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best laser for a cutting, engraving (not just burning holes in things)

KenSoggs

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I am looking to find the best laser for cutting/burning. I know higher power = better burning, but i have also read plenty saying that mw is only one small factor in burning ability. I know that you cant burn red items with a red laser, you cant burn blue items with a blue laser, etc... I have read that higher wavelengths have more heating power (red and IR create more heat than say a blue or green) but i also heard that beam style has a great influence on burning (green has a very tight concentrated beam which is better for burning than a blue, which has a large rectangular beam)
I understand that the better you can focus the light in a small area the better the burn. I have also read that the actual burning power of a laser is greatly different between different colors (a red may only need 200mw to burn the same as a 500mw in a blue, etc)

I originally got into all this in an attempt to build a CNC laser cutting table for cutting sheet metal. (like a plasma cutter) but realized i was not ready to deal with 100's of watts of invisible laser quite yet. But i do have some experience with lasers, and a good bit of skill in custom mechanical and electrical stuff. I have already built a CNC mill and have a metal lathe. I was just thinking it would not take much to add a laser head to my CNC mill... and be able to cut/etch/engrave things if i had the right laser.
i thought it would be super cool to get a laser capable of cutting foam, paper, acrylic, etc...

my problem is that i learn my trial, not so much from reading. I can read articles and reviews and how to's for weeks.. and not fully wrap my head around it until i get in and actually get my hands on something or talk to someone who knows this stuff.

so can anyone tell me what i should start looking into? should i not waste my time on "laser pointers" and "diode lasers" and jump right into a CO2 or YAG laser? or can i get good results using a near-IR diode laser?

I do not know how well any of this will work, but i am willing to give it a try. I have seen some really neat stuff made on home-brew cnc laser cutters. I already have the CNC part done and 100% working. so to fit a laser to it would just be a logical upgrade.

so help me out my friends, what is the best way to go for laser cutting power? what is the best bang for the buck? what burns what the best?
 

KenSoggs

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i am just intimidated by the fact you cant see co2 beam at all... just seems scary.

I know if i was cutting metal, i would need co2 or yag etc... but if i wanted to start with something a little less powerful... and just stick to easier to cut materials for now... what would my next best bet be?

what would you suggest as a stepping stone to CO2?

(i actually have a local source for a pretty powerful argon laser and a big he-ne laser, but i have no idea if those have any cutting capability at all.)

So i just thought that maybe a "high powered laser pointer" would be a good stepping stone to get my feet wet in laser cutting.
 

KenSoggs

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Hmmm... A madass bluray laser.... Aren't those the near uv 405nm ones?
I thought they only got up to a few hundred mw.
How does their burning power compare to the 445 and near ir?
 

piferal

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Yes, the 405nm is near to the UV, the UV-A starts at 315nm and ends at 380nm.

To burn many kinds of materials, and at the same power, the wavelength 405nm is something
better than 445nm, and especially more than the infrared wavelength 808nm, for example.

What happens is that you can find easily laser pointers 445nm with 1W or more,
while the 405nm, not, (talking about the laser pointers).
 

KenSoggs

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I was under the impression that the red side of the spectrum had much more heat power. Ir heart lamps, ir ceramic heaters, ir thermometers, ir thermal scopes.
And the fact that all industrial laser cutters use a firm of ir laser (co2, yag) I just always thought that ir had more heat energy, this would be better for burning/cutting. But I am no physicist.

I would imagine the further towards uv you got the less heat you would get from the light.
 
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If you are looking for serious metal laser cutting machinery, you should look up some companies that do that kind of stuff; they can offer you those services... If you really want to do it yourself at home, you can still benefit from their advice and experience.

You'll end up spending your money on good equipment specifically for your needs and you'll be able to make your projects right away !


Have a nice day !
 

Cube777

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You just digged up a thread that was 1 and a half years old, well done :beer:
 
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Hi.

Did you ever get a response to your question? I am trying to build the same, and also have build a CNC foam cutter/CNC router, which I wish to mount a laser on.

I did come across this in my searchings which may be of interest.

Industrial 808nm 10W (10000mw) Infrared Laser Module FocusableCutter w/TTL | eBay

Let me know if you have made any progress and how which path you have taken, and any sucess/failures you have experienced

Kind regards
 

lasersbee

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I might get one of these just because the price is so good, it's a better cutter/engraver than any of our hobby lasers. 40W of good round beam quality, not a unevenly diverging rectangle beam.

High Precise 40W CO2 USB Laser Engraving Cutting Machine Engraver Wood Cutter | eBay
What are the shipping cost to you RC ??
Your link won't ship to Canada.. Found this
one at a higher cost with Free Shipping...

40W USB CO2 Laser Engraving Cutting Machine Engraver Cutter Coreldraw software | eBay


Jerry
 

RedCowboy

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Yes there's a bunch of them with different size work areas, for me it said free shipping and from a US location as well, very tempting but what I really am looking forward to is mass production of fiber laser powered cutter/engravers, they are still expensive but will get affordable in time with production, unless something better is discovered first.
 
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