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On ‎15‎/‎01‎/‎2019 at 5:37 AM, dikman said:

you've definitely got some hidden geeky nerd in you!

Not so hidden, I reckon! :lol:

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On 15/01/2019 at 7:37 AM, dikman said:

Brian, mate, you've definitely got some hidden geeky nerd in you!:lol:

Yeah I been starting to worry bout that a bit :wub:. In my defence I have to say this really has been one of the simplest and fun projects that I have ever done.

  I've been trying to rush through a couple of improvements to free up the 3D printer for some other jobs that are waiting. Since getting the laser I have found I need it to be running nearly non stop and the original design is only intended for hobby use and should not be run at full power for longer than 20 minutes or so. This has to be done by allowing the laser to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before starting again. I am guilty of going past this time way too much. Keeping the laser running cool is a big thing in how long that diode will last. Another factor is air assisted cutting will make it cut more efficiently and quicker. Keeping the smoke off of the diode lens is another big point to remember ass well. For cutting thick leathers requires multiple passes or you gets a lot of burning /cindering on the edges. Being able to drop the laser down on these passes at say a1mm at a time is also a great advantage. I have been able to just do a few passes around without a drop down adjustment but I am sure that is a pretty inefficient way to go.  Following is my answer to these problems and is what I am working on at the moment. The first thing to improve was the diode cooling  and I noticed that the 2.5 Watt Eleksmakers fan can not really get any air to blow down the sides of the cooling fins and the centre of the holding block is solid . See pictures -  

DSC04549_resize.JPGDSC04550_resize.JPG

I concluded a larger cooling fan on the top was needed and therefore why not encase the block in a shroud and force the air down over the fins and then funnel that air to get some air assistance at the same time. Your only trying to burn stuff down there anyway!!! Here is the shroud part with some recesses for nuts to locate the laser block into place.

DSC04507_resize.JPG

I decided to make the funnel part connect with magnets and forgot to take a separate picture of the print so I will show some a bit later. The next thing is to design a Z lift mechanism that does not takes up any of the cutting area. The only Z lift I could get come with the cost of a lot of the cutting area. This next part stays with shroud and has the holes for the guide rails.

DSC04536_resize.JPG

DSC04539_resize.JPG

Next shows the fit is good

DSC04540_resize.JPG

Bolts screwed in and they work great

DSC04541_resize.JPG

This pic shows the main body of the Z lift which will replace the acrylic piece that presently holds the laser body. Note I have mounted the fan and also a temperature gauge to the shroud section. Also note the button section that moves up and down on the thread is a tight fit into the hole on the slider attached now to the shroud. DSC04547_resize.JPG

This back picture shows the button has a recess to receive a nut that allows the Z movement.

DSC04542_resize.JPG

This one shows the magnet attaching funnel. This is needed to allow ease of focussing if needed. With the Z lift that should be fairly rare I think. This also shows that the 5 Watt laser fits in to the shroud as well and the big bunch of heat sink and electrical looking stuff on the right is actually for the 5 watt laser.I am doing 2 shrouds to allow for quick change over whenever that may be required.

DSC04545_resize.JPG

Although I have designed this to have a Z lift motor at the top which will allow manual movement with it, I have for now also made another piece that can clip into the top for manual adjustment. I have not ordered in the 3 axis power board thing yet and I am still waiting for the Nema 17 motor to come in as well.

DSC04557_resize.JPG

DSC04558_resize.JPG
DSC04561_resize.JPG

So far everything seems to be testing alright and I hope to do some in place testing later on this week.

Thanks to all of you who come in with experience and advise and help to contribute. Brian

 

 

Edited by RockyAussie
mistake

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Brian, you have just proved, without a shadow of a doubt, that you are indeed a NERD!:lol:

Excellent job, I would think there is a market out there for such upgrade/mods, however given you also have a "day job" it's probably too much trouble to explore such an option. What's the LCD on the side for?

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1 hour ago, dikman said:

What's the LCD on the side for?

