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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


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