Homebuilt laser cutter pictures

Hi all,
We have built a computer controlled C02 laser for cutting and engraving.
Thought some of you may be interested to have a look.
http://www.theblakelaser.com /
Any comments are welcome.
Cheers, Tony
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"Tony Burch"

Nice work, out of curiosity, where and how much did you pay for the laser head?
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Hi, the laser I used was a secondhand one that I bought from a private seller, who removed it from some old scrapped medical equipment. I paid a couple of thousand Australian dollars. This was a one-off, but you may be able to find someone on the net who is selling second hand lasers. If you want a new one, maybe try http://www.synrad.com / Does anyone else know suppliers of second-hand or new lasers? Cheers, Tony

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and for those with more time than money http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/sam/lasercc2.htm
--
Using Opera's revolutionary e-mail client: http://www.opera.com/mail /

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Thats most excellent! I want one! Are you gonna suplpy any info to help others build their own? Have you cut any metal with it yet?
-Hoss
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Hi Hoss, thanks for your kind comment. I'm definitely want to put up more technical details on the web page. Since this is a hobby project, I'm somewhat time limited, so it may take a while. I just thought that initially I would put up as many photos as possible, showing most of the details of construction. I haven't successfully cut metal yet. Doesn't seem to cut aluminium or galvanised steel, but does cut acrylic/perspex and polystyrene foam. Cheers, Tony
wrote

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Can you cut aluminum?
I think it would be cool to set up the machine online. Allow people to pay you with paypal, then they send you CAD drawings, the computer and cutter make the part, and you mail it to them.
I set up a system like this for making PCB's and the community college electronics class used my machine to manufacture some of their projects.
Rich
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Guys like Bruce Filener, at filener.com, and Jim Frye at Lynxmotion already offer these kinds of services. Not sure how successful the venture has been. I know in my experience (I run a CNC rig myself, as I believe you do) most people misunderstand the technical requirements of the CAD drawing. The 0,0 coordinate origin is wrong, they use layers in some strange way, they include the dimensions as part of the drawing, they produce the drawing using some odd scale, or the drawing is out of order, and the wrong things cut first. (This is more of a problem for mechanical routers than laser cutters, but it can still affect the accuracy of a laser cut.)
In one picture on Tony's site the Class IV label clearly shows the power output is max 100W, though this may or may not be what this particular head can do, as the label looks like it might be generic. That should be enough for cut aluminum, though I wouldn't blame him if he didn't want to.
I like the water bucket for the beam stop. Seems perfectly suited for a 10 um beam.
-- Gordon
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Hi Gordon, thanks alot for your post. You are right that the laser sign that I put up was just a generic 100W one. My laser power is only about 20W.
Is it possible to cut or engrave aluminium with a 20W CO2 laser? I tried, but most of the laser power seems to be reflected from the surface of the aluminium. I'm still learning what can be done with the CO2 laser, through experimentation, research on the web, and advice from others.
What are the main issues or problems with cutting aluminium?
Thanks for your comment about my "beam stopper bucket":) Cheers, Tony
wrote:

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through
Hi Tony,
Firstly: good job :) I have been thinking of doing the same thing for a while and have accumulated some good parts including a 15W and a 45W CO2 laser (ebay, about AU$1000 for the lot). Could take a while until I get around to building the X/Y table though.
I would recommend not having the laser mounted vertically, as any junk (eg bits of electrode) will fall to the lower mirror and damage it. Use a gold front surface mirror (ebay) or a polished aluminium/copper plate to turn the beam.
I seriously doubt you will be able to cut even thin aluminium with that laser. Almost all the light will be reflected. I think you may be able to do laser marking though, but you will have to coat the aluminium first.
On the Synrad site they have a "laser calculator" program that may be useful. You select material to cut, thickness, and laser power, and it will tell you the expected cutting speed.
Daniel
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Tony Burch wrote:

As Daniel mentioned, a 20 watt CO2 laser is not sufficient to cut metal. At best you'd be able to "etch" it only lightly. So, this rig is pretty much for plastics and thin wood.
You have to be careful with metals anyway, especially aluminum, because as you noted the beam will reflect back into the laser, or against the lens or laser head. Damage to the laser can result. Some shops wigh higher wattage lasers will accept these jobs in order to get the work, but a lot of them refuse.
The ony thing about the water beam stop I wanted to mention is that there will be some specular reflection, even though the water will absorb a lot of the beam. Maybe work up a dark plastic chimney or pipe above the bucket to trap any light that is accidentally reflected off the water surface.
-- Gordon
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Hi.
Tony Burch escreveu:

Metal is really reflexive to the 10um wavelenght of the CO2 laser at normal temperatures. At high temperatures this changes and the metal can be cut. So, with a 20W laser you probably won't be able to do anything with metal. Steel is easier to cut than aluminium, and copper is very hard. If your optics aren't specified to work with metal (it must behave like an optical diode), you can even destroy the laser head. With 200W I've been able to cut thin sheets of metal (steel, can't remember the exact thickness). Organic materials are very responsive to the CO2 laser. Don't try to cut PVC also. It cuts really well, but the exaust gases contains Cl, and that bad for you, the optics and many other things.

Regards, Ricardo
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Hi Rich, thanks. I haven't been able to successfully cut aluminium. I am getting a reflection of the beam. A similar result with galvanised steel. Thanks for the online machine suggestion. Cheers, Tony

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Hi TMT, I'm going to put up more technical details on the website. Since this is a hobby project, I'm somewhat time limited, so it may take a while. I just thought that initially I would put up as many photos as possible, showing most of the details. I constructed the drive electronics for the stepper motors using bipolar transistors and a CPLD board for the step & direction decoding. I'm using Danplot software, which outputs signals to the parallel port. To turn the laser on and off, I currently have a microswitch attached to a stepper motor, which is the Z-axis motor. I will be changing this to a pulse width modulated or delta-sigma signal to the laser, for variable power. Cheers, Tony

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