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Equipment needed to make laser hosts?

Alaskan

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I'm researching what it takes to mill laser hosts, can those who are doing so give recommendations on what to buy?
 



GSS

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How much room would you have?
Lathe,
Cut off saw,
Bench grinder,
Drill press,
and lot's of tooling for something simple.
Getting fancy would need a miller, surface grinder and more tooling.
It's hard to but in general but,
getting the proper lathe would be the most important and to what size host's can be made. You could use a chuck type or collet type which you would need an assortment.
Drills, taps, threading die's, knurling tools, cutoff tools, angle tools, champer tools, undercut tools, mills, grinder wheels, if your using carbide then you need a diamond wheel.
These tools also need the proper holder's and should be compatable standard size.
Imagination "which you sure do have" to improvise and use what you can.
Alaskan, any machine shops at the Army bases or even local to get a idea?:)
 
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Alaskan

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I quit that job, back in Alaska now. Machine shop work is expensive here. While members can make nice hosts, the stuff I want to do with PBS cubes and mirrors makes the projects I want built too far out of the norm, so if I want it done, I have to do it myself, that's why I'm looking around now. I was hoping someone might have a recommendation for a specific mill and lathe.
 
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GSS

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Lifetime or Bowtie should chime in soon. I would think something like Harbor Freight mini lathe would be good for a good lathe choice for what you want it for but can't say for a mill.
 

ElectricPlasma

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GSS nailed it. I can't imagine coming across precision machinery for consumers is very easy to come by in Alaska, but I might be wrong. You should ask around locally. There may very well be a reason why custom machining is expensive.

It's a lot of money to run a shop, even a home shop. Good luck though. :tinfoil:
 

paul1598419

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Are you still going to Qatar, Chris? Or are you back in Alaska to stay?
 

RedCowboy

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Rather than a small " Hobby " lathe you might want to look into a quality used one, you could buy out someone's used equipment and get a lot of tooling for a song or simply with the deal. (( Check side to side bearing tolerances and end play )) any time you buy a rotating machine.

You do need to wear eye protection and know that copper is grabby when you work it, even drilling it you will notice it warms up and seizes easily.

Titanium alloys can be very difficult I have been told to cut clean because they marr as you start to cut.

By all means watch some videos, squaring things and proper chucking is a start, also your feed rate or how big of a bite and the best RPM for a given material is something you have some latitude on but you don't want to get hurt or break things so error on the cautious side and take your time.


 
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BowtieGuy

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Chris, these guys have pretty much answered most everything; GSS has a pretty comprehensive list, with the lathe obviously being the at the top of your list.
If you're going to be making plates and fixtures for optics and such, you'll be wanting to look at a mill also.
Red has a good point about buying used machinery, you can save quite a bit, but you need to know what you're getting, a lot of used equipment can be worn out and become a money pit.

Without knowing what kind of budget you have, it's hard to pick a specific piece of equipment, as was mentioned you could go with a Harbor freight lathe or all the way to CNC equipment, or most likely something in between.

A couple things I'd like in a lathe are metric threading ability, and a quick change tool holder and tooling.

As you get more into machining, you'll find that it's not hard to invest damn near as much into tooling as you did for your equipment, it definitely needs to be considered in your budget!

I know some people will not agree with me on this, but having used tools all my life, I tend to buy the best tool I can afford!

Good luck in your search! :beer:
 
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logsquared

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School and Gov/institutional auctions are a great place to find solid older machines. Also, craigslist. I found a mint 1930's 9" south bend lathe for $300 with tooling extra chucks etc on craigslist. Keep in mind that most auction machines will have 3 phase motors. Also, moving large machines is hard and can be dangerous.

Determining the type machine is easy....

Round parts, threads = lathe

Flat parts = vertical mill.

Some lathes have an attachment that turn them into a horizontal mill. However, i find them really awkward to use.

Couple of things to look for... As RC said make sure the tool is not too "sloppy". Make sure any potential lathe has a gearbox for threading.

If you only plan to do hosts and other small size projects a foreign made "all-in-one" mill lathe might be the best choice. Usually these can be freighted to you doorstep. Again make sure it has a gearbox for threads.

I would check practicalmachinist.com for recommendations on "all in ones"

A small bandsaw and tool grinder are pretty mandatory for any metal work.
 

Lifetime17

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hi,
Wow very much answered here in this thread all comments are on spot, Yes tooling is on top to i still to this day find myself buying different tooling for different effects on stock. I have sunk a considerable amount of $$ on tooling alone . Oh and the time it consumes when you run a piece hours and hours not minutes. And if you make a mistake thats time and material lost ,thats a go home and do it again thing so take your time with a job and don't rush...Good luck in your endeavors buddy, its amazing turning a piece of metal into a work of art.

Rich:)
 

Alaskan

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Thanks guys, just want to build some unique stuff for the optical side of a host, so a mill is the thing I need most, but of course, without the lathe, I won't be building hosts so need both. Probably the all in one will be what I need, something which allows me to work with up to 4 inch diameter aluminium, but that might be a bit large for a hobbyist all in one machine. I'm in Alaska for a short time, then going to work in Doha, Qatar. I was wanting one I could use in the apartment there.
 

Encap

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Alaskan--have a look at this Shop Fox combo lathe/milling machine --- not expensive $1895.00 and very versitile Shop Fox Combo Lathe/Mill - M1018 - Penn Tool Co., Inc there is a 7" X 12" mini bench lathe as well if you don't need anything bigger Precise 7"x12" Mini Bench Lathes - Penn Tool Co., Inc low cost 9x20" & 11x26" here Birmingham Bench Lathes, 9"x20" & 11"x26" - Penn Tool Co., Inc

Is a good, veteran owned since 1968, company they have 80 pages of lathes--they have tools with tools --- don't get their catalog it will make you nuts creating a long wish list--good luck :beer:
 
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