Commercially available laser controllers

Electronics related to CNC

Re: Commercially available laser controllers

Postby lasersafe1 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:18 pm

The controller in its present state must receive a file that has come from CorelDraw or AutoCad and then it is processed by a visual basic plugin that runs within each of these programs to turn it into the machine code file for the DSP to store or run.

Right now if I import a picture into CorelDraw and launch their plugin, it will convert it to black and white at the 50% threshold. This is true whether it is a color picture or greyscale. If I want finer control of the engraving process, then I will take the picture into CorelDraw and do the conversions myself. First to greyscale and then to 1 bit bitmap with dithering.

The pictures will always be processed as a raster scan on the output, but you also have the option of telling it to vector cut the perimeter when the scan is complete.

If I import a picture and I draw some shapes around the picture, it knows to raster the picture but it gives me several options for the shapes that I have drawn. CorelDraw is a vector based drawing package, so it is the easiest way to go for these guys. Option 1 is raster scanning the shapes along with the primary picture. Option 2 is vector cutting the shapes at X speed and X power (X adjustable). Option 3 is producing the shapes in a vector drawn dot pattern where you can specify the length of burn on each dot and the distance between the dots.

One feature that I really like is that I can process a file where I tell it zero power, zero speed and send it along to be stored in the DSP. After it is called in the DSP it will run with the power and speed that are set on the operator control panel. I can start a run at, let's say, 30% power and 100mm/sec and watch the output result. If I don't like what I'm seeing, I can hit pause and adjust the power and speed from the control panel and then hit resume. Presumably one would then simply keep a logbook near the machine to record the appropriate power and speed settings for a specific object. (wood type, marble, glass, acrylic, etc.)
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Re: Commercially available laser controllers

Postby lasersafe1 » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:23 pm

I used my engraver yesterday to do a nice Valentines gift for the wife. It was a nice heart engraving on maple with tiny hearts inside and some deep script engraving with the mushy words. She LOVED it! Finally I did something useful with this thing!
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Re: Commercially available laser controllers

Postby lasersafe1 » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:27 pm

I had a little surprise this weekend. When I purchased the DSP controller, I understood that I would also need to purchase CorelDraw or AutoCad so I could install the Visual Basic plugin to run from. I "obtained" the CorelDraw software and got the system running.

It turns out I didn't even need CorelDraw or Autocad. The software that comes with the DSP also includes a stand-alone windows program called RLaserCut2.0 that acts as a drawing package. You can draw lines and shapes and text for vector cutting, or import stuff for vector or raster. From the import list, I see that it can handle the following file types: AI,DXF,PLT,DST,DSB,BMP,GIF,JPG,PNG,MNG,ICO CUR,TIF,TGA,PCX,JBG,JP2,JPC,PGX,RAS,PNM,SKA,RAW.

This thing is impressive. I had tried doing texts with CorelDraw, but I didn't know how to turn standard texts into vector cut. As an example, Arial Bold would only want to raster. When I write text with their program using Arial Bold, it will convert the text to vector where the letter is essentially outlined and there is no inner fill. Pretty cool!
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Re: Commercially available laser controllers

Postby ricklaser » Mon May 03, 2010 1:13 pm

Hi all,
congratulations lasersafe! u got it.

2 years ago i bought the same m40 machine and changed all electronic fro a 3 axis cnc card and use ArtCam to cutting setup and Mach3 to control, it run fine to cut but not to engrave.

Now i bougth a DSP card from Marco and put it in my 3050 - 50W machine, it is amazing card!it can cut very precise. I changed to the original ZnSe lens for a plano-convex GaAs Lens ( black magic) from Ophir - Israel.
I broken my head to get setup it but is all ok now. I might cut a 3mm acrylic leaving a wall of only 0.5 mm
http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=viewImage&friendID=511596599&albumID=860326&imageID=10293427
http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=viewImage&friendID=511596599&albumID=860326&imageID=10293428

here a video from a DSP running my 3050 machine
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ea4YSw2RpNM
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Re: Commercially available laser controllers

Postby lasersafe1 » Wed May 05, 2010 1:30 am

Looks like you get a lot done with your lasers. I am just starting to find things to do with it. Lately I'm cutting robot parts out of 1/4" acrylic. It is so nice to go straight from AutoCad to part output without worrying about Gcode.

Your 80W tube looks to be very high quality. Do you sell them?
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Re: Commercially available laser controllers

Postby ricklaser » Wed May 05, 2010 4:33 pm

yes, output a work directly from cad or corel ( i use corel ) is sweet.

well, i´m a physicist and i designed and built flowing gas Co2 lasers 25 years ago... than i stop with it and about 3 years ago I went back to lasers, sealed only,...never more gas cylinders....vacuum pumps..... gauges.... uffff ! now i sell that longlife tube, Ophir- Israel GaAS lens , repair laser machines.... change routers cnc in laser machines...
About that tube, is a longlife tube, this tube have 6000 - 10000+ hours lifespan , is from GSI, GSI is an England company but the factory is in China and I get the tube in China for 1/3 the price that GSI sells :) .I can get this 80W tube $880
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Re: Commercially available laser controllers

Postby pixpop » Wed May 05, 2010 4:54 pm

What's the advantage of GaAs optics instead of ZnSe?

Neil
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Re: Commercially available laser controllers

Postby ricklaser » Thu May 06, 2010 12:19 am

hey Neil,
I like the GaAs mainly because high resistance to dirt and cleanling. I have the habit (vicious?) of cleaning the optics every time.....and GaAs have very low absorption to co2 wavelenght ( <0.15%) and hight focus stability, but have many good ZnSe lenses too.
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Re: Commercially available laser controllers

Postby lasersafe1 » Wed Jun 30, 2010 2:25 pm

So far I have been happy with my DSP controller from LightObject.com, but I am starting to see examples of items that I am not so sure I can do on my laser with this controller. For historical reference, you may wish to go back to pages 2 and 3 of this post to review what I did to make 3D engravings using bitmap dithering.

Now I find these incredible carvings that are done in true grayscale using 256 levels of gray.

picUS-Seal-3d-laser-engraving.jpg
picUS-Seal-3d-laser-engraving.jpg (15.89 KiB) Viewed 2051 times



pic961-carve-3d-laser-engraving.jpg
pic961-carve-3d-laser-engraving.jpg (26.9 KiB) Viewed 2049 times



snap.jpg

http://www.gantryco.com
You can purchase the images for engraving from Gantryco.com. They seem a bit expensive, but then again they are a one time purchase that you can use forever to make thousands of carvings.


Looks like I'm going to have to find a newer controller that can really handle the 256 levels of gray. :( I'm not sure, but this may also force a move to an RF laser for the fine power control. I will fight this tooth and nail until I have seen proof that it just "can't be done" with a DC tube.
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Re: Commercially available laser controllers

Postby pixpop » Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:33 pm

What's your reason for thinking an RF laser will give you better power control?
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