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Laser Etching Equipment?

shintashi

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Hi!

So I built this 3D printer last week, and designed a neat doodad in blender, but woe is me, for the doodad is going to require a resolution of about 0.08-0.1mm, while my printer is only 0.4mm resolution at a really slow speed.

So I decided it might be better to just set the blank doodads down, the bigger portions machined on a lathe, and then laser etch the fine details. (like designer ring type stuff).

So I did a bit of background research, and it looks like I want whats called YAG or something similar, so i can have free range of not just stainless and aluminum, but also precious metals like gold. Apparently I want 50 watts to have a go at the precious stuff, but only need about 25 or 30 to tackle stainless.

I know very little about all of this, as I haven't worked with a laser above 2 watts, and know little about bench lasers. I'm on a shoe string budget, but not afraid of DIY.
 

diachi

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I know very little about all of this, as I haven't worked with a laser above 2 watts, and know little about bench lasers. I'm on a shoe string budget, but not afraid of DIY.
You say "shoe string budget" - can you give us a rough number?
 

shintashi

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You say "shoe string budget" - can you give us a rough number?
well let's just say i was interested in watch making until i saw these prices.
Bergeon Lathes
($11,989.00-$35,136.00). I then abandoned watch making, despite being pretty good with gear arrangements and clockwork.

I find anything below $300 to be affordable, anything below $1000 to be something I hope is worth more if I have to DIY, and above $2000 to perform miracles or I stay away from it.

Laser stuff is priced all over the place. I just need a laser system that can etch razor thin markings on metal. If I have to assemble the stepper motors and so forth, and then put in some G code or whatever, I'm cool with that. If not, I'll find something on instructibles and scale up from there.

The surface area I want to work with isn't very big... like coins through apples in size. So if there's a mini machine, That's perfect.
 

shintashi

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those seem affordable, though 40 watts is pushing the envelop of whether i can cut precious metals (like writing names or phrases on jewelry), is it is true that I need 50 watts, and if so, does the price inflate like the Weimar Republic?
 

wmgeorge

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I own a 50 watt ULS commercial CO2 laser, it will not engrave metal except maybe anodized aluminum. It can mark stainless and polished carbon steel with a special spray applied to the metal first. YAG or Fiber lasers will do what you want, but starting prices for a Chinese machine are about $9,000 USD, a 50 watt could be $30k on up.

FYI The POS K40 CO2 machines on eBay are $500 but real output is about 30 watts or less. Yes if you put another $500 or so in the machine its usable, but once again not for engraving metal.

Laser types link > http://www.troteclaser.com/en-US/Support/FAQs/Pages/Laser-Types.aspx
 
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shintashi

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I own a 50 watt ULS commercial CO2 laser, it will not engrave metal except maybe anodized aluminum. It can mark stainless and polished carbon steel with a special spray applied to the metal first. YAG or Fiber lasers will do what you want, but starting prices for a Chinese machine are about $9,000 USD, a 50 watt could be $30k on up.

FYI The POS K40 CO2 machines on eBay are $500 but real output is about 30 watts or less. Yes if you put another $500 or so in the machine its usable, but once again not for engraving metal.

Laser types link > Comparison of different Laser Types - CO2, Fiber Laser, Vanadat, Yag
Would something like this work?

Newest 20W Desktop Potable Mini Fiber Laser Making Machine ENGRAVER Maker | eBay

I found this company from them, listed here:
Cole Technology Co.,Ltd.

$5,600 is still horrifying, but more in the realm of Real than the Rofin that costs $61,000.

I figured out how to program a basic laser etching pattern with an arduino. You just use an oscillator to wobble the beam and then turn it on and off using your Pulse Width Modulation control, which would be a line resolution of 1000 points/pixels, and then a stepper motor would allow it to "print" line by line. Then again, I don't know how stable that would be flickering on and off like that, I'm sure engineers have some other way of doing it. I presume lasers aren't stable like that, and probably have to be more "on", right? Like, i can't flicker them on an off?

I'm trying to understand how they do this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGAfc8LS-QI

like, how they miss one part of the line they cut, then cut the next part, then miss the next part. Is there something obstructing the beam, or is the beam being turned on and off quickly?
 
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diachi

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Would something like this work?

Newest 20W Desktop Potable Mini Fiber Laser Making Machine ENGRAVER Maker | eBay

I found this company from them, listed here:
Cole Technology Co.,Ltd.

$5,600 is still horrifying, but more in the realm of Real than the Rofin that costs $61,000.

I figured out how to program a basic laser etching pattern with an arduino. You just use an oscillator to wobble the beam and then turn it on and off using your Pulse Width Modulation control, which would be a line resolution of 1000 points/pixels, and then a stepper motor would allow it to "print" line by line. Then again, I don't know how stable that would be flickering on and off like that, I'm sure engineers have some other way of doing it. I presume lasers aren't stable like that, and probably have to be more "on", right? Like, i can't flicker them on an off?

I'm trying to understand how they do this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGAfc8LS-QI

like, how they miss one part of the line they cut, then cut the next part, then miss the next part. Is there something obstructing the beam, or is the beam being turned on and off quickly?
You can turn the lasers on and off directly - at least for diode/DPSS lasers - gas lasers not so much. Solid state lasers are often capable of very high modulation speeds.
 

shintashi

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You can turn the lasers on and off directly - at least for diode/DPSS lasers - gas lasers not so much. Solid state lasers are often capable of very high modulation speeds.
I've only built diode lasers outside of a class room. I presume CO2 is a gas laser (red/infra, right?), and YAG/Yttrium Doped are the Fiber lasers, and those are Solid states?

Is there is a fiber laser kit i can use to cut down my costs? I used a 3D printer kit to DIY the printer, and successfully printed a working crescent wrench (1st attempt, worked).

tons of the same equipment used for laser etching is used in 3D printing, if only i can get the laser portion. I'm confused as to why a 30-50 watt laser of any kind would cost so much money. I thought fiber lasers were supposed to be cheaper than one of the other alternatives (with CO2 the cheapest)
 

wmgeorge

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The eBay one is interesting. 20 Watts is not a lot of power but the price is right. With the lower power it would take longer or more passes. It would be interesting to find someone who had one?
The really big issue is the Seller. I have had Chinese eBay venders lie to me and then the other ploy is act dumb, like they don't know what your talking about? Getting repairs and support or parts if needed is a real killer for a high dollar item like that.
 

shintashi

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i get the feeling the prices are artificially high as some sort of trade secret/patent thing. 3D printers used to be super expensive too, then the patents expired, and prices have dropped 1-2 orders of magnitude.

if a prefab fiber is 5600-16000, shouldn't a kit be like 1800-4000 or less?
 




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