My Laser Engraver and I

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StevenKiberton
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 9:19 pm

My Laser Engraver and I

Post by StevenKiberton » Mon Mar 16, 2015 8:06 pm

OK so a few months back I twisted the other half’s arm into letting me buy myself a CO2 Laser Engraver.
It took a while to persuade her because i had just spent £700 on a 3D Printer 6 weeks before.

So after a long talk and showing her just some of the things I could do with it she agreed and told me i had to work extra shifts to pay for it.

So I took the plunge and bought one for £2800 (I found a cheaper one.
The day after ordering I received an email to say the item had been shipped.
I was so excited but it was short lived.

When I logged onto my eBay account I saw that the item price was now £1799.
Just my luck.
I wasn’t happy at this point and contacted the seller and asked what they could do about it.

They gave me a number to call, so I did.
The lady I spoke to was very helpful and understood my frustration.

To cut a long story short. She spoke to someone else and they agreed to repay me the difference.
Later that day I received £1001 back into my PayPal.

When I received the payment back from them I went on a shopping spree and bought all sorts of material.
Plastic,
Perspex,
Trifoliate,

If I could cut it or engrave it, I bought it.

I didn’t tell Nicola (my other half) that they gave me £1001 back.
This gave me more money to spend on things to cut and engrave.

So two days after I received a few packages.
Luckily Nicola wasn't home when they arrived.

One of the packages was VERY large and I knew what that was straight away.
The other packages were the other bits and pieces that I had ordered.
I was happy they arrived together as this gave me the perfect excuse to say that they came with the laser engraver/cutter.

OK so I opened the smaller packages first and checked everything was OK.

I then started to open the largest package I have ever received.
It took a while to get it open as it was very thick cardboard, almost like wood.

So I got the laser open and checked to make sure everything was in there and that the glass co2 tube wasn't broken.

After an hour or so cleaning out the shed and moving things around everything was in place and ready to test.

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I had connected the unit to the PC.
I installed all the software and drivers.
I connected the extractor fan.
I attached the water pump and placed into a bucket of water.
I turned the pump on.
I turned the extractor unit on.
Then I turned the laser engraver on.

Then off it went.
It made its way to the home location and the display said it was ready.

Following the manual i turned on the unit and followed the steps to set all the motors and align the mirrors.
The unit has 4 mirrors, and 3 of them are adjustable mirrors that need to be aligned.

This was the hardest part to do as you had to move the number one mirror and test it.
If it wasn't aligned then you had to move it again, and again, and again until it was in the right place.
Then you had to align mirror number two and test it.
If it wasn't aligned then you had to move it again, and again, and again until that one was in the right place.
Then finally you had to do it again for the last mirror.
If it wasn't aligned then you had to move it again, and again, and again until it was in the right place.

I think you get the idea.
This was the hardest part and took a lot of time.
I had aligned all three mirrors as it showed but it just wouldn’t hit the last mirror, so i did a little search online and found that the laser co2 tube can be moved slightly.
So I had to do the whole process again.
After adjusting all the mirrors again it finally hit the last mirror and was done.

I carried on reading the manual and sure enough the LAST step said that if it doesn't align up you can adjust the co2 tube.

Anyway, it was finally done. The laser was ready.

At this point i had already got things going through my mind on what i could do with it.
So I fired up the software and it was SO easy to use.
Within 10 minutes it was printing and cutting the first part.

After the first part was finished I followed the steps in the manual to make sure everything was set correctly.
Made a few adjustments and tried again.

After making just three adjustments the prints were coming out perfect.

Cutting a 10mm x 10mm box measured perfectly.
A 100mm x 100mm box measured perfectly
I was happy happy happy.

So then I loaded up a few files I had created before and pressed print.
Within 5 minutes it was finished.

Since then I have just been printing and engraving with this fantastic machine.

I have tried all sorts of materials and with great results.
There are however a few that I cannot cut or engrave because they contain chlorine and they can damage metals and circuits.

So I hope you like the results, I’m currently uploading some videos to YouTube so you can see it in action.

Here are a few items that I have since made on the co2 Laser Engraver/Cutter.

