Billy Hell

40W Chinese Laser - Engrave and Cut Leather - Discuss

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no I only work with soft thin leather for bags and some wallets

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10 hours ago, chuckgaudette said:

no I only work with soft thin leather for bags and some wallets

Ok, thanks for the info.

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I'm keen to upgrade from the basic NEJE JZ-5 model, obviously as its classed as an introduction type machine however unsure which model.

The NEJE only has a 550x550 jpg software work area so increasing the area is just one priority, also the upgrade must have a good customer support along with easily available parts if required, and lastly a compact machine is preferred.

Budget ideally, maximum £250/€300/$330

If anyone has suggestions or recommendations, USB powered too.

I understand if my criteria is very limited, I'm prepared to increase the budget for long term investment.

 

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3 hours ago, Orangeleather said:

If anyone has suggestions or recommendations, USB powered too.

Will not be USB powered as it uses far more power than the USB port can supply.  It should have USB connectivity for programming and operation.

Tom

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3 hours ago, Northmount said:

Will not be USB powered as it uses far more power than the USB port can supply.  It should have USB connectivity for programming and operation.

Tom

Thanks Tom.

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On ‎30‎/‎05‎/‎2018 at 7:56 AM, Mark842 said:

engraving on 5-6 oz chrome oil tanned

I had no luck with chrome tanned leather. The 80watt laser would not cut through half the thickness of the comparable vegtan, and etching came out horribly burnt and distorted on the chrome tan.

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1 hour ago, Rockoboy said:

I had no luck with chrome tanned leather. The 80watt laser would not cut through half the thickness of the comparable vegtan, and etching came out horribly burnt and distorted on the chrome tan

Good info to know. Thanks. I'm beginning to think if I'm going to drop some serious coin on one of these that I am going to have to take a trip across the country with a bag full of the leather we use and get a demonstration.

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Just now, Mark842 said:

a bag full of the leather we use and get a demonstration

Always the best option. Try before you buy, and even then different leather can be pig-in-a-poke!

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Just now, Rockoboy said:

Always the best option. Try before you buy, and even then different leather can be pig-in-a-poke!

Yep, thats the impression I'm getting. Unfortunately I'm 3000 miles away from the two manufacturers here that have the best ratings and have both been around for awhile. Guess I have to add $2K to the cost to take a trip out for research

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4 hours ago, Rockoboy said:

I had no luck with chrome tanned leather. The 80watt laser would not cut through half the thickness of the comparable vegtan

I have found that it takes multiple cuts to get through some leathers, and not always because of the thickness of the leather. I cut chrome tanned and latigo leathers most often, typically in the 4-7 oz. range, and find that it can take as many as 5 passes with a 100-watt CO2 laser to get through the material. I had some stuffed 6 oz. Chromexcel that took 10 passes to cut through. Cutting leather with a laser is just full of surprises. 

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I see Dremel's Digilab laser cutter has appeared via the usual media source.

 

Any thoughts or feedback?

 

Improvement on the Chinese K40?

Edited by Orangeleather

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We are sure making progress in the world of lasers. The only serious comment I have is on the importance of ventilation, which this video does not stress (in fact says you can run this in an enclosed space... that could turn out to be fatal). There was a double fatality in Berkeley last year when two people and their pets were found dead in their apartment. The possible culprit? Their unvented laser cutter.

For price comparison, here is a link to a laser supplier in Sacramento, CA who deals in CO2 lasers. Prices do not include the very important "chiller" which can run another $500, a ventilation fan and associated duct work, or shipping (which can add up).   https://www.lightobject.com/Laser-Machines-C37.aspx

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On 5/28/2018 at 1:18 AM, LatigoAmigo said:

So what did you replace the Chinese laser with? I'm familiar with Trotec lasers and what a wonderful job they can do , but from my experience it appears to be nearly ten times the price of a Chinese equivalent ($36,000 vs. $4,500). 

We moved to a boss laser. We have a ls-1416 65w laser. All in all it was about 6k$. It will cut any size leather in a single pass and does everything we need. Bed is about 17 × 17 inches

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Has anyone cut their own stamps out of delrin? What size laser needed for that?

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13 hours ago, seminole676 said:

Has anyone cut their own stamps out of delrin?

I am not a lase expert, but I am guessing you would need a CNC to cut out stamps.

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Just wanted to chime in.I have attached photos of a 3x3 piece of Veg Tanned we use for our foldover holsters. We laminate a piece of 4 and 3-4,which gives top grained finish inside the holsters and adds rigidity.We have all of our patterns digitized,so i can lay them(Nest) for maximum yield. i use the areas between the holsters to cut out frogs and various other pieces. Some of the pieces shown are bullet loop backing,Holster,Bullet bracelet.Our laser is a 1390 130 watt Rose Graphix laser. We cut the laminated 7-8 oz /20 mm sec at 40%. Sided Veg tanned,9-10 oz for cowboy holsters,20 mm sec at 55%.This tool makes cutting custom shapes a breeze .Chrome tan 5-7 oz , 20 mm per sec@50%, 7-8 Oz 20mm per sec @65%   

To digitize I scanned our paper templates into a corel format. You can then trace the outline of the pattern.On many holsters i just trace one half ,then copy and flip the other half so the sides are perfectly the same.This tool cuts out countless man hrs.When cutting wallet material we increase air flow which keeps from charring the edges. Pigskin or calfskin,we use inert gas (N2 or C02) to shield ,perfect edges. And yes you can manufacture delrin stamps,and engrave 3D effects on your stamps.Also cuts Kydex like Butter. Most important exhaust fan. is a 6",to a  vent on the roof of the building.

