10W, 10600nm salvage: what can I cut with it?

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10W, 10600nm salvage: what can I cut with it?

Postby Transistor » Thu May 23, 2013 8:07 pm

Hi, chaps.
I've salvaged a Synrad Model J48-1SW-A13101 from a product marking system. The unit is 10W, 10600nm. I've built a little 5kHz PWM controller on an Arduino, hooked up cooling and power, and fired it up (pointing into a chunk of limestone while wearing 10600nm safety glasses). It's burning cardboard and plywood and I seem to be getting a nice small dot size.

I'm wondering if it's worth building a CNC machine around this laser. What can I expect to cut at that wavelength and power? Card, wood, plastics?

I don't understand the limitations when running a low power device? For example, if 40W would cut 3/8" (10mm) plywood why would a 10W unit not be able to cut it at a lower speed?

I've had a good read through the Buildlog blog and forum. Any other thoughts or links?

Many thanks.
Transistor
 
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Re: 10W, 10600nm salvage: what can I cut with it?

Postby BenJackson » Thu May 23, 2013 9:20 pm

Transistor wrote:I don't understand the limitations when running a low power device? For example, if 40W would cut 3/8" (10mm) plywood why would a 10W unit not be able to cut it at a lower speed?

That's sort of like asking why you can't bake a cake at 200F or turn it up to 650F and cook it twice as fast.

You can probably cut paper, cardboard, wood veneer, cloth, felt, etc. You could engrave most anything a 40W laser could engrave (possibly slower, but not much on a hobby laser where travel speed is the limiting factor).

The cost of a chinese 40W tube and PSU on eBay is $300-400 total, so you will spend more on the other parts of your machine than the laser. At least design for the 40W tube so you can swap one in later.
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Re: 10W, 10600nm salvage: what can I cut with it?

Postby macona » Fri May 24, 2013 5:49 am

Like Ben says, you can cut paper and other light materials. You might be able to get through 1/8" acrylic, but it will be real slow and you will probably have a crummy cut.

You just cant expect a 10 watt to do what a 40 can just slower. The power does not scale like that. You need enough power density to get past the thermal absorption capacity of the material. If you cant deliver enough power fast enough the material will just absorb the energy and nothing will happen.

The RF heads have a fast response time, thats why they are used in galvo systems where you are etching part numbers into thing as they go by on a conveyor, though 10W is even low for that. I have a friend who used to work at epson and they used a 50 watt CO2 to mark the lot numbers on inkjet carts.
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Re: 10W, 10600nm salvage: what can I cut with it?

Postby Transistor » Fri May 24, 2013 9:29 am

Thanks for the replies.
I understand the power density points and it makes sense that at low powers the material would conduct the heat away.
I have a big ugly 3-axis machine I built from industrial ball-screw slides. I might try a simple mounting of the laser on this machine to see what it can do. If I build another machine it will, of course, have space to accommodate a more powerful laser. 8-)
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