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A CNC laser for about 100$ !

Discussion in 'Concepts and Ideas' started by Serge E., Dec 10, 2014.

  1. Serge E.

    Serge E. Master
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    Well, after the 100$ 3D printer, this had to happen : a 100$ laser "engraver" ... complete kit, shipped to your front door step ready to assemble and plug in. :rolleyes:

    It looks like 2 CD/DVD drive assemblies, the pre-cut acrylic pieces for the structure, a laser ("200-250 mW"), an Arduino, screws, cables, ... They email you the software (Windows or Mac OSx). You just supply computer and TINY pieces of easy to laser "engrave" (burn) material. With this kit, no need to dig through junk piles ...

    Work area is only about 1.5" x 1.5". But it could be your first step to working with a laser ... before hooking up higher power laser to your OX for some serious work (or damage !)

    Now, can a "200-250 mW" red laser do much engraving/lasing ? I don't know... so I ordered just the laser for hooking up to myOX and see. A much cheaper 'test' when you already have a CNC machine as your base.

    BEWARE : appropriate glasses should we worn at all times, no matter how 'weak' the laser may be. Your eyes are way too precious to get hit by a random reflection of any laser beam! Bystanders are to wear some as well !
     
  2. Rob Taylor

    Rob Taylor Veteran
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    Suitably focused, 250mW will do some decent charring of thicker materials and might cut clean through very thin stuff. It'll pop a balloon and light a match. It's not gonna be like those 1-2W "proper" laser diodes from micro projectors though.

    I see this was a month ago, any results?
     
  3. Serge E.

    Serge E. Master
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    I ordered and recently received two lasers from China. A basic "light your match" 5 mw ("1-200mw" ?!?) green laser which probably won't do much but become a pointer (maybe to help me manually line up myOX at 0,0,0) and a "200-250 mW" 650 nm laser which, as you said, should leave some mark on thicker material. I have a third in my wish list : a 450-500 mW violet Laser. In theory, that last one should do some 'damage'. I was also reading about how the laser from certain DVD burners could be used just as well as the first two, if not the third. So I 'rescued' a few abandoned DVD drives to eventually check their potential.

    Things kind of slowed on the DIY front at my end lately, so the laser stuff is on the shelf for now. Not to forget I'm waiting for some safety glasses to come in. My eyes are bad enough as they are now, last thing I need is to give myself laser eye surgery !
     
  4. Rob Taylor

    Rob Taylor Veteran
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    I believe that normal laser cutting materials tend to absorb more energy at lower wavelengths, so it may be that performance-wise, 1W 400nm = 800mW 550nm = 600mW 700nm, or something along those lines. A 2W far-red (but not quite infrared!) diode would be the best thing ever. :D

    Yeah, they sounded about DVD burner level. Perfectly fine for basic etching, and I've debated experimenting into their viability for a single-purpose laser vinyl cutter for decals and stencils and that kind of thing. So I'm definitely interested in seeing some experimental results whenever you find time. It would be nice to see if there was something out there for maybe $15 or so that could do that, though I haven't had time to look much into it myself yet.

    Good call on the glasses!
     
  5. Serge E.

    Serge E. Master
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    I'll definitely write up something as soon as I get around to testing out the lasers just received. The two ordered/received were less than 15$cnd (near 10$us these days). As tempted as I am to even just try them out by hand, I'm holding off for those glasses ... The catch is not wether I'm stupid enough to look directly at the beam or not, but if it bounces off something I didn't think of. They are not death rays, but why play with fire. The wait will make the tests even more eventful at least for me.
     
  6. Tweakie

    Tweakie OpenBuilds Team
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    Hi Rob,

    Laser cutting vinyl requires extensive fume extraction and other safety measures so, overall, it is best avoided. It can be done safely but I suggest that you perhaps research the subject in detail before trying it.

    Basically when PVC is vaporized by a laser it gives off Chlorine gas which will combine with the natural moisture in the air to produce a form of Hydrochloric acid - both of these products are harmful, not only to us but also to our machines.

    Tweakie.
     
  7. Rob Taylor

    Rob Taylor Veteran
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    Yeah, I'm aware of the chlorinated plastics problems in laser cutting. Definitely a topic to be concerned about.

    Hence why I'm trying to use very cheap hardware rather than risk extensive oxidative damage to expensive optics in a "real" cutter. I'd naturally also work on a solid ventilation system! I hear that there are low-PVC "vinyl" formulations for laser etching, but also that vector cutting (the only kind I'm interested in) releases very little gas. I just want to cut the peel'n'stick self-adhesive vinyl sheets, which are very thin, for model making rather than vehicular use. Not like cutting Sintra or something, but still pays to be on the safe side.
     

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