That is the temperature gauge. I got 4 of them out of China for about $3.00 each and they all look to be very accurate. I did a 15 minute test yesterday at full power in the standard without shroud mode and to my surprise it went from 30.7 degrees C up to 45.7 Degrees. I am hoping to see some results with the shroud and top fan sometime later this week. After I see how it all performs I will consider whether to make any up for sale I guess. Great thing about the printer is it keeps working while I carry on doing other work.:rockon:

DSC04553_resize.JPG

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On 2/3/2019 at 3:05 PM, RockyAussie said:

That is the temperature gauge. I got 4 of them out of China for about $3.00 each and they all look to be very accurate. I did a 15 minute test yesterday at full power in the standard without shroud mode and to my surprise it went from 30.7 degrees C up to 45.7 Degrees. I am hoping to see some results with the shroud and top fan sometime later this week. After I see how it all performs I will consider whether to make any up for sale I guess. Great thing about the printer is it keeps working while I carry on doing other work.:rockon:

DSC04553_resize.JPG

This is awesome. I will need to read the entire thread. Originally I was dead set on a k40 co2 laser but the chinese ones have a few safety concerns that I am still researching. I have an ender 3 and its a great little machine for the price. My next small purchase will likely be a low power laser.  

 

I am mainly interested in engraving

How well can these diode lasers engrave? Can it do gradients? Does it do it truly or with dithering?  Do you have recommendations for which one to get, they seem to range up to 10watts and cost a few hundred dollars. 

 

I plan to cut by hand so for now I think the diode lasers should fit my needs.

Edited by JC2019

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Thanks Brian for starting a very interesting post, I have had to come back to it a year or so later to understand a bit more about Diode lasers

I have just ordered a 3.5 watt mini engraver at a silly low price of £80 to play with and see what it's all about, unfortunately the software i understand is very basic and the engraver will not accept GRBL coding which seems a bummer as lightburn seems a good bargan at £40 but sure i will update to a larger engraver once i have learnt the skills

Tried to search information on the differences between CO2 and diode on the net but seems everyone talks like a professor of lasers rather than laymans terms and the facebook pages are more industrial or how to, rather than review type information

So hopefully in a few weeks my Insma will arrive and open up more thoughts

Thanks Brian

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On 5/24/2019 at 9:57 AM, JC2019 said:

How well can these diode lasers engrave? Can it do gradients? Does it do it truly or with dithering?  Do you have recommendations for which one to get, they seem to range up to 10watts and cost a few hundred dollars.  

Sorry for such a very late reply on this I only saw it by accident the other day. I use mostly what started off as an Elksmaker A3 laser which came with a 2.5 watt diode. After getting into it a bit I decided to run with a program called T2 Laser which was written for the Elksmaker machine by a very smart fellow called Zax I believe. Within the forum that he runs for this T2 laser he has mentioned the 2.5 watt as being the most ideal for laser engraving as it has the smallest focal point and can thus do the finest engraving. With the T2 laser you can opt for black and white or grey scale or dithered, photo and velocity mode etc etc so yes it does gradients truly as well as dithered. Recomendation wise I would go with an Elksmaker A3 and progress on bigger if you want. I say that as it takes the GRBL (open source) and it is fairly easy to make a lot larger if you want.

I don't do much engraving really but I do, do a lot of cardboard pattern cutting and box making and stuff with it. One of the best things about the T2 laser is that it allows me to put in DXF cad files which can have different coloured lines and depending on the colour of the line it will cut them at a lesser percentage than the other cut lines. For box making that means I can cut the fold lines in at say 20% depth (green) and the rest all the way through. On some jobs like this prototype phone pouch I am currently working on  I can have a mark line put on at the same time as cutting to help in later on lining up foam or other stiffeners and such. All of the patterns for this pouch are cut out on the laser because that allows me to go back and alter the drawings most easily. A couple of pictures should help to explain this better I think -

The first pic is just to show relevance -

9b.JPG

This one shows why having something able to cut poster size and can cut many different pieces or multiples is a major advantage. Note the little yellow things a pieces I 3d printed to hold 9mm magnets and make them easy to remove. The base under is all metal.

