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What wavelength to use for cutting /etching various materials

BobW55

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I have searched all over the forum, and can not as of yet find a good answer to this.
I want to cut and etch paper backed foam board with a diode NOT a Co2 laser. Yes Co2 would be the perfect choice, but very cost prohibitive to cut a 20"x30" sheet of foam board.
From what I have been able to read/google. Sounds like a 405nm laser @1 watt or better would work. Biggest 405nm module (laser/driver/heat sink) I have found "claims" to be 1.5 watts.
does someone have a link to show what wavelengths/power are best to do this with.
Can you recommend some companies to contact or even send samples to? I don't mind spending a few $$ on the module (needs to be controllable via pwm) if it will work. I know there are now a few claimed 15000mw 450nm laser modules out there, but I am willing to bet they are 7-8 watts and not sure if 450nm will cut the white foam part of the board.

Suggestions/links?
 
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Immo1282

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The 455nm diodes can be a lot more powerful - but you have two issues using them. Firstly, white materials less strongly absorb the radiation from a 455nm diode compared to a 405 - but this is comparatively negligible. The real issue using strong Multimode 455nm diodes is their divergence and beam specifications. These diodes produce a rectangular spot and have high divergence - so when you focus them down you will get a much less clean dot (resulting in a wide kerf instead of a narrow one).

You also may have issues with the laser burning the paper - CO2 lasers have an incredibly narrow beam the way they're configured in laser cutting machines, and given their high power, they also move around very fast.

Have you considered an x-acto knife? /s
 

BobW55

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This is "SUPPOSEDLY" a 450nm diode @15000 mw, like I said probably closer to 8000 mw.
I cut the stuff by knife now, but it involves placing the pattern on the board, holding it in place, slicing finger on new blade, cleaning up the mess and cutting.
Since my original post, I have also found a place that sells the same stuff but with a black paper and foam insert.
Being able to print the plans to a cutter will be so much easier.
But if I win the LOTTO, I will get a Co2 machine.
If someone comes out with a 3-5 watt IR module or any other wavelength that will cut this stuff would be my hero.
 

Immo1282

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For white paper - an IR laser really is your best option AFAIK...

If the paper and internal foam was black, any single-mode 405 diode in a cutting module would most likely do the job for you.
 

Immo1282

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The reason you won't find good 2-3W 405nm lasers is that single mode 405nm diodes are only really avaliable up to around 1-1.2W - but you can focus them far tighter than a 445nm.

If you want raw power - you need to go for a 445nm unit - but you're going to be left with a thick line and burnt paper either way... White materials are properly tricky to cut with diode lasers
 

BobW55

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While we are at it, I have so 3+ glasses, where is a good place to get some shielding plastic. Building an enclosure for this thing but need a window to view through. I have searched a few places, but doubt it is quality stuff.
 
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I've seen foam like the one you have described cut on a universal laser cutter, this was before I got into lasers so I didn't know much back then but it housed an IR laser module, I don't know exact wattage. However like Immo said, I was thinking other wavelengths would burn this material. As for shielding plastic, check this out https://jtechphotonics.com/?product=445nm-laser-shielding I have been here before when looking for a similar material, you can also just try searching for acrylic laser safety windows/sheets.
 




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