Wow, eBay saved searches really paid off …again.
This time I bagged an a4 laser cutter. It’s a lot like the typical 40w Chinese k40 models out there, but has a more refined layout inside, and also has air assist built in.
I paid £100, but the twist is it came with a huge box of sheets - large number of a4 perspex/acrylic and also some birch ply. I’m pretty sure I can recoup most of the cost of the cutter by selling the acrylic - sweet. The problem is the control board is proprietary and the software sucks hard. Ramps upgrade possible later.
I may hold off putting a 2.8w engraving laser on the MPCNC for a while now!
If you see any free Haas milling machines let me know. Reminds me a little of this video.
Nice build and good skills but the claim about finding the stepper motors and controller in a junk yard is hard to believe.
Wow, the control board / software for this thing absolutely sucks.
Looks like I have two options, RAMPS or Smoothieboard. There’s good info out there for upgrading to both, but it seems RAMPS will be fine to me. This will be needed to really exploit this machine. The way things are now, there is no way to run gcode, no way to program the current, eg for 3d engraving (using grayscale), and eventually I might consider putting z on a motion system.
Here’s the listing anyway:
The real thing, all working:
I counted 45 sheets of acrylic, looks like these retail at £4+ new. All with film on. Some ply / MDF sheets too:
Two things to notice about the listing, he put it on as a ‘Lazer printer’. Hopeless. No one could have found this.
Secondly he goes for collection only from a tiny town in the boon docks (happens to be 30mins drive from me).
I told the guy I could have sold it for much more, but he was obviously not short of money and didn’t care.
Searching ebay for local collection only items is a win.
I wonder if anyone experienced with laser engraving can help.
The new laser is engraving and cutting very nicely, but I want variable power.
I was just on the point of going for a RAMPS upgrade, when I discovered this kickstarter:
What’s attractive is they make an Arduino shield which has the connectors to make the upgrade close to plug and play. But also that they claim that you need 16 bit resolution for really nice engraving, and they’ve addressed this by updating the Arduino.
My dilemma is that I’m having trouble imagining more than 8 bits is necessary for engraving nicely dynamic images, but can’t seem to find any discussions on this.
You should have variable power.
I’m not sure what the kickstarter is all about, I have kinda lost my appetite for those projects. This looks to be very specifically for a k40, Some people hate the included board, mine seems fine and if it dies I will replace it with one of the boards we use more commonly around here.
As far as the 16 bit, I am not positive, but I think Leo69 did something to increase the resolution with the ramps. The problem is for cutting you want as high of power as possible for etching you actually need way less power. So instead of having 255 levels of grey we had less since we only used 10% power so we had, say 25, levels of grey. Leo worked his magic and made a video and posted the code.
By variable power, I mean digitally controlled. I’m fairly sure this machine only allows power levels to be set via the potentiometer on the control panel rather than from the controller board. It’s not a k40 it’s true, but there’s some commonality according to what I’ve found.
Maybe there is a little bit of snake oil in the project - they seem to leave out some detail and compare the original k40 potential with their 16 bit system rather than comparing a standard Arduino adapted machine.
I think I found Leo69’s stuff, thanks.
I won’t be taking up the Kickstarter Gerbil thing. They don’t respond to emails, bad sign for a project like this.
Also thanks to the work of leo69, Downunder35m, Bryan and others, it’s clear you can do this fine with a standard RAMPS approach.
I will admit I’ve got the laser bug, and it has to be a big cutter now 40w minimum. Started looking at the build area - so much wasted space, how about a v-slot linear motion replacement. And of course people have done it.
It got me thinking though, now I understand these cutters, it wouldn’t be a stretch to build one around an MPCNC platform.
I’m thinking the enclosure could be made from t-slot extrusion. I can get that stuff really cheap just around the corner from my house.
There are plenty of build logs around for massive diy lasers, but using the MPCNC as the motion platform would make it fun!
I am super on the fence about this one. They are dirt cheap to buy whole, but other than the tube, power supply and two physical switches, I would not reuse any of it. If a tiny work area wasn’t a big deal, just buy one and deal with it (like all those etsy shops selling laser earrings). Building it will bring the price up but I am sure the quality and capabilities will be much higher as well.
I think a really detailed spreadsheet might help with this, every single part that you will need, vs buying a decent one. The good one I found was $3k, but it was a step up in all parts including a movable Z axis (super crucial).
If I make one I will base my comparison on this, http://www.lightobject.com/High-Speed-Desktop-40W-CO2-Laser-Engraving-Machine-wZ-Table-P1061.aspx
I’ve been messing with the Fusion 360 slicer - cool stuff. When you see the possibilities with this and a bunch cardboard it makes you want more build area than A4
Of course you can cut larger shapes with the MPCNC in router mode, but a bigger laser cutting area would be nice too.
I take your point about tracking build costs, but I am thinking along the lines of using all the junk from a recycled k40 and adding a RAMPS setup, then just going bigger. If I thought it would be close to 3 grand I wouldn’t do it.