DSC05846_resize.JPG

Here you can see on the cardboard the mark lines for the pieces beside them to attach in the correct place.

g.JPG

As below

h.JPG

Now showing them glued and ready to put togetherDSC05853_resize.JPG

A little bit of 3d printing for extra strength -

d.JPG

Hopefully getting clearer now

DSC05856_resize.JPG

DSC05862_resize.JPG

All stitched up on my Cowboy 4500 with 138 (20m) thread.

1.JPG

Now I can go back and fine tune the design a little more.:P

 

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On 7/2/2020 at 1:01 AM, chrisash said:

Thanks Brian for starting a very interesting post, I have had to come back to it a year or so later to understand a bit more about Diode lasers

I have just ordered a 3.5 watt mini engraver at a silly low price of £80 to play with and see what it's all about, unfortunately the software i understand is very basic and the engraver will not accept GRBL coding which seems a bummer as lightburn seems a good bargan at £40 but sure i will update to a larger engraver once i have learnt the skills

Tried to search information on the differences between CO2 and diode on the net but seems everyone talks like a professor of lasers rather than laymans terms and the facebook pages are more industrial or how to, rather than review type information

So hopefully in a few weeks my Insma will arrive and open up more thoughts

Thanks Brian

3.5 Watts will be good when you get the hang of using it. You will find that you can use it for cutting fairly well as well. Do think about how to vent your fumes as aside from your health it can help in keeping things to run cooler  keep smke out of the laser cutting path and give you longer cutting times. With the larger fan I incorporated on mine I often get away with 1 hour plus cutting jobs. One little thing to keep in mind is that you can do multiple passes on a cutting job which means that you can have it run for say 10 minutes doing 1/2 of the cut and let it sit there for 5 minutes to cool down and set it off again to finish the cut. With the T2 laser program I use I can set it off doing a multiple pass job with a inbuilt pause of however many seconds I want it to cool down between passes. They call it the "cool down time" when you instruct it as to how many passes you want it to do. Smart Hey. You may not be able to run that with out the GRBL coding but you can just start it off again from where it stops again anyway. They are amazing how accurately they follow the path, in the phone pouch cutting I put in cut lines for the magnets at a spacing of.25 mm apart for the thickness of the metal prongs and they came out perfect.

Have fun and let us know how it goes for you.

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8 hours ago, RockyAussie said:

3.5 Watts will be good when you get the hang of using it. You will find that you can use it for cutting fairly well as well. Do think about how to vent your fumes as aside from your health it can help in keeping things to run cooler  keep smke out of the laser cutting path and give you longer cutting times. With the larger fan I incorporated on mine I often get away with 1 hour plus cutting jobs. One little thing to keep in mind is that you can do multiple passes on a cutting job which means that you can have it run for say 10 minutes doing 1/2 of the cut and let it sit there for 5 minutes to cool down and set it off again to finish the cut. With the T2 laser program I use I can set it off doing a multiple pass job with a inbuilt pause of however many seconds I want it to cool down between passes. They call it the "cool down time" when you instruct it as to how many passes you want it to do. Smart Hey. You may not be able to run that with out the GRBL coding but you can just start it off again from where it stops again anyway. They are amazing how accurately they follow the path, in the phone pouch cutting I put in cut lines for the magnets at a spacing of.25 mm apart for the thickness of the metal prongs and they came out perfect.

Have fun and let us know how it goes for you.

Great thanks for letting me know. I ended up getting a bofa filter and a fsl muse co2 laser too. I havent build an enclosure for my diode laser or cnc but hope to do that soon.  noise is a concern for me but these seem reasonable so far. 

 

Havent been using the laser at all except for some small tests but its really cool.

I have 2 3d printers that I also havent really used much but did make a test stamp which was kinda fun.  I am not sure if the resin printer I have will be of much use for leather work but its incredible technology.

I want to upgrade to a non toy cnc machine but that one will be one of the last few toys I get. I am pretty happy with everything I have. I really have too much already. 

