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Laser Cutting

Old 12-21-2022, 12:34 PM
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gow589
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Default Laser Cutting

I would like to know what laser cutters people are using to cut balsa and light ply and how they like them.
Old 12-21-2022, 03:22 PM
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I just received my third project from National Balsa. Pleased with all of them. I showed these parts to a friend who was VP Engineering at a company that makes laser cutters. He thought the results were very good.
Chuck
Old 12-21-2022, 03:25 PM
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Thank you, I am wondering about the machines themselves.
Old 12-22-2022, 02:19 AM
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Laser cutting is a slitting process that can be used to cut metallic and non-metallic raw materials of varying thicknesses. it can cut through all materials and does not require tooling costs.
Old 12-22-2022, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Johnwatsonusa
Laser cutting is a slitting process that can be used to cut metallic and non-metallic raw materials of varying thicknesses. it can cut through all materials and does not require tooling costs.
I know what they are. I had a 2500 what laser in a business I just sold which would cut through 1/2" steel. I am just looking to see what lasers people are using for small things, light ply, model airplane stuff. They do have consumables such as mirrors, tubes and gas.

Old 12-22-2022, 07:12 AM
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I have cut wood with our industrial laser but not small stuff. Here is MDF board used to create a buck for forming aluminum:


Old 12-22-2022, 09:13 AM
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Nice metal work! Getting to your question, I have one of the Chinese (I guess most of the consumer grade lasers probably are from China) K40 CO2 lasers. The pros are that the cost is reasonable and there is a good online knowledge base. 40 watts is enough to cut balsa and light ply. The cons are that you have to modify the cutting area to take full advantage of the machine's abilities and the included accessories are generally sub par. You generally will want to upgrade the air assist and the exhaust system. Depending on how hard you use it you may also want to upgrade the cooling for the laser tube. Knocking out a set of wing ribs barely warms the water in my 5 gallon cooling reservoir. Granted, I don't use my laser every day. I just don't build that fast. In my case the consumables have been nil. I've had to clean the mirrors due to smoke from the cutting but I haven't worn anything out. There aren't any additional gasses, just air assist from a small pump. The stock tubes are not known for having a particularly accurate power rating but I find that for cutting most balsa I don't have to push it to anywhere near it's rated capacity. There is an aftermarket for higher quality laser tubes and mirrors. The biggest drawback I have run into is that the case/cutting area isn't big enough to do things like 1/4 scale wing ribs or fuselage sides in one piece. In my case I don't feel like I want to spend the considerably larger amount of money for a laser with a 48" cutting bed or build one of the larger lasers from scratch.
Old 12-22-2022, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Johnwatsonusa
Laser cutting is a slitting process that can be used to cut metallic and non-metallic raw materials of varying thicknesses. it can cut through all materials and does not require tooling costs.
This "Johnwatsonusa" clown is a complete phony. He should be immediately tossed off the site.
The following 2 users liked this post by allanflowers:
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Old 12-22-2022, 11:55 AM
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Thank You Matt. Do you have a photo of it?
Old 12-22-2022, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by gow589
Thank You Matt. Do you have a photo of it?
It's a little chilly for going out to the shop just now (11F) but if you do a search for K40 laser on Ebay they are pretty generic. Lasergods.com and similar sites have a lot of info. The wind chill does bring up another point. Since my laser sits in an unheated shop I do have to keep antifreeze in the laser tube in the winter and then flush it when with distilled water when I use it. These lasers come with a disk or thumb drive with software for running the laser. They make good coffee coasters. The included software works but K40 Whisperer freeware works much better.
Old 02-01-2023, 12:50 PM
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You will want a Chaser, AKA Chinese CO2 laser of 60-80 watts or more. You can find them at Tool Lots, or Ebay and they start around $2200 for a 60 watt. You also need a chiller, like a CW5200. The software to run it you can get from Lightburn, which is really good software for the price. A couple things to know ahead of time, you WILL be modifying it, and do not expect the stock tube to be true wattage. It's good enough to get you started, but keep in mind you will want to upgrade the tube and power supply. For the most part all the hardware is solid and well made. The mirrors and lens are CHEAP, so get good Si mirrors and ZnSe focus lens to get as much energy from the tube as you can.

Omtech seems to be the latest brand being sold, but its pretty much the same as what I bought in 2019. There are tons of videos out there on improving these lasers, and for what a US based company sells these for, you can build on to the same or better specs for less. For example, a Boss Laser is made in the same factory to their design specs, and uses the same components, but when it arrives in the states, they rewire it using higher quality wiring and use high quality tubes. They also tune and adjust it for peak performance, but if you are handy, you can do the same and save ~ $6,000 or more.
Old 02-01-2023, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by acdii
You will want a Chaser, AKA Chinese CO2 laser of 60-80 watts or more. You can find them at Tool Lots, or Ebay and they start around $2200 for a 60 watt. You also need a chiller, like a CW5200. The software to run it you can get from Lightburn, which is really good software for the price. A couple things to know ahead of time, you WILL be modifying it, and do not expect the stock tube to be true wattage. It's good enough to get you started, but keep in mind you will want to upgrade the tube and power supply. For the most part all the hardware is solid and well made. The mirrors and lens are CHEAP, so get good Si mirrors and ZnSe focus lens to get as much energy from the tube as you can.

Omtech seems to be the latest brand being sold, but its pretty much the same as what I bought in 2019. There are tons of videos out there on improving these lasers, and for what a US based company sells these for, you can build on to the same or better specs for less. For example, a Boss Laser is made in the same factory to their design specs, and uses the same components, but when it arrives in the states, they rewire it using higher quality wiring and use high quality tubes. They also tune and adjust it for peak performance, but if you are handy, you can do the same and save ~ $6,000 or more.
Great comment. I encourage you, if you have the skills and know how to handle high voltage, to build your own laser cutter/engraver. They are fantastic and I find multiple uses for them. There are frame kits and all the parts you would need on the web, ebay, cloudraylaser, buildyourowncnc, etc. I built my own 100W laser cutter for under 2500 dollars. It's fantastic and I love it. A good cooling system and air supply are musts as well as a good exhaust system. Took me about a year to complete it part time, but, well worth the time and price. Also, I've had excellent results with RECI laser tubes. They're a bit more expensive but I think worth the price.

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