GroupDIY

General Discussions => Machine Shop => Topic started by: Anthon on March 20, 2020, 07:27:03 AM

Title: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: Anthon on March 20, 2020, 07:27:03 AM
I'm looking for a decent laser for my DIY work.
I would say it's for semi-professional use, because I sell a lot of my work.

Work area that would fit at least a 19 inch 6U panel. (50cmx30cm would be good).
I need it for laser engraving of panels and cutting leather.

So the biggest dilemma for me, going with some Chinese model which would almost certainly need some modifications to run properly, or paying more and going with good quality brand that will work reliably out of the box.

Is there a particular model that you had experience with? (good or bad)
What else should be considered?
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: iampoor1 on March 21, 2020, 01:18:23 PM
Well, for engraving aluminum you are going to need a fibre (not a co2) laser, so pretty much every cheap machine would not be suitable...

Might be good to define a budget. I am pretty certain that manley and some of the other big companies that are using laser engraving are using epilog machines. Make sure to be sitting when you see the price tag.  ;D
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: Gold on March 22, 2020, 05:28:15 PM
Would a CO2 laser be suitable for engraving through powder coat on aluminum?
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: Anthon on March 23, 2020, 05:19:52 PM
Well, for engraving aluminum you are going to need a fibre (not a co2) laser, so pretty much every cheap machine would not be suitable...

Might be good to define a budget. I am pretty certain that manley and some of the other big companies that are using laser engraving are using epilog machines. Make sure to be sitting when you see the price tag.  ;D

I meant using some product like Cermark for printing on aluminium, which is possible with Co2 laser. I guess that wouldn't be engraving, but all I want is putting label on panels.

Come to think of it,  perhaps I should just go for silk screening instead.  ::)
I like how silk screens look more, and if you do multiple copies of panels it would probably be easier and cheaper. Plus you can work with any kind of surface, painted or not.
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: gyraf on March 24, 2020, 06:12:04 AM
Laser is very good on blasting color off anodized aluminum. Even a tiny 10W diode laser can actually mark black-anodized..
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: [silent:arts] on March 24, 2020, 08:10:36 AM
(http://www.silentarts.de/DIY/V672X/V672X-Front.jpg)

Both panels are done using a CO2 Laser.
Black on silver needs Cermark (since the laser marks on anodized aluminium are always white).

I use a Chinese model bought on eBay (50W, 50cm x 30cm workspace).
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: gyraf on March 24, 2020, 12:44:45 PM
 :) +1 for [silent:arts]'s laser on anodized...!
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: Marik on March 27, 2020, 01:30:17 AM
When choosing the CO2 laser keep in mind that most of cheap 40/50/60 watt Chinese lasers will come with a crap Arduino type drivers and Chinese hacked old Corel, which will  not even have metric/imperial conversion and very poor, dated features, and very limited file conversion. You cannot really push that thing to go fast, as it will start distorting shapes and won't repeat, giving all kinds of errors, confusing work space zero, etc.

It will also not have ability of rotary attachment control. It won't have laser focus adjustment/or table lift feature, so you will be very limited in the thickness of engraving panels and it will take long time to change and adjust it every time. It also won't have an exhaust connected to the lens--just a generic fan, which is total crap. Not to mention, the cooling system is also total crap (make sure you fill it with distilled water) and comes with aquarium type of extremely unreliable water pump. Also, very probable you will get say, 60W machine with only 40W rated power supply. The list can go on forever...

Besides paying attention to all of those, as well as the machine size, also keep in mind the later DSP drivers/controllers such as say, Ruida, are much more versatile and flexible, and would be by far preferable. Most likely, if the machine has this kind of controller it will have most of the features I mentioned above, as it is a good indication of a higher end machine.

Still, be prepared to spend at least full day adjusting mirrors, making sure all the driving belt tensioned correctly, the limit switches are in the correct places, the rail bumps are of correct length, etc. etc. etc. But once you go through all of these and learning curve you will actually have lots of fun!!!

Best, M
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: [silent:arts] on March 27, 2020, 03:58:41 AM
I have been very lucky with my Chinese laser Marik, I can't confirm your experience.
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: abbey road d enfer on March 27, 2020, 01:18:16 PM
I'm looking for a decent laser for my DIY work.
I would say it's for semi-professional use, because I sell a lot of my work.

Work area that would fit at least a 19 inch 6U panel. (50cmx30cm would be good).
I need it for laser engraving of panels and cutting leather.

So the biggest dilemma for me, going with some Chinese model which would almost certainly need some modifications to run properly, or paying more and going with good quality brand that will work reliably out of the box.

