Archive for the 'Laser Cut Stuff' Category

Creating A Laser Post Processor

Virtually all CAM systems allow you to target different CNC machines through the use of a Post Processors (post).  Post Processors tailor the ouptut to the target machine.  While most machines can handle G-Code, each machine has it’s own requirements.  Many Post Processors are so flexible that you can even get them to output HPLG, DXF, and other vector based file formats.

Post Processor formats and rules vary between manufacturers, but the general procedure of creating a custom one is basically the same.  I will detail how I created a basic Mach3 E1P1 style post processor for my Vectric Aspire CAM program.  Aspire is way overkill for a laser, but this Post Processor will work for all the Vectric products including the more affordable CUT2D which is perfect for a laser.  Most CAM vendors will produce a guide for the post processor format.  I got the one for Vectric from their forum.

Most programs ship with many Post Processors.  Start with one that is closest to what you want.  In my case I picked a Mach2/3 Arcs (inch) post.  This targets Mach3, and uses arcs for curves instead of multiple line segments.  You should also create a simple CAM file to test.  I created one with a 1″ x 2″ rectangle and a 1″ diameter circle.  Both items are offset from home.  Locate the items on a simple grid so it is easy to find the items in the resulting G-Code.

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D.I.Y. Selective Laser Sintering

There is a  great Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) project being blogged at ReRap Builders by Peter Jansen.  Sintering is basically fusing powder by heating it just under the melting point.  SLS is 3D printing using a laser to selectivly heat the material.  It is done like most 3d printing, a thin layer at a time.  The nice thing about this method is that the surrounding powder supports the part as is is being built.

The current design is completely laser cut out of hardboard, even the gears.  The target price for a complete assembly is around $200.  The project is open source and design files are available on Thingaverse.

I recently had these nozzles made using SLS at Shapeways. The detail is amazing and while the part is only about 0.04 inch thick in most places, it is quite strong.

Sketchup Model Slicer

This is a handy Plug in for Google Sketchup.  It  slices a solid model so it can be cut on a laser cutter or router.  It is called SketchUp SliceModeler.  You can get it here.  It costs  EUR 10.

Here is a tutorial for using it.

Slice form

Laser Cut Stacks Of Money

Check out these laser cut stacks of money by tattoo artist Scott Campbell.  See more of his amazing art

It is an interesting effect.  If gives a real 3D look to it.  It appears that the cutout areas vary with depth.