 

I think I might try using acrylic to see how patterns might turn up on the laser.

I do also have a little tiny vinyl cutter toy machine that might do paper/cardboard but not sure how well.

Right now everything is still done for fun and curiosity for me but I have been thinking about the business side more and more and how to scale and automate. 

 

 

Edited by JC2019

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9 hours ago, RockyAussie said:

Sorry for such a very late reply on this I only saw it by accident the other day. I use mostly what started off as an Elksmaker A3 laser which came with a 2.5 watt diode. After getting into it a bit I decided to run with a program called T2 Laser which was written for the Elksmaker machine by a very smart fellow called Zax I believe. Within the forum that he runs for this T2 laser he has mentioned the 2.5 watt as being the most ideal for laser engraving as it has the smallest focal point and can thus do the finest engraving. With the T2 laser you can opt for black and white or grey scale or dithered, photo and velocity mode etc etc so yes it does gradients truly as well as dithered. Recomendation wise I would go with an Elksmaker A3 and progress on bigger if you want. I say that as it takes the GRBL (open source) and it is fairly easy to make a lot larger if you want.

I don't do much engraving really but I do, do a lot of cardboard pattern cutting and box making and stuff with it. One of the best things about the T2 laser is that it allows me to put in DXF cad files which can have different coloured lines and depending on the colour of the line it will cut them at a lesser percentage than the other cut lines. For box making that means I can cut the fold lines in at say 20% depth (green) and the rest all the way through. On some jobs like this prototype phone pouch I am currently working on  I can have a mark line put on at the same time as cutting to help in later on lining up foam or other stiffeners and such. All of the patterns for this pouch are cut out on the laser because that allows me to go back and alter the drawings most easily. A couple of pictures should help to explain this better I think -

The first pic is just to show relevance -

9b.JPG

This one shows why having something able to cut poster size and can cut many different pieces or multiples is a major advantage. Note the little yellow things a pieces I 3d printed to hold 9mm magnets and make them easy to remove. The base under is all metal.

DSC05846_resize.JPG

Here you can see on the cardboard the mark lines for the pieces beside them to attach in the correct place.

g.JPG

As below

h.JPG

Now showing them glued and ready to put togetherDSC05853_resize.JPG

A little bit of 3d printing for extra strength -

d.JPG

Hopefully getting clearer now

DSC05856_resize.JPG

DSC05862_resize.JPG

All stitched up on my Cowboy 4500 with 138 (20m) thread.

1.JPG

Now I can go back and fine tune the design a little more.:P

 

Follow up questions:

 

how are you doing your alignment for the placement of your magnets, do you have a webcam addon?

 

Also, can you tell me more about the 3d printing reinforcing and how does that work, help?

 

Thanks

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4 hours ago, JC2019 said:

how are you doing your alignment for the placement of your magnets, do you have a webcam addon?

I would dearly like to get the time to make a vacuum table under so that the magnets were not needed at all but that takes time and money. The quickest way of getting the magnets around is to start off with magnets just around the outer edges. Sometimes I do a outer perimeter run with the safe light on just to see where the thing is going to cut first. After that I make a habit of doing a double or more cut which means I increase the speed by 2 times. Once the first run is done and not cut right through you can see where the magnets will be best put before the following runs are done. I will post the magnet holder stl files in a post I intend to do soon in this forum with the intention of starting a repository section for stl files to be found and shared by anyone on this forum. Re the webcam ....I do have a camera in there but found that I never use it.

4 hours ago, JC2019 said:

Also, can you tell me more about the 3d printing reinforcing and how does that work, help?

