Chooch's 3D printable laser cutter

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Chooch's 3D printable laser cutter

Postby thechoochman528 » Sat Aug 07, 2010 3:00 am

Where to begin... I work in the Aerospace industry designing and building spacecraft components, but have always wanted to get into the automotive aftermarket industry. This year I pledged to design and build 5 various automotive products and to achieve that, I needed rapid prototypes to develop them. I decided that constantly outsourcing SLS/SLA prints would get expensive. One day I stumbled upon the Makerbot 3D printer and instantly invested in one. Through trial and error I learned how to use it. It has since become an extremely powerful tool. To have a machine that can almost replicate anything opens up your world to many new ideas....or err distractions.

I decided to go after a record and increase the z-axis travel of the bot, as can be seen here:

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3533
http://wiki.makerbot.com/hall-of-fame

It brought the record to Chicago with the Willis tower. :)

I then wanted to expand the capabilities to use multi materials with the my Pfiercestruder design:
http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3635

And now I want to tackle the hardest endeavor, to complete the circle. Laser cutter makes Makerbot, Makerbot makes laser cutter, laser cutter makes more Makerbots.

Not to mention having a laser cutter at less than $1000 would be an extremely valuable tool and possibly a revenue generator.


So it begins, I found buildlog and someone graciously blazed the trail and designed an open source laser cutter. Score! Now all I had to do was build it, as I started going through the BOM and drawings I noticed I could print many of these parts out myself with my bot. So, I got right to modeling and printed two tube clamps. They came out great, even the holes.

Image
Image


As I continued through everything I made a spreadsheet, like most engineers do. I decided that 40-60% of the machine could be printed. Originally I was even going to print out my own Misumi type beams, but that would take an extremely long time and came up with the idea to do a threaded rod structure, which presents some design challenges but cuts the price of the frame from $200 to about $60.

All the timing belt pulleys, plates, connecting ends, tensioners can be printed... in theory.

Here is a screen shot of the cutter so far, some things are still a work in progress and things have been omitted for simplification. Sorry it's not bigger, I'll have to take new screenshots. The design has changed a little since this was taken too.

4867925910_9e4e172d1c_z.jpg
Official Image
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Re: Chooch's 3D printable laser cutter

Postby Tweakie » Sat Aug 07, 2010 5:54 am

Excellent - I look forward to following your build progress.

Tweakie.
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Re: Chooch's 3D printable laser cutter

Postby bdring » Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:53 am

That looks great Chooch. The quality of the that laser tube bracket looks fantastic. It is very inspiring for me to continue with my 3D printer idea.

I can see we are going to have a lot of machines with questionable parentage :D
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"If you didn't build it, you will never own it."
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Re: Chooch's 3D printable laser cutter

Postby wilson » Sun Aug 08, 2010 6:12 am

Looks very cool. I've been wanting to build a laser cutter for a while and I also have a makerbot. I've seen your other stuff over on thingiverse and it's very impressive, but I think you've outdone yourself this time. I hope you'll be posting the printable parts on thingiverse as you go, I think there will be a lot of poeple interested in this approach. Keep it up.
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Re: Chooch's 3D printable laser cutter

Postby thechoochman528 » Mon Aug 09, 2010 12:11 pm

bdring, I use a Makergear .35mm big head nozzle it helps get you a little bit more resolution. Haha yeah, the family tree is going to get weird.


wilson, thanks! Yes, i believe that this may be my ultimate contribution to the 3d printing community. I'm going to wait until its done, because I may have to redesign things and don't want others to struggle through the hardships that I will have to.


Already I found an issue in the design that may have to under go a drastic change.

It's difficult to take a design that uses awesome Misumi beams to threaded rod, you lose a lot of flexibility when attaching things to it.

Although, I did test print a beam and I think it would work. I may have to revist that idea for certain parts of the machine.
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Re: Chooch's 3D printable laser cutter

Postby bdring » Mon Aug 09, 2010 12:31 pm

One issue with lasers is that the movements need to be extremely straight. Unlike a mill or printer where the inaccuracies are directly proportional to the output, a laser magnifies the problems along the length of the beam a little change in a mirror will be way off when it finally gets to the work piece.

