Laser Engraver Upgraded to Laser Cutter!!

I’ve been having a ton of fun ever since I upgraded my laser engraver.  It all started with experimenting with customizing a 3d printer controller.  Adding the laser shielding box helped a ton as well, and then the other big time help was using and remixing an Inkscape plugin.  When I wrote a python script to try out different speeds on the laser engraver for purposes of greyscale I noticed that going realllly slow makes for a discernible amount cutting depth.  Since I’m already using a 3d printer controller as my laser controller I knew it would be really easy to add an adjustable Z axis to put the laser on .  I scoured the internet and found the EleksMaker Z axis adjustable laser holder.  I bought it and (very impatiently) waited.

While I was waiting for the delivery I experimented with different settings for cutting depth and speed for my 2.5W laser.  I used Simply3D to create the GCODE and adjust the settings.  I thought this deserved it’s own post.

(Sorry for my terrible handwriting on the notes…)  One of the first things that I noticed were that the outside shells cut much cleaner than “infill”.  You can see on the side view that the middle parts are deeper and irregular compared to mostly shells.  Going as slow as 50mm/min can get as deep as 1mm, but geez… it’s painful to see the laser going that slow.  I experimented with multiple passes for a wider kerf and varying the speeds.  You can see that with going as fast as 300 mm/min I had to punch out the block making for broken edges.

I was so excited when the Z axis adjuster came in; I went straight to work.  I guess not many people have bought this thing yet because that aren’t any instructions and I haven’t seen it on anybody else’s lasers yet.  I guessed putting it together which was not hard at all.  Unfortunately/oddly I had to use it quite differently than the EleksMaker folks intended.

I completely left off the lower laser holder and the extruded aluminum altogether.  Between the lead screw and the 8mm rod on the bearings it has enough stability, but really the reason was that it was in the way of the rest of my laser’s gantry.  My laser engraver is pretty standardized, but not quite as standardized as other laser engravers that use exclusively 2040 extruded aluminum.  I had to use some spare pieces and some extra brackets from Makeblock, but with these I got it added super clean and easy, albeit without half of what came with the kit.  I maybe could have pieced out a few different pieces to get what I needed for cheaper, but no big deal.  Here’s a couple pics of it installed and the first thing I tried.  (I had my laser shielding glasses in front of the camera lens for the green ones.)

I need to keep experimenting with settings, but I did get my first couple of pieces cut completely through.

In an effort to FORCE something to work I went overboard on the settings and the star actually cut too deep.  I keep a piece of cardboard underneath the workpiece and the star cut through that too.  Whoops…, but at least I know it’s possible.  Here’s a pic with the cut star from 1/4″ wood and the cardboard that was underneath it too.  Haha.  For the one that I super forced I set up the STL such that it was taller than the piece of wood and I made the kerf three times the laser pinpoint width.  It’s

 

I need to keep experimenting but I was excited to share!!  Let me know what y’all think!

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