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Old 11-24-2008, 07:22 PM #1
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Default Laser Engraver on teh cheap

I'm playing around with the idea of building a laser engraver from an old flatbed pen plotter and er, a laser. I was thinking of biffing a ~300mW 22x red LD into it originally, but on further research I think that might only be capable of engraving fluff and if I'm lucky, foam. So maybe I'll go for a CO2 - at this stage though I'm just thinking about getting the plotter sorted.

Anybody else thought of this or have any experiences? Successful (or failed!) attempts?

The basic principle seems sound enough to me, wire the pen down/up to laser on/off. Mount the laser directly to where the pen would go (if it's a diode) or use mirrors (if it's CO2). Set the speed and power to something suitable for the material. Lift the gantry out of the casing a bit to make some more clearance and there you go.

It's just the details that get ye..


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Old 11-29-2008, 10:36 AM #2
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Default Re: Laser Engraver on the cheap

I've been thinking about making one of these for burning patterns in wood, however to make anything worth while it'll need to be a 1W+ fiber optic laser in order to get a point fine enough and be able to make worth while patterns within my lifetime.
The laser module would be fixed at the side and only the fiber tip would be moved around which would allow for much smaller stepper motors and much finer control.

For engraving metal i would assume you'd need alot more power so CO2 might be your only option (i'm unfamiliar with high power lasers) and getting optics to run that so you can keep it fixed and only move the resulting dot would cost a small fortune!

Might prove cheaper to get a proper unit for x hundred thousand <insert currency here>
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Old 12-01-2008, 09:23 PM #3
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Default Re: Laser Engraver on the cheap

Yeah I've been doing some further research - got as far as finding a bit out about a few specific plotters and it seems a nightmare to get the things running. That said I found this -

engadget.com/2006/06/29/how-to-build-your-own-cnc-machine-part-1/

and the last part which mentions some software - KCam, perhaps a candidate for controlling old routers, I've got to download the demo and have a closer look.

I can see the cost spiralling wildly out of control quite easily with a project like this, given that you can pick up a small CO2 one off eBay for ~600 - with the work required this would have to come in at around 200-400 and work very well to be worth it.

This thread made for some interesting reading - cnczone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24053&page=3
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Old 12-01-2008, 09:34 PM #4
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Default Re: Laser Engraver on the cheap

Look in the GB section here for a 15 watt CO2 !!!

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Old 12-01-2008, 10:04 PM #5
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Default Re: Laser Engraver on the cheap

If you don't want to use a CO2(it's a more difficult laser to work with in this case), you can find very high powered fiber coupled laser diodes on eBay.

-Adam
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