February 28th, 2011 by bdring
The second generation open source laser cutter/engraver design from buildlog.net is complete. The new machine is called the Buildlog.net 2.x Laser. The name comes from the fact that this is the second generation machine and it is basically a 2 axis design. The third, vertical axis, is manually controlled with an optional upgrade to digital control. The 2.x Laser takes all the optimizations learned from the first laser and all the other lasers documented on buildlog.net forum.
The usable work envelope is just under 12” x 20” x 4”. The internal design has been optimized so the overall size of the machine is much smaller than the previous design and can easily fit on a small table. It is designed to work with 40W CO2 lasers sealed gas lasers. The frame is built from inexpensive 20mm aluminum T Slot extrusions and the skin is made from a painted aluminum and HDPE laminate.
The first major improvement is in the linear bearing system. The 2.x Laser uses Delrin V groove wheels running on V rails. The custom Delrin bearings are a lot cheaper and run smoother and quieter than the previous metal on metal system.
The next major improvement is in the electronics layout. All the primary electronic systems are contained in a simple electronics module. This has an interface PCB that makes wiring a simple 1:1 connection for each item. The module is removable so all assembly can be done outside the enclosure. The electronics are compatible with 3.3V or 5V control systems whether they are PC based like EMC2 or Mach3 or dedicated commercial or open source controllers.
The original laser attempted to be self replicating with regards to most of the fabricated parts. That limited the materials that could be used. The 2.x Laser drops that goal and concentrates on a more robust design with stronger metal parts. Shimming, drilling and tapping fragile parts is no longer required. The rest of the design was simplified wherever possible. There are less parts and many of the parts self align.
The design is completely open source with all drawings, schematics, BOMs (with sources and prices), 3D models, build instructions, software and Gerber files available. There are kits for anything that is not readily available for people who cannot fabricate their own. Due to the smaller size, the enclosure skins can now be fabricated on smaller home routers or can be purchased as a kit.