Questions before Build

General discussion of laser machines

Questions before Build

Postby juliancxw » Fri Apr 06, 2012 7:01 pm

Hi I am interested in building a laser machine.

I stumbled upon the lasersaur project before finding the buildlog 2x and after reading the pros and cons of both, I'm a little confuse.

First, while buildlog 2x seems much refined, it's limited workspace is an disadvantage - I would like to cut at least A1 size materials. Hence, would I be able to extend the cutting area easily by modifying the plans abit? I am an architecture student hence mechanical and fabrication skills shouldnt be a problem but I'm a little worried about the electronics and calibration.

Second, can someone explain the difference between the wattage of lasers please. The lasersaur allows for a 100w but the 2x mostly uses a 40w. While i know 100w cuts faster, what can a 40w laser cut? We have 120w epilog lasers in school (which are over booked) and sometimes we have trouble cutting through our materials - probably due to poor maintenance and warping of the material. Is 40w enough? - I cut mostly cardboard, bristol board and acrylic. Occasionally I would like to be able to cut plywood as well.

Third, would i be able to build this machine without ordering any of the kits? As mentioned above, I have access to laser machines and a metal fabrication workshop. Also, what is the lowest budget anyone has had when building a laser cutter.

Thanks
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Re: Questions before Build

Postby r691175002 » Fri Apr 06, 2012 8:05 pm

I can't give a fully neutral perspective on buildlog vs lasersaur, but from what I have seen of the bill of materials and other published information, the lasersaur is significantly more expensive and complicated. The buildlog.net 2.x laser has made quite a few refinements over the 1.0 laser and combined with makerslide it is very cheap and easy to build for what you get.

The main advantages of the lasersaur are the marketing and comprehensive documentation. It can be difficult to figure out exactly how to build the buildlog laser.

You can extend the cutting area by modifying the plans, going to 30x20" should be no problem because that is the cutting area of the 1.0 laser. Going to lasersaur size may introduce flex, but it will be no worse than the lasersaur since both machines are made from extrusion. Note that it becomes exponentially more difficult to align the laser over large distances.

Wattage is mostly a speed issue. A 40W laser can cut 1/4" acrylic and plywood, and can do thicker if you cut very slowly or in multiple passes. Paper, cardboard, etc is no problem. 120W is a lot of laser and if it is having trouble cutting through any of the mentioned materials there is something seriously wrong with the machines.

You can build the machine without ordering any kits, but if you have access to a mill/lathe you can probably do a better job of some of the parts (bearing mounts). You will still need to buy extrusion, makerslide, timing belts, possibly v-wheels and such. Most of the kits are reasonably economic and I would recommend considering the amount of work they will save.

A typical budget when building a laser would be 2000-3000$. If you have the skills and tools, you could get by on the cost of electronics, laser and linear motion which would probably bring a build into the 1000$ range.

Things like ventilation can cost a few hundred on top of that.
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Re: Questions before Build

Postby juliancxw » Sun Apr 08, 2012 5:31 pm

Thanks r691175002

Sorry just one more question. I see that the lasersaur does not have a z axis adjustable cutting table. How does it deal with focusing the laser beam? using a lens?
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Re: Questions before Build

Postby TLHarrell » Mon Apr 09, 2012 4:38 pm

There are lens mounts which can be moved up and down for focus. I believe the Lasersaur uses one like that. The laser beam itself is about half the width of a pencil throughout it's beam path. Once it hits the focus lens, the beam tightens to a point at the lens focal length. That is where your cutting point is. Coarse adjustment to materials can be made by placing on blocks. Fine adjustment made by the laser head.
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