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Need a laser to burn paint -NOT PCB's

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Hey guys I thought I'd register and ask here for hopefully some quick suggestions. I'm working on a tool to take to work doing construction where I need to mark the metal decking for various locations.

I know using a laser to etch metal is not reasonable but I was thinking about using spray paint with a light spray to mark the general area and then use a laser to more precisely burn the exact location in the paint. I'm not looking to burn the paint away specifically; just an extremely noticeable burn mark will work and would be preferable. I've read 405nm is best, correct me if I'm wrong.

I'm looking for:
module diameter <~3/8"
can run on AAA's or AA's - doesn't matter if I need up to 8 or so in any configuration of parallel, series or series parallel.
can burn the paint in about 1 second
precision needed is not an issue - the laser dot is already much smaller than my minimum requirement! (up to 1/4" burn mark)
would need to make ~ 500 marks/day, last ~6 months-1 year+

The laser would only be on for ~1 second to make the burn mark about once a minute. Ideally I don't want to have to add any extra electronics other than a momentary switch to activate it; ie no voltage regulators etc. but if necessary then that's workable.

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Most of my time is spent designing other aspects of this tool. If this isn't a viable option I'll end up using just a normal low powered laser so I know where to mark with a Sharpie. Thanks guys and I'm looking forward to your suggestions!
 

Laser Chick

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Hi MeltManBob, you gave a lot of good information on what you need but have 3 questions.
1. How far away or the distance needed to do the marking?
2. Is the surface needing to be marked on the metal decking portable or not? Such as are you marking the decking directly or say a 4" x 4" sheet metal plate that gets mounted onto the decking later?
3. You did not give your location as that is important as to what can or cannot be shipped to you.

Welcome to the forum :wave:
 
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I'm in the US, sorry about that.

A CNC engraver is not a viable option. First the deck is not flat; it's about 4 inches of flat, then a downward slope to another 4 inches of flat about 3 inches lower than the high flat, then an upward slope towards the next high flat section. This variation only goes in one direction on the deck such as East/West. Also the pre-marking with the paint is much easier for the guys coming behind me to find so they know where to drill or install things.

The whole tool has to be light as I have to pick it up and move 1'-12' to each new spot and I'm already pretty quick with just using a leveling pole and marking by hand the bottom point of the pole. The main part of this tool is an articulated arm that will clamp to the pole with a reach of ~12" so I don't have to get the pole exactly to the point on the ground, just within 12". The point of the paint and laser would be to eliminate the need to bend down and mark by hand while trying to not knock over the pole or knock it out of level.

The decking is not portable, it's essentially the installed floor which eventually the concrete will be poured on to.

The distance I need to mark from is no more than 6' but usually closer to <3'.

Thanks guys for the quick reply's, hopefully this additional information will help out better.
 

Laser Chick

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Would you be able to use black paint or a dark colored paint?
Then again, the burn mark might not show up on black as good as it would on white or yellow paint.
You will need to use the absolutely most powerful laser that you can get, probably around a 3 watt 445nm laser being powered by 2 rechargeable 18650 batteries.
It might be able to run on AA or AAA batteries but you would have to stack them up and use a long battery tube to get any type of run time out of them. There are other members here that are much, much, much better than me on designing and building so I will leave that up to them, sorry.
If there are other workers near by you as you use the laser that will not be safe for their eyes though.
If you notice, other members have not chimed in as I am guessing they do not think it is a possible application.
I understand what you need but for that powerful of a laser and that close you will need to wear safety goggles other wise you will permanently harm your eyes. Then you will not see what you are doing as the goggles block out a fair amount of your sight unless there is good lighting available.
I don't want to be negative about it but then I do not want to promote this idea and then it does not work. Maybe you can borrow a laser or get a laser where it can be returned is it does not do the required application.

What would be nice is if a member here has a 3W+ laser, can you please spray a bit of black & a bit of white paint on a scrap piece of metal and see if it will mark the paint from say a foot away and how long it takes to help out MeltManBob? Thanks!! :)
 




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