In the phone case above I wanted a sturdy case that allows the phone to be easy to get in and out. Nearly all examples I found enveloped the phone to closely and I don't think its right that you should have to use 2 hands to answer your phone. The 3d insert in this case costs 81 cents including power usage and takes very little time to set up. It takes 1 hour to print on the little printer but I am able to keep working whilst that is happening. The big one should be able to do maybe 8 at a time I think. There are many many different applications for the 3d printing in leather work and one of the main ones would be the mould shapes. Although I have the printed insert in the phone case, there is also a master shape that allows me to form everything over and bash into shape and get length measurements around etc. Further to this if sales warrant it I will print up negative shapes to expedite the forming and folding processes.(similar to wet moulding a bit) Here is a picture of the master mould being printed - 

a.JPG

You can see this in place in the pics above where I am getting to attach the outer cover on. This mould is the size I want for many phones and by building from the inside and working my way out I can check the required measurements as I go. Leather does not always play by cad rules and measurements.

c.JPG

If you have a look in my how I make wedding ring boxes you can also see how I am able to print out shapes to reduce the need for skiving the leather and make forming tools as well.

DSC00581_resize.JPG

Hope that helps some

Brian

 

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On 1/11/2019 at 2:35 PM, garyo1954 said:


LatigoAmigo, thank you for pointing this out. Its total nonsense on my part to say one can cut through 4mm material at 250mm/sec. It's a misthought that should have never left my fingers nor my brain without some editing on my part.

I engrave leather at 250mm/sec and cut with a straight knife. To laser cut through leather the speed would never exceed 20mm/sec. Most likely it would be closer to 12-15mm/sec since those are personal default values. 

Here's a sideview of the Karen bracelet from the last post. Its 3.47 mils and you can see some of the char line where it was lasered.

347mils.thumb.jpg.28b9fa63c5d40e6b1c5440fc50d3dc74.jpg

 

My apologies for the misstatement. I'd like to say it won't happen again, but likely it will.  Thank you for bringing that to my attention LatigoAmigo.

(I had a much longer post but a crashed tab lost it. I will rewrite and repost about laser speed and power and factors affect laser performance in a bit)

 

On 1/11/2019 at 12:14 AM, LatigoAmigo said:

I'm floored. I use a 100-watt CO2 laser, on 5-6 oz. leather (which is 2 mm), and must make multiple passes at 75% and 20 mm per second. So my cutting (I don't cut veg tan) takes me much more time. Do you have any tips for me that might help speed up my production? 

Slow, or not, I am very happy with the results of this machine.

Spirit Bag #1 Collage.jpg

I can cut 10 oz leather in one pass with my 80 watt laser ! Something is not right with your laser.

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1 hour ago, olddogTim said:

I can cut 10 oz leather in one pass with my 80 watt laser ! Something is not right with your laser.

I must admit that mine could be out of adjustment, one of my big challenges. It's a home-made laser, and has a few "issues."  Is yours a CO2 or a diode laser... big difference. I've considered upgrading, but I got my machine at bargain basement pricing.

And what type of leather are you cutting? I know I'm not supposed to, but I cut mostly chrome-tanned leather (I do use a fume extractor), some of which is considered "stuffed." It weeps oil and is a real challenge to laser-cut.

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Brian and anyone interested,

I decided to buy a "cheapie" also. Mine is a 3000MW Diode laser from Universal Engravers.

I am not building a box for mine as yet, thinking wooden since that is readily available in our wood shop. Is your black plastic enclosure rated or just looks nice?

My present defigilty is the blasted cables. I presently have a piece of Piano wire, 1/8" diameter fastened to wall above the unit and hanging over same

with twine tied onto wire, holding the cables up. The piano wire will "droop" when necessary to give slack in the cables. I am concerned with the cables tiny wire breaking right at the plugs.

My cut area is supposed to be 600mm X 500mm (30" x 40").

That is difficult to obtain without the trollies bumping out of bounds. I am going to make the area 500mm x 400mm since I don't need the extra space at this time.

Also have a camera ordered. I am going to burn a grid on the spoil board for now. When I get the camera I shouldn't need the grid as much.

Ordered two pair of rated glasses/goggles to augment the pair that came with the unit. Don't allow anyone into the shop area without wearing same.

We have sold product to Catalog companies all over the world for over forty years. Recently closed that business to retire for about the third or fourth time.

Will see what develops out of this laser, not interested in building from scratch. May upgrade to a 15000MW Diode.

Ferg

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