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Wood burning Laser suggestions

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I do artistic woodburning and the idea of using a laser for the finer details has intrigued me. I admit I am a complete noob to the Laser arena. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for a good commercially available laser for this option. I have seen some good DIY videos on the internet but am concerned that my soldering skills are not up to the task.

1) are these types of lasers limited to the handlheld "pointer" style or are their "desktop" plug in versions.

any info to help me on my way is appreceated. Cheers!
 

Sigurthr

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Any laser capable of burning wood will be exceptionally dangerous to your (and others') eyesight. It most certainly can be done and there are lasers more suited to it than the handheld visible ones many of us have.

I'd recommend doing a TON of reading up on laser safety, and then looking into purchasing a basic CO2 Laser kit AND CO2 LASER GOGGLES. You shouldn't need a large tube at all for burning wood, and they're simple to assemble. You just need an apropriate power supply, a simple pet supply water pump, circulating tank, some tubing, a housing/stand for the laser tube, and maybe a focusing lens depending on the tube.
 
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I don't think a Co2 would be good for finer details. They are usually 10W + and difficult to manoeuvre.

A nice 445 1W would do it, depending on the medium, look in the Buy, Sell, Trade section.

Or a 405, they seem to have better focusing abilities.
 
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Sigurthr

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Aye, I was thinking that since they asked if there are other options than handheld, they might prefer to move the work piece and not the tool.

One problem with handheld 445's for burning is the duty cycle and the battery drain. I can see how an intricate piece could take several hours of burning time. Most lithiums take several hours to charge, and a 1W+ 445 will suck em dry in minutes.

I think Bluefan makes multi-watt 445 lab modules though, that would work.

As far as focusing goes...
I've seen industrial CO2 lasers focused down to 1/32 of an inch, so I know they can focus well. In one of the shops I worked at they had a huge sheet of steel that was etched by a CNC CO2 laser, had a harley davidson bike burnt into it.

Anyway, another reason for IR (CO2) over 445nm would be that you wouldn't be able to see much of what you're doing if you were using a highly visible wavelengh for burning. Between the safety goggles and the backscatter/reflection from the laser, you wouldn't be able to see well. Even with only 200mW of 650nm, I can barely see what I'm doing in a well lit room when I engrave using my burning laser. Yes, I am wearing OD6 goggles.
 

DrSid

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Most goggles for 445nm are rather transparent in red, some even in yellow color. I think it should be usable for engraving.
 
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My thoughts on the desktop concept was to be able to plug it in rather then being limited by battry time. Woodburns are pretty time consuming. You are typically sitting at a workbench anyway. Having the tool be penlike is a plus. Wasn't sure if such a thing as a pen laser with a power chord existed.....
 

qumefox

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To do what you want to do will almost require a fiber coupled laser of some type. There is no way to get enough heat dissipation in a pen type host for a diode powerful enough to burn wood at any decent rate.
 
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another issue with handhelds besides battery drain is duty cycle. Most handhelds have poor heat sinking and leaving them on for extended periods can damage the diode.
I would say that your best bet would be to go with something like this laser
get yourself a 3.7v power supply and attach it to the spring and case if you want it to be powered by a cord.
make sure you get some good goggles too, you will spend a good amount on these. Somthing like these would work really well, you cold probably find some cheaper if you look around. I recommend about OD5.
 

magmabeam

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You should contact companies that offer laser cutting/engraving, and ask if you could use them with training. Won't be cheap though. But the laser you are looking for are in the $1000+ range. Well, a programmable one which would be best.
 

BShanahan14rulz

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You can use a diode laser focused for close-up work, but the limitation to that is it will only burn at a set distance. Any farther or closer and it will not burn as well and will be more spread out. Think of the beam as being bordered by a giant X. The energy is focused the most when the beam is the smallest, at the middle of the x.

I think it would be simpler to just stick with classical wood burning tools. If you do go the laser route, I'd recommend a high power blu-ray focusable laser. I have one that was advertised as 10mW that can mark wood when focused, but it's slow going. I.E. it takes a few minutes to write a single letter in maybe ~18pt font.

Fiber-coupled would be a cool solution, but it will be a little more complicated and expensive to make, but you'd have more control over the output and heat dissipation is taken care of by the stationary unit. Fiber-coupled lasers often only come in IR flavors, though, and that can be more dangerous for someone new to lasers.

My vote is for the classical wood burning pen, but if you HAVE to use a laser, I'd pick the blu-ray focusable because it will be relatively inexpensive and not that much of a setback. You will be able to see if moving up to a better design and more power is a good idea or not based on the results you see with the blu-ray.

What sorta doodads you makin'?
 
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I do sketches of people, landscapes, wildlife. mostly made with and idividual in mind. the hardest part is finding a subject that is really high contrasty and still looks good. I am imagining a combination of woodburning tools with a laser. laser seems ideal for the really find detail stuff whereas the good old fashion woodburning pen will do most of the heavy lifting.... All great information here. gonna have to do some more study. the IR sounds cool but dangerous. I got kids around so am a little leary of having that stuff around. I like the lockout ones that have been suggested. I am not really into the industrial "glorified photo copier" style stuff as that is less artistic and personalized. but thats just me....
 
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