Here is a plaque that someone asked me to make on Trifoliate,
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Here is a name on frosted clear Perspex.
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Here is the same name on Trifoliate,
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Here is a sample that i made to upload and show people what i can do. (hopefully get some business)
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Here is a iPhone stand that I cut all the parts and glued them together.
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And this was the same design as the iPhone stand but bigger for my android tablet.
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And here they are both together.
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Here is the product on MDF wood right after it printed.
This photo shows just two designs.
The top one is just the outline.
The bottom one is just the infill.
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As you can see with wood you get a little smoke that is stuck to the wood but it comes off with a little sanding as you will see below.
This photo shows the difference between the two.
The top is just a fine outline of the letters.
The bottom one is the infill and it burns the letters to leave a grove.
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So after a quick brush over with some 80 grit sandpaper this is what it looks like.
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Nice and clean and ready to go.
As you can see here the difference between the two.
You can see the bottom one has a few layers of wood missing.
If i wanted the letters to be deeper then I could do a few things.
The easiest is to raise the laser power to give it more punch.
I could also slow down the print speed.
Or I could just run the program again.
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Here is my best print so far.
This is my YouTube Logo.
I'm hoping to print a stand to hold some LED's to light it up.
Will post more photos later when I can.
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Here is a video that was made.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljbFH4WaZCM

Glytch
Posts: 26
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2015 8:55 pm
Location: Missouri, US
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Re: My Laser Engraver and I

Post by Glytch » Fri Mar 20, 2015 6:19 pm

Awesome awesome awesome!!! I've wanted a laser for quite some time. I've got my printer, and love it, but to make larger cases and things for projects, you almost cant beat the clean cuts and quickness of a laser cutter on plastic materials. And of course engraving is pretty neat too. I've had my eyes on a ~500 USD one on ebay from china, it claims its only for engraving, but I've seen someone with the same unit upgrade it with RAMPS electronics and upgraded the cooling and was able to get some more power and get it to cut plastics. It doesnt have a great build space tho. Whats the build space on yours? And the laser tube power? Love the stuff youve made so far, and I'm sure you can find plenty of businesses etc, locally that would pay a pretty penny for signs and other things made out of plastic and engraved. You could use the 3d printer to print a base and put LEDs in it, and put an engraved piece of acrylic in it, and have it light the engraved parts. So many things you could do with a laser cutter/engraver, and a 3d printer. Toss in a 4x8 CNC mill, with a 4th rotary axis, and the possibilities are pretty much limitless!
I make things, I break things, and cause all around chaos.
My Website: http://glytchtech.com
My Youtube: http://youtube.com/c/glytch

StevenKiberton
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 9:19 pm

Re: My Laser Engraver and I

Post by StevenKiberton » Sun Mar 22, 2015 1:49 pm

Glytch wrote:Awesome awesome awesome!!! I've wanted a laser for quite some time. I've got my printer, and love it, but to make larger cases and things for projects, you almost cant beat the clean cuts and quickness of a laser cutter on plastic materials. And of course engraving is pretty neat too. I've had my eyes on a ~500 USD one on ebay from china, it claims its only for engraving, but I've seen someone with the same unit upgrade it with RAMPS electronics and upgraded the cooling and was able to get some more power and get it to cut plastics. It doesnt have a great build space tho. Whats the build space on yours? And the laser tube power? Love the stuff youve made so far, and I'm sure you can find plenty of businesses etc, locally that would pay a pretty penny for signs and other things made out of plastic and engraved. You could use the 3d printer to print a base and put LEDs in it, and put an engraved piece of acrylic in it, and have it light the engraved parts. So many things you could do with a laser cutter/engraver, and a 3d printer. Toss in a 4x8 CNC mill, with a 4th rotary axis, and the possibilities are pretty much limitless!
This has a working area of 300x350mm so its not that big but is enough.
I like the fact that its quick.
The tube power is 50mA
I have made some changes to the unit like air assist etc.
I do like the idea of a 3S printed base for the acrylic sign though :)

Eric
Posts: 158
Joined: Fri Feb 21, 2014 4:52 pm

Re: My Laser Engraver and I

Post by Eric » Sun Apr 12, 2015 10:29 am

This is simply too cool! I wish I had one of these. I could see it being handy for a lot of projects.
I make videos and content on all things electronics, 3D prining and "Maker"
http://www.mkme.org
https://www.youtube.com/mkmeorg

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