Old 05-23-2013, 04:47 PM #1
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Default Newbie wants to mail you samples to cut/engrave

Hello All,

I'm looking to see what various laser diodes and lens setups cut and engrave for a CNC X-Y table I'm making. Instead of asking "will X laser do Y?" I thought I could just mail out some samples to folks who have the lasers to begin with.

So I'm looking for anyone in the USA (International postage doubled a few months ago) who could take some 3" x 5" or so samples of various things I want to cut and let me know how they work out. I'm leaning towards the single mode 700mw+ 405nm diodes right now but am open to other ideas.

Anyone with the oh-so very new 3.8mm 405nm diodes that don't blow up if you overdrive them? That would be awesome but those are so new and rare it might be awhile before enough are out there for this.

If you have a variety of burning lasers and want to try them out on various samples, please send me a note and I'll mail out the samples to you. I would ask for pictures and data on what diode/lens/driver setup you are running.

I am looking for a good clean, quick cut. Something that takes seconds to burn away the edges and leaves it a charred mess would not work for a lot of the things I want to try and do.

With tons of $$$ I would get a CO2 laser cutter all assembled and everything but lacking the funds for that decided to try for commercial laser diodes instead. I have the parts to make a CNC X-Y table and with the right laser diode/lens/driver setup this could be very sweet.

I think for under $350 you can get something that does a good chunk of what a $3500 CO2 laser can do. More than 10% at least.

Thanks again!

- Ray


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Old 05-23-2013, 05:32 PM #2
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Default Re: Newbie wants to mail you samples to cut/engrave

What are you tryinh to cut/engrave? We may be able to point uou in the right direction without you having to send anything off
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Old 05-23-2013, 06:29 PM #3
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Default Re: Newbie wants to mail you samples to cut/engrave

Well I didn't want to be that newbie who was all like "tell me what will cut XX?"

A few different things - I'm mostly looking for usable substitutes of 1/8" to 1/4" acrylic or plywood that I would use for most of my projects if I had a real laser cutter.

So it's various craft materials in black. I'm just generally assuming that trying to cut in a clean way white paper/foam/whatnot isn't going to work and that solid black material will cut better. I could be wrong on this assumption. If anyone has tried to cut a piece of white paper vs. piece of black paper I would love to hear about that.

So, the materials.

I know that you can cut 2mm thick foam rubber cleanly, but what about 6mm? Foam rubber is floppy and can't hold it's shape vs gravity but still has it's uses.

Black cardstock or even thicker mat board. These are stiff materials (for certain values of stiff) that can hold shape under load, for certain values of load. If you can cut that cleanly you can do a lot of the lasercut designs for cardboard/wood you find on thingaverse or elsewhere. I like the designs out of Cardboard Safari (https://www.etsy.com/shop/CardboardSafari) and would love to do something like that in mat board. The mat board is 0.05" thick BTW.

Black 3/16" foamboard - another stiff material that can hold a shape under load. Again, a lot of the thin plywood laser cut designs can use this as a substitute and work. So, can you cut the foamboard so the edges are nice or does the foam on the inside burn away from the edge too much?

Black tool drawer/shelf liner - This isn't about being a substitute for plywood but it's own thing. The liner I'm thinking of is the more durable solid stuff, not the mesh version. I have a couple of different ideas for art projects that use tool liner cut into shapes. Can I do that with a laser diode or do I have to get access to a "real" CO2 laser?
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Old 05-23-2013, 09:29 PM #4
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Default Re: Newbie wants to mail you samples to cut/engrave

I think anything dark would cut better. With the foam board you may run into issue with lighting it on fire. Ithink the matt board would be the easiest to cut. As far as the fsom you can probably cut even thicker if the laser moves slower you just have to worry about it melting or catching fire at the slower speeds. I think 405 would be your best bet. Even a 445 laser. I would be willing to test cut some things but it would be by hand and not precise. Unless I build some sort of rig to hold the laser stationary and drag the piece under it.
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Old 05-23-2013, 10:17 PM #5
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Default Re: Newbie wants to mail you samples to cut/engrave

Yes, I was thinking 405nm single mode myself.

No serious jigs needed for the test cuts, just having the laser laying on the table and seeing how it cut slowly and steady a straight line would be fine. Does it take forever? Does it cut at all? Does it just set it on fire in a messy way? Questions like that. I don't mind slow but I would like crisp all the way through.

Would that work for you? And I'm up for more than one test person

Thanks again.
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Old 05-24-2013, 02:53 AM #6
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Default Re: Newbie wants to mail you samples to cut/engrave

Yeah. I have the laser in my signature. 500mW+ 405 included
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496.5nm ML Argon
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632.8nm Bare tube HeNe ~3mW~Bare tube HeNe Multimode 12mW (Desk Lamp)
638nm Mrcrouse Custom 650mW
658nm wannaburnstuff baby shower gift? 127mW
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Old 05-24-2013, 03:09 AM #7
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Default Re: Newbie wants to mail you samples to cut/engrave

I doubt you will have much luck cutting any thickness acrylic without a CO2 laser, and definitely not 1/8", 1/4" not a chance. Even with a 40W CO2 I have to run at full power and about 5mm/s to get a decent cut on 1/4" (6mm) acrylic.
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Old 05-24-2013, 04:01 AM #8
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Default Re: Newbie wants to mail you samples to cut/engrave

^ depth cutting is a different beast than just engraving. Look into co2 for sure
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Old 05-24-2013, 02:17 PM #9
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Default Re: Newbie wants to mail you samples to cut/engrave

That is what I thought. Again while I would love a real 40W CO2 laser cutter table with all the trimmings the funding just isn't there.

So I'm looking at "not as good but still kinda works" substitutes for the acrylic and plywood.

The question I have is, for the laser diodes that are discussed on this forum will they cut these still kinda works substitutes? Not just engrave and burn but actual cut cleanly? I've looked at a lot of forum posts and youtube videos of lasers burning and cutting stuff but none of it was the things I wanted to try out. I suspect some things will cut cleanly and others won't but would like to know before purchasing parts.
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Old 05-24-2013, 02:22 PM #10
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Default Re: Newbie wants to mail you samples to cut/engrave

You can get 445nm lasers up to around 2W fairly cheap. At 2W, you'd be able to cut thin materials such as thin balsa, paper (including white), maybe thin-medium thickness dense foam, engrave on pretty much any dark surface (although I don't think metal would work, painted or otherwise).

I doubt you'd be able to cut solid materials like acrylic with 2W, unless it's ultra thin (Say 1mm or less, you might have a chance)
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Old 05-24-2013, 02:49 PM #11
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Default Re: Newbie wants to mail you samples to cut/engrave

I've heard from a few people that the high watt 445nm diodes can't focus as much as the single mode 405nm diodes. It's more power, but in a bigger dot so from an energy/area ratio (the higher, the more it cuts) the 405nm (even at say 700mW) wins hands down.

But these as the sort of question that I was hoping the testing would answer

In some ways I'm coming at it differently than the norm. I'm not asking "whats the best burning laser?", I'm asking "Will any laser do this minimum level of cutting this material?" The absolute best burning laser diode and lens might not work at all, in which case I need to change plans. Thus the testing.

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Originally Posted by Things View Post
You can get 445nm lasers up to around 2W fairly cheap. At 2W, you'd be able to cut thin materials such as thin balsa, paper (including white), maybe thin-medium thickness dense foam, engrave on pretty much any dark surface (although I don't think metal would work, painted or otherwise).

I doubt you'd be able to cut solid materials like acrylic with 2W, unless it's ultra thin (Say 1mm or less, you might have a chance)
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