LASER CUTTER my experience with a 15W laser cutter.

So I decided that the trade balance wasn't great enough so last year I purchased a 15W laser DIY Laseraxe cutter that rides on a 1000 mm square (40" x40") aluminum frame from China.

Thus, I needed a large flat space that I set up as a large folding shelf in my garage. Telling my wife that it will FOLD-UP and therefore be out of the way. So far it has not been folded up.

First, a 15-watt laser may seem high compared to a laser pointer and is fine for engraving wood, metal, leather, etc. but when cutting wood not so great.

Second, although the Chinese makers claimed it would cut 3mm ( 1/8) plywood; sure after 10 passes at the lowest speed of 28m(m)ps but to do that the laser chars the wood so that the design becomes a small crispy critter. Plywood has glue that inhibits a clean burn, so it's better to cut pure Poplar or other clean grain wood sheets at 2mm thickness.

Third, the Laseraxe software ( see you-tube) is for the most part in Chinese. I wish they had stolen better American Software than trying to write it themselves. It's not good or well written. Even in the latest edition that was just released , the pull-down menus are  cut-off at the bottom buttons.

So I was forced to overcome these flaws. And I got the cutter to work cutting multiple and exactly the same small truss pieces and engraving "extremely straight" control joints in Masonite sidewalks both thru a bit of trial-and-error. 

Their CNCC software ( last version)  will take any .jpeg file and convert it to G-Code to try and minimize cut time. It is not GOOD G-CODE that uses the various G-Code mnemonics to create circles or arcs but instead creates x/y coordinates that do a good job to simulate a circle or arc at a resolution of 0.1 mm.

As to SMELL OF BURNING WOOD; well the Laser has a fan that will dissipate the odor but I do keep the garage doors open. 

 

 

AlanHN

Original Post

I was an engineer at a laser manufacture once upon a time.  I wouldn't use anything under 30W for this hobby, for many of the reasons you listed (Our biggest combined two 75W lasers for 150W total.).  One of my co-workers was into table top war games, and made many things on his spare time for it using Masonite, plastic, and balsa wood.  That included control panels with markings.  It was pretty amazing once he had it assembled and painted.  I want to do wood decks for my box cars and flat cars, and to make buildings, but I never got around to it before I left.  I wish there were more options for low cost easy to use higher power hobby lasers.

This thread got me curious what a laser would cost to cut metal. Looks like upwards of 6 figures, maybe a little less. Cutting wood products though is much less though I am still not sure I could justify the investment. 

Searching on "metal cutting lasers" will bring up a number of companies that make these though. 

Pete

I dont have the specs or latest catalog but MicroMark was advertising a Laser cutter. Might be worth checking out. Even if your cutting is more than a one-off need you might be better suited having someone like Andre Garcia do the cutting for you. on occasion I have had Andre custom cut pieces for me.

Steve

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