DSCN0521[1].JPG

DSCN0522[1].JPG

DSCN0524[1].JPG

Edited by Frankqv
correct spelling

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Slimjim for 4 5/8 single six,Cut Time 32 Sec. 9-10 Oz Veg, 30 mm sec @ 55%  .Total time to load and cut < 2 min.

DSCN0525[1].JPG

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Here's a copy of a post I did a couple of months ago on hobby-machinist.com about my K-40 Laser adventure. It may add a little bit to the discussion, or not.

This isn't really a Project of the Day, it's more a Project of the last 5 Months that I'm finally getting around to writing a journal entry.

Back in December my 'significant other' bought a new business to supplant her copy/print shop - and I subsequently found myself knee deep in making rubber stamps.

As a bit of background, we made rubber stamps about a million years ago, setting hot type slugs on a Linotype machine (Rube Goldberg would be proud), pressing the type into uncured Bakelite and then heat curing it, then pressing unvulcanized rubber into the Bakelite and then heat curing the rubber and finally mounting the cured rubber with raised type onto wood mounts. A long and labor intensive process.

The company she bought had slightly newer technology, exposing photo-sensitive polymer to UV light through a film negative and then washing away the un-cured polymer to make the 'stamp die'. Somewhat more efficient but still very labor intensive and process control was a nightmare.

The latest wrinkle in stamp production is CNC laser burning sheet rubber (or polymer) to make the stamp dies in one step with minimal operator interaction. We knew this going into the business in the first place but suitable laser engravers are $10K and up and making a bad choice would not create domestic harmony.

So, knowing nothing about lasers we bought a 'learner' cheapie system off one of the Asian eBay sellers of what is known as a 'generic K-40 laser engraver'. 40 watt claimed power, 5" x 8" workspace or so. Big enough to learn on. These things are listed eBay for $300 to $2,000 depending on the sophistication of the purchaser and the greed of the seller. As near as I could tell they are all identical, the only perceptible difference being a 'red case' or a 'blue case'.

Picking a cheap one and ordering it was the easy part - find the price from a seller with not terrible feedback, place the order and then wait for the shipment to arrive.

In due course (about 45 days) a giant box arrived with what looked like the pictured laser enclosed. Offloading it to the workshop to play with it was the next step.

So, hook up the laser box, connect the water cooling unit (an aquarium pump) plug it in and turn it on. You could hear a couple of stepper motors whirring inside as the lens carriage searched for the 'home position' limit switches.

Well, uh, why is the motor still whirring? A quick look into the guts revealed the X-Axis belt was lying in the bottom of the unit having pulled loose from its connection to the lens carriage somewhere between Hunan Province and Oregon. Grrr.

Contacting the seller about the problem was the usual Chinese Fire Drill: "Send us a picture." Done. "Send us a video." Done "Send us a video of you singing the finale of The Mikado in Mandarin" (???) All steps designed to delay feedback and get past the warranty. (Warranty??? Ha Ha Ha!)

So, since this was planned as a learning experience, I dove into the machine. It was obviously made of partially recycled tin cans and floor sweepings. My initial reluctance to take it apart was quickly replaced with an exercise in critiquing curious construction techniques. If there was a way to make something cheaply and poorly, these people had found it. Many parts looked hand-made, and not in a good way - but more on that later.

As a production economy move the cog belt driving the mirror/lens carriage was about 2 cogs short of the actual required length to work - apparently held in place by a tiny drop of superglue that gave up the ghost in transit. And taking the carriage apart was made even more challenging by not having any way to access the screws holding it together.

I 3D-printed a longer clamp for the cog belt so it had a chance of actually remaining connected to the carriage - and re-jiggered the end pulley so it was slightly more adjustable for tension -

And of course getting to the belt clamp by working around the pillars that the carriage was mounted with was another challenge; you can almost but not quite get a screwdriver or nutdriver into the approximate vicinity. Three hands would almost be enough.

Put it back together, powered it up and lo and behold - the motors whirred and the carriage found it's home!

The unit came with a bootlegged copy of Corel Draw and some of the crappiest CNC driver software available. Although the label was in Chinese I am sure the brand was "Dumpster Software" and even that organization would not claim authorship except under extreme duress. They require and supply a 'dongle' to get the software to talk to the laser unit - what a joke - as if anyone would want to pirate this bit of excrement!

These laser engravers work by having a laser tube mounted at the back of the machine, then one mirror at a 45 to get the beam into the work area, another 45 mirror on the Y-Axis carriage to send the beam to the lens carriage that moves along the X-Axis - and this carriage holds another 45 mirror and the lens so the beam is directed downward to the work piece.

