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CNC router or laser?

Old 12-24-2021, 12:17 AM
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Smokeyr67
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Default CNC router or laser?

Hi folks,

Iíve been given the go ahead by Mrs Claus to spend a few bucks on a CNC machine, and I was hoping to get your opinion as to whether a laser or router would be better for my needs.

In the price range I can get a 600x 900 80 watt laser cutter, or a 600 x 1200 router, so either will be big enough, but Iím a bit confused about which machine would be better for cutting parts from balsa and ply?

Iíd really love your advice, I can see advantages to both, so Iím in a bit of a quandarie about which direction to go.

Thanks in advance for your help,

Smokey
Old 12-24-2021, 06:00 AM
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rgburrill
 
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My CNC3018 has a laser as well. You will limit what you can do with just a laser.
Old 12-24-2021, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Smokeyr67 View Post
Hi folks,

Iíve been given the go ahead by Mrs Claus to spend a few bucks on a CNC machine, and I was hoping to get your opinion as to whether a laser or router would be better for my needs.

In the price range I can get a 600x 900 80 watt laser cutter, or a 600 x 1200 router, so either will be big enough, but Iím a bit confused about which machine would be better for cutting parts from balsa and ply?

Iíd really love your advice, I can see advantages to both, so Iím in a bit of a quandarie about which direction to go.

Thanks in advance for your help,

Smokey
You do not indicate your needs?? But here is my 2 cents! A laser is more useful to a model builder as it cut parts out that can be placed closer together on the blanks. You don't have the dog bones on all the notches and slot. A 80 watt laser will cut quickly , but you need a way to blow away the smoke so it doesn't deposit on the parts. It will take less time at the same travel speed to cut a part as it doesn't have to do the dog bones!
Old 12-28-2021, 06:55 AM
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Smokeyr67
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Originally Posted by rgburrill View Post
My CNC3018 has a laser as well. You will limit what you can do with just a laser.
Thanks, I never even considered that to be an option, but it is for the router Iím looking out so that sounds perfect!

Originally Posted by ByLoudDesign View Post
You do not indicate your needs?? But here is my 2 cents! A laser is more useful to a model builder as it cut parts out that can be placed closer together on the blanks. You don't have the dog bones on all the notches and slot. A 80 watt laser will cut quickly , but you need a way to blow away the smoke so it doesn't deposit on the parts. It will take less time at the same travel speed to cut a part as it doesn't have to do the dog bones!
Sorry, I should have reined in my excitement and gotten into some of the nitty gritty

Iím mainly looking at cutting parts from both balsa and ply initially (nothing overly thick, maybe 3mm balsa and up to about 6 mm ply), but I can see a lot of other uses for both as I do my research.
The router table Iím looking at has the option of a 4.2 W laser Axiom laser option which sounded great until I read your bit about 80W lasers! I was bit confused because on the page I linked to they state that itís the ďstrongest available laser accessory on the marketĒ, but I failed to see ďaccessoryĒ part, so Iím back on track now.

Iím a bit worried about cutting thin balsa on a router, I envisage a lot of tear out, but I honestly have no idea if that would be true, itís just my uninformed assumption. I was thinking that a laser would be better for thin material, but is 4.2 W powerful enough?

Anyhow, thank you both for your replies, it looks like I have a lot more research to do.

Thx
Smokey
Old 01-04-2022, 04:39 PM
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invertmast
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As someone who has both, the laser is your better option for average thickness balsa and ply.

a 4.2w laser is good for engraving, but youíll never cut anything of substantial thickness with it. The ole ďjack of all, master of noneĒ phrase comes to mind with cnc routers w/ laser attachments. They both work, but how well.

an 80watt laser will cut pretty much anything up to 1/4Ē ply and 3/8Ē balsa with a single pass (with the correct focal length, lense and mirror alignment).
Old 01-07-2022, 09:49 AM
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Smokeyr67
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Thanks for getting back to me Thomas, your input has been great!

I’ve decided to buy a good CNC router initially, I can see a lot more use for it in my other hobby (wood working) than I do a laser. I might buy the optional laser head just to burn in part numbers on the ply parts I route, and maybe write pithy sayings on bar signs and the like

I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos regarding laser cutters, some confuse me but in combination with your advice I think that I’ll be looking for a CO2 laser in the 100 watt range. Cooling and ventilation are something I need to consider, but I shouldn’t have an issue with ventilation, I’ll just pipe it similar to my current dust collection system. Software seems to be an issue, do you have any recommendations in that regard?

Thanks again,

Shane.
Old 02-18-2022, 06:03 AM
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mia45943
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Hi All. Knowing that I'm on a CNC Router forum, I'm figuring I know which way most people will lean...but I thought I'd at least give my question a try.

As the title suggests, I'm a noob to the whole thing. What I'm looking to do is cut out parts with some minor etching done to some of them. I'd say more than 60% would be out of 1/8th" craft plywood, with the possibility of expanding out as my skillset grows.

This is a hobby that, if turns out decent, could become a side business, though my primary job is still in computers/tech so I'm not looking to instantly become a CNC business.

Right now, I'm selling some custom pieces online that I drew and have a local engraver laser cut for me. But I'd like to find ways to bring the costs down a little by having my own machine(s) and get my project wood delivered to me instead of paying his resale prices.

But I don't know much about it other than my wife and I draw some stuff, and he sends it to me finished. I'd like to learn more and be able to test drawings/designs without the cost of retail, and reduce my overall costs for projects.

I know very little about operation of either laser cutters or CNC routers. In looking at hobbyist/newbie pieces - it seems that the price comparison has them pretty close in overall cost.

If any of you have used both types and wouldn't mind pushing me in the right direction for research, it would be greatly appreciated.

What would be the most noob friendly? Can I realistically get a good home hobby model to play with for at/under ~$3k all in including software that would handle the boards (12x24") without having to cut the stock board size down to fit?

Thank you all for reading.

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