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Laser Cutter for VERY Thin nylon material

Discussion in 'General Talk' started by acs963, Mar 6, 2017.

  1. acs963

    acs963 New
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    I am unfamiliar with laser cutting and need help / info on which laser to use to cut very thin Nylon material- Straight cut no CNC needed.

    Thanks
    Alton
     
  2. Jonathon Duerig

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    Nylon is another name for non-plasticized PVC. This material releases Chlorine gas when burned which corrodes anything it gets in contact with including the machine and your lungs. That means that laser cutting is probably the wrong fabrication technique for you.

    If you want to build your own CNC, then the tool you are probably looking for is called a 'drag knife'. You can get drag knives that will fit into your spindle. Don't actually turn the spindle on when using them (that is catastrophically dangerous). Instead, they use the bearing in the spindle to rotate as they cut through thin materials like nylon. Almost any CNC would be capable of using a drag knife.

    Depending on your needs, there are also a number of plug and play commercial machines. For small cutting, the Cricut and similar machines will do what you want. For large scale cutting, there are nylon cutting machines that are used for sign making.

    If straight cuts are all you need, there are many kinds of rotary or guillotine style cutters that can cut thin materials of all kinds (like paper or nylon).
     
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  3. Jonathon Duerig

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    Ack. I have to correct this. I got 'nylon' mixed up with 'vinyl' temporarily. The 'V' in PVC stands for 'Vinyl' and thin non-plasticized PVC is often marketed for sign-making under the name 'vinyl' although chemically speaking there is a big family of chemicals that are 'vinyls'.

    Polyvinyl chloride - Wikipedia

    But 'Nylon' is not PVC. So please disregard my chlorine warning above. I think a drag knife or other cutter might still work well depending on the thickness of nylon you are talking about. But a laser cutter might work as well.
     
  4. acs963

    acs963 New
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    Jonathan - Thanks for reply. The nylon edge must be heat sealed to prevent raveling so a rotary knife will not work. I currently use a Hsgm -0 Heatcutter on a handle on my Nylon. The new nylon is thinner and this cutter leaves a rough edge that i am trying to eliminate. I need help buying or building a laser for this operation. I will manually push it across the fabric.

    Thanks
     
  5. Jonathon Duerig

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    The way I'd do this is to get a linear actuator bundle from the OpenBuilds part store. They come in three sizes, so get the smallest size that still lets you have enough travel to cut the length you need.

    C-Beam™ Linear Actuator Bundle

    Then I'd get a diode laser driver set from J-Tech Photonics (or one of their competitors):

    3.8W Laser and 2.5amp Safety Compliant Driver Kit | J Tech Photonics, Inc.

    Then you'd want to get some makerlink and extrusion from OBPS to make an enclosure/housing skeleton. You'd get the shielded acrylic from j-tech photonics as a skin to protect everything outside from lasers or refracted lasers.

    Almost any driver/controller would work for the stepper motor on the actuator. G-Shield or xPro or anything. You would have a one-axis CNC machine.

    You make a custom mounting plate to mount the laser onto the linear actuator (plate could be made of plastic or anything). And design the plate so that you can manually adjust the laser up and down to find the right focus distance. You make sure there is a small gap underneath the linear actuator body so that you can slide your nylon sheets through and under it.

    The reason why you want this to be programmable is that you want to be able to find and consistently apply the same speed and passes over your material to cut. You can lock these setting in with some experimentation to find the best way to cut the nylon. And even if it has to be a slow speed or a lot of passes, you can set the machine going and let it do its thing rather than trying to be consistent by hand. Once you've figured out the right settings, you just have a very simple program to feed into your simple 1-axis machine every time you want to cut your nylon.

    I've done something similar to create a custom glass grinder that was capable of making glass mitres that couldn't be done by local commercial glass shops.

    All told, this is a fair chunk of time, effort, and money. But it is much cheaper than buying a commercial laser system for your specialized needs.

    -D
     
  6. Jonathon Duerig

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    I just thought of another possibility. You want a heat sealed end. Do you know what temperature you need? Cutting with a knife and then using a heat gun with the proper setting on the edge might work well.

    Also, my experience with laser cutters is that they wouldn't work well controlled by hand. Too fast and you don't cut the material. Too slow and you end up with reflected charring and heat distortion on the edge and possibly a fire. However, my above suggestion could work either as a very simple 1-axis CNC (with lead screw, motor, controller) or as a simple way to hand guide a cutter (subtract lead screw, motor, controller).
     
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