Theoretically these machines come pre-aligned to put laser energy into a small space and burn up whatever is there. Since I had removed / replaced / removed / replaced all the parts the factory alignment couldn't be verified - but hundreds of YouTube videos testify to the lack of factory alignment - so the next step was aligning the mirrors to get laser energy somewhere near where it would do some cutting. The videos were a great help.

Since these are CO2 lasers and emit infrared energy it doesn't look like they're doing anything when you push the 'test' button. And I didn't really expect it to actually work so I was quite surprised when I put a piece of notebook paper into where the beam should be, pressed the button and a hole magically burned itself into the paper. Note to self: Do not look into laser with remaining eye. (Just kidding, but good advice nonetheless)

After an hour or so of diligent futzing I got the mirrors aligned pretty well - at least well enough to burn holes in cardboard - which I considered a success.

However, it was short lived for my purposes. These lasers have a fixed focus lens and no way to move the workpiece into the focal plane. We would definitely need a Z-Axis unit for fine detail in rubber stamp production. The supplied lens mount was a semi-triangular piece of tin-can sheet metal with a couple of holes in it. To get a tiny bit of Z-Axis movement in this unit I made a new lens holder that would adjustably clamp the mirror/lens unit and allow a tiny bit of vertical movement. Worked like a charm and allowed a lot of experimentation and education on laser engraving.

So, after working on and off on this POS for several months and getting it functioning well enough to figure out what actual engraver specs we needed - I listed the K-40 on our local craigslist and found a buyer who wanted a project and was happy to have a semi-working K-40. Apparently these rarely work and my modifications were a 'plus' to the buyer.

We purchased a very nice TroTec Laser (made in Austria) and we're happily turning out stamps with it. The K-40 is a dim memory. Hallelujah!

I'm sorry I didn't take more pictures of the process. But it was definitely educational.

BrokenBelt.jpg

BeltPulley_1.jpg

ReplacementTensionScrews.jpg

LensTrolleyClearanceHaHa.jpg

X-AxisBeltPulley.jpg

TrolleyNewBeltAnchor.jpg

LaserLensPlate.png

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We purchased a Chinese water cooled laser from Rose Graphix https://bescutter.com/collections/lasers/products/business-level-52x36-co2-laser-cutter-engraver-100w-to-150w  150 w complete with chiller exhaust and rotary attachment. About 10k all in. Could have bought similar off ebay for a few grand less,but this supplier was only 100 miles away from us.Its been flawless.Cut, engrave,2D,3D. The supplier was very good.I suggest anyone that gets a Chinese  laser get the one supplied with Reci laser tube and Ruida Control. The RD works controller software takes 2D, ai ,3D,BMP's files for cut and engrave .Its become a tool that we know can't do without. This machine id made by Baldor in China and is sold through Rose.

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On 5/30/2018 at 3:48 PM, Orangeleather said:

I'm keen to upgrade from the basic NEJE JZ-5 model, obviously as its classed as an introduction type machine however unsure which model.

The NEJE only has a 550x550 jpg software work area so increasing the area is just one priority, also the upgrade must have a good customer support along with easily available parts if required, and lastly a compact machine is preferred.

Budget ideally, maximum £250/€300/$330

If anyone has suggestions or recommendations, USB powered too.

I understand if my criteria is very limited, I'm prepared to increase the budget for long term investment.

 

I would very much like to hear what you ended up getting and how it has worked.   Other than the small work area - were you pleased with the NEJE JZ-5?    It has a low powered laser - so you must have been using it for engraving rather than cutting.   Did it engrave well on vegetable tanned leather?    Would you have been happy with it if it just had a larger work area?   It seems most folks spend $4K - 12K for a good laser cutting/engraving system.   My current interest is in engraving on vegetable tanned leather - I want a fairly large engraving mat size though.    I am looking at other options with 500mw lasers - and wondered how well they would do at engraving on veg tanned leather.    Someday I may find the funds to get a really nice system.

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Gr8legs

Congrats on the Trotec!!

I have had mine for about 2 years and love it.

I cut all kinds of leather (My favorite now is Latigo) for my hand bags and wallets.

We even cut the stitching holes which makes  hand sewing a breeze. They are small diamonds that look like they were made with a stitching chisel.

You will find that the more air you use and the lower Hz the better.

If you have any questions give me a shout out

 

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9 hours ago, foilguru said:

Gr8legs

Congrats on the Trotec!!

I have had mine for about 2 years and love it.

I cut all kinds of leather (My favorite now is Latigo) for my hand bags and wallets.

We even cut the stitching holes which makes  hand sewing a breeze. They are small diamonds that look like they were made with a stitching chisel.

You will find that the more air you use and the lower Hz the better.

If you have any questions give me a shout out

 

Sounds fantastic. What software do you design with?

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Normally at our shop we work with Illustrator but I find Corel much more friendly when it comes to running CAD machines.

Totecs Job control is a printer driver that supports AI and Corel so any file type you can open in these will work fine.

 

 

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