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Any recommended upgrades for a 2.x laser?

PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 1:44 am
by alan025
I'm preparing to build a 2.x laser cutter for the local hackerspace. I'm interested in any upgrades/enhancement that anyone might recommend based on the following: The target user community will be a mix of artists, machinists, and everyone in between. The user community won't have much experience with a laser cutter. I'd like the cutter to be as user friendly as possible and the required maintenance to be pretty straight forward. The meeting space isn't terribly large, so the 2.x physical size seems a good fit.

So, here's a list of possible upgrades I was thinking about and I like your opinions on these and any others you might suggest.

1) Possible upgrade to 60W. This would give more flexibility to the users, but would require either increasing the form factor to fit laser tube or create a stubby extension out the left side to hide the extra tube length. Are there any 60W tubes that fit the tube bracket assemblies? Has anyone else tried to fit a 60W tube in the 2.x case?

2) Interlocks, interlocks, interlocks. Top cover, water flow, air flow, emergency stop button, anything else?

3) cncoletech power supply. It has a pot built in to the side that can be set to limit the max current supplied to the tube. This might avoid what damaged a Full Spectrum Laser machine that I have access to (knob tweekers had access to the pot on the control panel).

4) Would a 70mm focal length help keep the lens cleaner (i.e. further away from burning stuff)? I could add an inch to the working envelope to accommodate this. Is there a practical downside to a longer focal length?

5) Electronics capable of supporting the etching/cutting of inkscape files as well as control from EMC2. Is there anything that will support that range of user types? The closest I've been able to find is the Lasersaur electronics that will allow printing inkscape and gcode files, but I get the impression that set of electronics isn't fully baked yet.

6) A beam combiner with a red pointer. Is this of any real value whatsoever?

7) Dust filter on the air intake. Just to keep from sucking in whatever else is in the air at the hackerspace.

Does this list sound reasonable? Anything I missed that could make the machine even more user friendly to a diverse group of users?

Thanks for your help,

Re: Any recommended upgrades for a 2.x laser?

PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:53 am
by cvoinescu
To answer half of your #4, a longer focal length means a larger depth-of-field (so a better cut in thicker materials) but a wider beam at the narrowest point (so a wider kerf and slower cut in thin materials). The latter is not intuitive: it is the result of diffraction and the very long wavelength of this type of laser. The difference between 50 mm and 75 mm isn't tremendous; in fact, 75 mm may be a good compromise for diverse use, and more forgiving of height adjustment to boot.

Re: Any recommended upgrades for a 2.x laser?

PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:02 pm
by TLHarrell
#7 generally not really an issue, unless there's a heck of a lot of particulate matter in the air, in which case you have bigger issues that need to be dealt with. The laser creates smoke and particulates, so any additional that are going up the exhaust is no problem.

Re: Any recommended upgrades for a 2.x laser?

PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:13 am
by kbob
Re #6, a beam combiner costs money and absorbs some power from your laser. Take a look at Ben Jackson's red laser mod. I have one on my 2.x now, too.