Another issue you may face is rigidity. The head can move and reverse quite quickly when cutting light material or engraving. The machine needs to be rigid and heavy enough to resist this. Even the table you put it on can show signs of shaking at certain speeds and oscillation frequencies.
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Re: Chooch's 3D printable laser cutter

Postby lasersafe1 » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:53 pm

thechoochman528 wrote:This year I pledged to design and build 5 various automotive products and to achieve that, I needed rapid prototypes to develop them.


5 products seems quite ambitious. Are you talking about little trinkets that a teenager would want to make his Honda Accord look faster? Is this something you would sell on ebay? I'm just a little curious about the process and plan.

Personally I have always thought that the Holy Grail of sales potential would be to design something that can be used for gardening or home maintenance and have it sitting by the checkout counter at Home Depot. I'll bet the guy that made those anodized aluminum bottle opener keychains is a millionaire now.
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Re: Chooch's 3D printable laser cutter

Postby thechoochman528 » Tue Aug 10, 2010 2:31 pm

bdring,

Yes straightness is a major concern of mine. Threaded rod sometimes isn't that straight when you get it, but i won't know until I start building the xy gantry. I may ultimately need to switch to the extrusions. As for the frame, i think it should be heavy enough it's about 60 feet of steel M8 rod. I can always put in more supports if there is flexing and vibrations. Also I can bolt it down to a sturdy work bench. As you probably know from building yours, it's a learning process. I'm curious to see what doesn't work, just as much as what does.


lasersafe1,

I don't think it's that ambitious, now if i was to do all 110 of my ideas, then yes that would be quite ambitious. Basically I’m starting with the ones that I think are the best and simplest to do.

I’ve been involved for many years in the Subaru community and some big name tuner shops, so I kind of know what it takes to design, build and market products. It’s also a niche market, I’m not doing this to strike it rich and make a million dollars, I would just be comfortable with just an honest wage to pay the bills and get by.

So why not just go all out take out a $100k and start a business? Well, I’m chicken to actually take out a loan and start my own business, because too many companies fail, so I just do this stuff on the side, until I’m ready.

No they are not the little trinkets that teenagers buy. Some were born out of frustration and fill a need to have something that serves a certain function and of course no one else makes anything that is similar. Also, I’ve been working on these things for years already, just never had anything come into the physical world where I could try it out and make it better and actually try to manufacture them.

Actually selling, well I’ve learned a lot from my friends shop. Viral marketing does wonders. Youtube videos, forum marketing, group buys, results and going to events to promote your products. Also, If you have a great product and people are buzzing about it, they are going to sell. Actually getting them in the hands of people you have to have a webstore and you have to work with other companies that have store fronts and webstores where they can sell.

Somethings may be ebay store worthy. A friend told me once it's always the stupid things that sell and make money, so never count those dumb ideas out, they may be the ones that are profitable.
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Straightness

Postby bdring » Tue Aug 10, 2010 2:44 pm

You only need to have the gantry and (2) Y axis extrusions straight. I think the Misumi material is quite cheap.

My sizes below.

1 @ $9.90 Gantry
2 @ $6.40 Y Rails

$22.70 (+30% discount) = $15.89
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Re: Chooch's 3D printable laser cutter

Postby lasersafe1 » Tue Aug 10, 2010 3:20 pm

thechoochman528 wrote:So why not just go all out take out a $100k and start a business? Well, I’m chicken to actually take out a loan and start my own business, because too many companies fail, so I just do this stuff on the side, until I’m ready.


Don't be too Chicken. It doesn't take $100k to start a business. I started my business for $50 to the state corporation commission and $1 to the county for a business license. What does this get me? I can write of 18% of my mortage and utilities as a business expense because my business uses 18% of the house. Cell phone 100%, DSL internet 100%, Website costs 100%. New computer 100%. Laser engraver 100%. Of course your write offs can only be to the extent of your earnings, so you do have to make a profit. I work my business part time and I also have a full time job as an engineer. Some companies don't allow this type of moonlighting, but I am lucky enough to work for a company that doesn't mind as long as it doesn't interfere with my day job.
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