Is there a particular model that you had experience with? (good or bad)
What else should be considered?
Flatbed UV printer seems to be a serious alternative. They can print on almost any material and offer a large choice of colours. the final result is similar to silk-screening.
I had ordered one with 400x600mm size at €3k, but they called me later asking an additional €800 if I wanted the machine.
I cancelled the order since this is not a good way of conducting business. I have checked others, it seems €5k is the minimum for a machine this size, with a reasonable furnishing of expandables (ink, cleaner...).
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: Marik on March 27, 2020, 06:13:23 PM
I have been very lucky with my Chinese laser Marik, I can't confirm your experience.

All machines are different. I merely pointed out what features to look for in CO2 laser machines in general and what to expect from something like cheapest K40 type of machine, so everyone chooses what s/he needs. Hopefully, it was helpful.

Best, M
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: Rocinante on March 27, 2020, 11:31:25 PM
Volker,
Any chance you have a link?  Yours look perfect to my eyes.
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: [silent:arts] on March 28, 2020, 05:03:38 AM
Volker,
Any chance you have a link?  Yours look perfect to my eyes.

No problem. I bought mine 5 years ago, so the listing doesn't exist anymore, but this one (https://www.ebay.de/itm/50W-Laser-Graviermaschine-cutting-tool-Cutter-Engrave-Laser-Gravur-Maschine/254022216946?) looks very similar.
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: abbey road d enfer on March 28, 2020, 06:05:49 AM
No problem. I bought mine 5 years ago, so the listing doesn't exist anymore, but this one (https://www.ebay.de/itm/50W-Laser-Graviermaschine-cutting-tool-Cutter-Engrave-Laser-Gravur-Maschine/254022216946?) looks very similar.
Have you tried to etch PCB's with it?
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: [silent:arts] on March 28, 2020, 06:14:30 AM
Have you tried to etch PCB's with it?

No. I only use it for laser etching front panels and transformer boxes.
You can see the outcome on my Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/51xaudio/).
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: boji on March 28, 2020, 08:26:28 PM
Quote
I have been very lucky with my Chinese laser Marik, I can't confirm your experience.

Glad to hear you've had positive experience with it, since there's a lot of negative reviews / upgrade mods on YT.

Have you had to change the tube yet?

By the way, how have you set up your water recycler? Have any picts?
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: [silent:arts] on March 29, 2020, 12:44:12 PM
Glad to hear you've had positive experience with it, since there's a lot of negative reviews / upgrade mods on YT.
I didn't do any mods or upgrades. I first thought I need to buy Cornell Draw, but the included Software reads my Illustrator files and dxf if needed, and most pixel graphics customers send me are no problem too.

Quote
Have you had to change the tube yet?
No. I even didn't feel to change my settings yet (I'm doing the black anodized panels with 15% laser power).

Quote
By the way, how have you set up your water recycler? Have any picts?
It is just a container with 15 liter circulating water and antifreeze and the (included) pump.
Will do a pic next time I'm in the basement.
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: Anthon on March 29, 2020, 06:07:17 PM
No. I only use it for laser etching front panels and transformer boxes.
You can see the outcome on my Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/51xaudio/).

Looks very nice. If the Chinese 50w laser can produce this kind of quality then I'm sold.

What about reliability and consistency?  Have you ever had panels ruined because the machine malfunctioned?
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: [silent:arts] on March 30, 2020, 02:02:27 AM
What about reliability and consistency?  Have you ever had panels ruined because the machine malfunctioned?
No, not because of the machine, only because of me.
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: Anthon on April 01, 2020, 11:35:11 AM
No, not because of the machine, only because of me.

Well, it seems like a no-brainer to me then. Even if there is some tuning and upgrading to be done it's fine by me, as long as you end up with something that usable and reliable.

I guess you had no issues with the laser tube and cooling because you are running it on 15% power. A lot of people are saying the tubes are not actually rated for 50W, they burn down fast if you use maximum settings.
Cermark seems to works best on low power anyway.
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: substitute on June 21, 2020, 12:14:17 PM
Quote
Both panels are done using a CO2 Laser.
Black on silver needs Cermark (since the laser marks on anodized aluminium are always white).

I use a Chinese model bought on eBay (50W, 50cm x 30cm workspace).

Volker, your panels look fantastic. How do you drill them out after etching? Does the laser leave enough of a guide divot that you can reliably drill by hand?
Title: Re: Laser cutter recommendations.
Post by: [silent:arts] on June 22, 2020, 09:09:46 AM
Well, I don't drill anything. I use pre-drilled front panels (CNCed by www.frontpanels.de) and only add the laser engraving myself.