New (Monster) Laser Cutter

What’s up Y’all!!  I’m super excited about this new project/toy.  Prior to our house being broken into I had ordered the brand new ACRO system from the Open Builds Part Store.  It’s a brand new machine bundle from those guys.  My Black Widow 3D Printer utilized Open Builds parts and I really like it and feel very comfortable with it.  I planned for this laser to be just like my popular (for me) last laser engraver that I upgraded to laser cutter except giant.  I was contemplating back and forth about whether or not to order it and I had had a rough day at work and My Lady said go ahead and so it was a vulnerable combination for me and my wallet.  Haha.  I ordered the version that is 1500mm by 1000mm on the aluminum extrusion.  I haven’t fully figured out how big the build area will be quite yet, but it’s huge considering I can get about 12″ x 12″ on my older one.  I used the original z axis ball screw I bought which I intended for my original laser engraver/cutter, but this one was too massive for that laser.  I attached this 5.5W laser to it.  With being able to cut through wood with a 2.5W laser, albeit very slowly, I’m super excited for what I’ll be able to do with 5.5W.  Instead of using mechanical endstop switches for the x and y axes, for this one I thought to use inductive switches.  I used the same type of laser controller that I reconfigured on my other laser cutter.  While waiting for my stolen computer to be replaced, I strangely had to use my own blog to help myself recreate the firmware. I was able to do it so hopefully my posts are something more coherent than ramblings, haha.   Using the ACRO build instruction video, this machine was incredibly easy to assemble.  I had it mechanically built in one evening after work.  The controller is still not in a box so it’s a serious mess in the middle while I’m still configuring all of the settings.  I’ll also try and figure out a laser shielding box, but this one is going to have to live in the garage.  Here are a couple of the initial shots:

So for those of you metrically challenged like me, 1500mm x 1000mm is huge.  I had to set almost a whole sheet of melamine on top of my desk so just to get it assembled and configured.  Once it was mechanically assembled I added the inductive endstop switches.  A quick note on these inductive endstop switches.  I went on a crusade of making a voltage divider that was ultimately wasted effort.  I accidentally bought the 10-30V versions as opposed to 5V versions, but it didn’t matter.  Providing 5 volts to the inductive switch only made the disengage output ~1.8V which the controller won’t read as 5V, but it doesn’t matter because while 1.8V is not 5V it is also not Ground which is what the endstop needs to sense when it engages from an inductive presence, i.e. aluminum extrusion or the heat sink for the laser in my case.

I’m still definitely in experimentation mode but my first tests have been super promising.  On the 2.5W laser from my other engraver I had to go about 150mm/min to go about .250mm deep and then layer accordingly.  On the 5.5W laser in a first test I went 1400mm/min to go .5mm deep.  Also, on the 2.5W laser I had to do three passes wide per layer to do a pass.  I tried the same test on the 5.5W laser and even going faster and cutting deeper the single kerf width still cut fine.  I’m dictating all of these settings via the 3D model, S3D and a VBA script to adjust the outputted GCODE from S3D.  You can find that script here.  This enhancement of laser will allow me to go much faster than my little one.  Not to mention that I can do at least a quarter sheet of plywood as my build area.  One thing I noticed was that the inertia from the gantry was so much that it shifted the entire laser cutter.  You can see the result of the shifting on the batman symbol below.  I wound up having to clamp the laser engraver to the melamine that I have resting on my desk in the interim.

The laser is pretty terrifying and beautiful.  (All precautions still exist, please use goggles!!!)  I took some pictures and video from my phone and you can see the beam through the air going down into the wood.  It’s awesome.  Honestly I really don’t know what I’m going to make with this laser cutter, but the possibilities are endless and I’m about to have some fun!!

Here’s a super short video just for grins.  (Literally my first upload to YouTube, don’t make fun of me too bad…)

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