a new CO2 Laser cutter / engraver.

by Stephen Hobley on November 26, 2012

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Wow, been a long time since I posted about anything. I thought it was about time I wrote about something new.

I recently acquired all the parts for a laser cutter – although I was running an 80W tube from the BlackToe gantry I found that the two machining techniques were at odds with each other, and the laser needed an environment all of its own. Luckily I had enough stuff left over from my first CNC gantry – the Bluumax – to build a new X/Y table.

Patrick (www.buildyourcnc.com) and I have been talking about laser cutters for a while now – we both thought that putting the tube into the gantry itself was a sensible thing to do, since you would only need to align one axis.

Quite proud of these adjustable motor mounts – came to me in a flash of inspiration:

Here are some movies showing progress, alignment, and “first light”:

…and the finished engraving – about 1mm deep, lowest laser power, 1/4 baltic birch. The flashes of light seem to be where the toolpaths cross. Not entirely sure why this happens. Anyone know?

Update – check out this neat test for laser “tramming” – making sure it’s truly perpendicular – http://www.machsupport.com/forum/index.php/topic,23037.msg162437.html#msg162437

And I’ll say it one more time to be sure –
KEEP EVERYONE ELSE OUT OF THE ROOM AND WEAR THE CORRECT EYE PROTECTION WHEN YOU DO THIS!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

John redman November 29, 2012 at 2:08 am

Regarding flashes of light where tool paths cross… I hear you focus beam at the top of the material. Plasma forms and burns through the material with laser keeping the plasma “falling” thought the material and air assist clearing smoke. When tool path crosses the second beam pass isn’t properly focused because material is 1-2 mm lower. Also something to do with wood being charred. It is harder for the cut to get started so the laser just reflects and becomes “visible”. Something like tat is what my laser vender explained to me when I visited their factory.

Daniel July 30, 2013 at 1:23 pm

awesome work.
Liked the idea of attach the laser tube on the X axis.
I’m just wondering to attach a laser tube like you did.
If you could help me .. Is the Z axis used? Is there any focus problem?
Or should I just simply mirror the laser beam and point it to the material? wich I could use a 80-100W CO2 laser and cut up to 10mm.

Thanks in advance and congrats for the inventiveness

Sebastian August 16, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Oh what Daniel is asking interests me as well.

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