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Oct 17, 2019, 01:03 PM
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Laser cutter power and speed settings


Hello
Looking for the wisdom of the crowd
I have access to 40W laser cutter
I did some testing but cutting is not smooth and a lot of material going to the waste so I'm looking for
Power and speed settings/chart for balsa and ply wood
so any wisdom of the crowd???

Thanks
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Oct 17, 2019, 09:29 PM
I fly, therefore, I crash!!!
SteveT.'s Avatar
There really seems to be just too many variables...

Ambient temperature causes variations..
Density of wood causes variations
Thickness of wood
Type of adhesive if plywood
How many layers if plywood

At least for/to me, it just seems to be trial and error. Sorry I couldn't have been more help.

One thing I was told was to set for a high power setting, and adjust speed as needed to get a good cut. One thing to be careful of if the laser does not have a milliamp meter, don't go more than about 2/3 of the power. If it does have one don't go above about 15 milliamps for most 40 watt lasers (this of course assuming it is one of the heap Chinese lasers).

SteveT.
Last edited by SteveT.; Oct 17, 2019 at 11:23 PM.
Oct 19, 2019, 09:23 PM
Registered User
There are material cutting charts out on the web, just google laser power settings. These will generally get you close. From there, start building your own spreadsheet of the materials you use and what power and speed worked. As mentioned, things will vary slightly, mostly because of material density changes ( wood ), My spreadsheet is categorized by my judgement of density, light, medium, hard balsa for example, and by thickness. I do the same with ply., acrylic,...

Before starting a job I always do a test cut. Usually just manually set the power and speed and do a manual "trimming" of the piece I'm going to use.

Take time to learn your machine and where it works best speed and power wise. I have read some rules of thumb that say, double the speed, double the power, I find that it works fairly well.

Joel
Oct 21, 2019, 10:58 AM
Team of ONE....or...Team Me
DeadTom's Avatar
When you say not smooth cuts, do you mean the cuts are jagged looking like a pixelated picture?
If it is looking like a jagged picture, what software are you using and what type of file are you with that software?
I noticed that when I used raster files versus vector files the cuts did appear jagged and pixelated.
So, start with good clean files and know your software and your machine's abilities.
Having said that, I did use the Googled chart of material and cutting speeds/laser power settings to get a feel of what I should try.
And the chart I used was close to what I have been using on acrylic, oak and poplar.
Haven't tried any plywoods yet.
I do know for certain that you do NOT want to go full power ever, always keep the cooling waters cool and ventilation is key for better cuts as it keeps the smoke from in front of the mirrors.
good luck and have fun
Oct 22, 2019, 08:20 AM
Registered User
Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadTom
When you say not smooth cuts, do you mean the cuts are jagged looking like a pixelated picture?
If it is looking like a jagged picture, what software are you using and what type of file are you with that software?
I noticed that when I used raster files versus vector files the cuts did appear jagged and pixelated.
So, start with good clean files and know your software and your machine's abilities.
Having said that, I did use the Googled chart of material and cutting speeds/laser power settings to get a feel of what I should try.
And the chart I used was close to what I have been using on acrylic, oak and poplar.
Haven't tried any plywoods yet.
I do know for certain that you do NOT want to go full power ever, always keep the cooling waters cool and ventilation is key for better cuts as it keeps the smoke from in front of the mirrors.
good luck and have fun
Hi
I'm using dxf as a source and RDworks V8 as software.
I'm using 40w cutter not the ebay low cost.
files are in good quality.

Balsa wood some time get over burn and some time not penetrating all dept , so a lot of material is going to the trash
Oct 22, 2019, 10:34 AM
Team of ONE....or...Team Me
DeadTom's Avatar
Are your dxf files curves actual curves and not a series of small tangent sections?
As far as the balsa getting burned and other times not cutting through, there are many variables to account for: are the machine's mirrors properly aligned, is smoke sometimes blocking the laser? Is the material all the same density? Is the power output always the same and is the speed too slow or too fast?
Slow speeds are most likely to burn material, whereas faster speeds will not cut as well.
With thick material you should make the cuts slower and with less power and to make it in two or three passes. And yes the edges might be darkened on the thicker materials.
Nov 03, 2019, 08:04 PM
Neophyte hacker
portablevcb's Avatar
Welcome to the problems of cutting balsa.

As stated before, power and speed is a trial and error thing. Each laser, even lasers of same power, will cut a bit differently due to differences in optics and how the power and speed of the laser is measured. Also, as the optics get dirty the power will need to be increased.

The biggest problem with balsa is the density of the wood. In one sheet it can go from very hard to very soft. What that means is that one section will be 'burned' and the other won't go all the way through. Even if a sheet is consistent, each sheet will be a bit different in density.

At one time I would weigh each sheet and sort them. I had settings for each different weight of balsa (yes, many, many setups).

When I needed to test a new material I had a file setup that I would run. Circle, box and diagonals run at different powers/speeds. I could then pick the best power/speed for that weight/thickness of balsa and I only wasted one sheet for the run.

It was not perfect and there were times I would have to go back and do some hand cutting when a sheet had a narrow width of harder wood.

When running the business we had about 15% waste in balsa (sometimes 20%), especially the 1/16 and 1/32 balsa.

One 'solution' to the backside burning is to use a piece of plexiglass under the balsa. The plexiglass does not reflect the laser so it does not flash burn the back sides like the grids do. Or, you can use stand offs to support the wood if it is flat and stiff enough.

charlie
Nov 03, 2019, 09:00 PM
I fly, therefore, I crash!!!
SteveT.'s Avatar
You would go through quite a bit of plexiglass wouldn't you Charlie?

SteveT.
Latest blog entry: My shop....
Nov 04, 2019, 07:42 AM
Neophyte hacker
portablevcb's Avatar
Only if making multiple cuts of same file.

I never used this method as it was not compatible with production work. We simply shipped stuff that had the flash marks on the underside of the wood. We did minimize it as much as possible by not using too much power, but, it was still there a lot of the time.

charlie
Nov 04, 2019, 05:21 PM
I fly, therefore, I crash!!!
SteveT.'s Avatar
The parts I ordered from you always looked good.

SteveT.
Latest blog entry: My shop....
Nov 05, 2019, 06:36 PM
Neophyte hacker
portablevcb's Avatar
Due in no small part to the large number of hours and countless ruined sheets of wood to get the settings we deemed optimal. Including the ability to determine if a sheet had hard or soft spots in it that had to be taken into account.

charlie
Nov 05, 2019, 08:46 PM
I fly, therefore, I crash!!!
SteveT.'s Avatar
I assumed so.

My first reply to 'drorzbe' was certainly in no way meaning to me facetious or mean hearted, just saying what I have found in my limited experience, and you have no basically repeated.

SteveT.
Latest blog entry: My shop....


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