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First build, looking for a bit of advice

Posted by RogerA 
First build, looking for a bit of advice
January 27, 2017 11:08AM
Hello,

I'm planning to put together a laser cutter with an M140 laser on a homemade 200mm x 200mm gantry driven by RAMPS. I'm completely new to lasers; I've been 3D printing for a long time but always using pre-packaged printers as opposed to getting under the hood and setting up Marlin. My plan is to first build the gantry and just hook up a 5mW laser dot initially, to make sure that I've got a handle on driving the gantry and enabling/disabling the laser output. Once I'm feeling good about that I'll put on a regulated current driver powering the M140 and start cutting.

I have been looking around here a bit but I've not found any mention of what material my 'build plate' should be. My main objective with this setup will be to cut PCB stencils and engrave/cut small chunks of wood. My gantry is going to be 3D printed PLA and threaded rod. Is there an optimal material to use for the plate? Anything I should definitely avoid?

Anybody have any general advice on things to look out for here? Initially I had been planning to keep my cutter open-frame, and just be adamant about using it only when I'm alone in the garage with safety glasses. After reading on here for a while I've decided to enclose the frame...Still debating between closing it with wood and installing a webcam or using some shielding material that you can still view through. At first I'm not planning to install a fan/filter since I will use it in the garage, but that might come later. Any tips appreciated, happy cutting!
VDX
Re: First build, looking for a bit of advice
January 27, 2017 03:51PM
... I'm using a magnetic iron sheet, fixed with double-sided adhesive pads to the bed - so easy to fix/clamp flat material sheets with magnets.

A 5mW pilot laser is good not only for learning/testing, but too usefull for adjusting the origin or check for orthogonal alignment ...


Viktor
Re: First build, looking for a bit of advice
January 28, 2017 03:41PM
Why not temporaily remove extruder
and
mount laser

Get a laser head AND a laser driver
with a supply and TTL trigger

I have a Shapeoko 2 with router / laser
Arduino / GRBL shield / GRBL
1.75w blue laser that I can focus
and control power with PWM trigger off of pin 12

[www.youtube.com]

Shapeoko forum good resource
[www.shapeoko.com]

confused smiley
Re: First build, looking for a bit of advice
January 29, 2017 07:17AM
Thanks for the responses! I considered modifying my printer but I use it a lot and I don't want it to be out of commission while I'm learning the laser getup...plus, building this from scratch will be half the fun!

I'm not going to have a Z axis, so I'm planning to build the gantry with a few different mounting options for the laser so I can change its location based on material height. Any recommendations on a starting height?


Cozmicray, thanks for sharing that video. I'm curious about the Z axis there. Any reason to move it so much? We're you returning to different heights between passes?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/29/2017 09:02AM by RogerA.
Re: First build, looking for a bit of advice
January 30, 2017 06:47PM
In that iteration of my laser mount --- a micro switch was used to control laser
so I defined an ON Z height and OFF Z height
The Z axis moves to turn laser ON/OFF.

Makercam used to gen g-code -- so it was acting as a spindle

winking smiley



Quote
RogerA
Cozmicray, thanks for sharing that video. I'm curious about the Z axis there. Any reason to move it so much? We're you returning to different heights between passes?
Re: First build, looking for a bit of advice
June 20, 2017 05:57AM
would be interesting to see a photo...
also if you wish more powerful lasers like 5.6W or 8W , check Endurance lasers. They are very powerful for laser cutting and laser engraving!

George


We change the world by bringing affordable and open - source technologies
___________________
EnduranceRobots.com
EnduranceLasers.com
Re: First build, looking for a bit of advice
July 24, 2017 12:28PM
I tried building my own custom gantry but I had a few headaches with getting the thing to drive and ultimately it sat on the shelf for a few months, but then I learned about Banggood as a cheap source of hardware.

I picked up an M140 diode from DTR's laser shop and bought a Banggood chassis/motor assembly without the laser. My plan is to ditch the Chinese electronics and use that chassis with a RAMPS board. The Chassis is somewhere between China and TX right now. This seemed like the cheapest way to get going and see how I like this game before investing too much $$$. I'm hoping that the ~$300 that I've got into this will suffice to get me off the ground.

Will post pics when it comes together.
Re: First build, looking for a bit of advice
July 26, 2017 07:18AM
The Chinese cutter assembled pretty easily, I just need to tidy up a few things. I'm going to print some limit-switch mounts and add them, as it didn't come with any. This week is busy with work, interviews for better work and teaching an Arduino course at the library, but hoping that I can really dive into this on the weekend.
Re: First build, looking for a bit of advice
August 09, 2017 07:52AM
I ended up buying a chunk of laser-shielding acrylic from Jtech Photonics and built it into an enclosure...As a carpenter, I make a decent electronics guy winking smiley

I've got an exhaust fan in the back and a fan blowing cool air in over the stepper drivers of my RAMPS board. I just need to put some sealant around the lid and tack on the last piece of the frame for the acrylic and I think it'll be time to start playing!
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