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Feb 13, 2020, 06:41 PM
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Discussion

good laser engraver to transfer pdf patterns onto balsa?


I see a lot of reasonably cheap laser engravers on amazon but they have a small working area (150mm x 150mm ish) . It would be nice if there was a 300x300 bed or larger... Is there such a thing? 150mm is kind of limiting. I want to use it to simply transfer plane plan pdf patterns to balsa. (like the ribs etc.) I can use my scroll saw to do the cutting. Any thoughts or ideas?

Thanks
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Feb 13, 2020, 10:11 PM
I fly, therefore, I crash!!!
SteveT.'s Avatar
#1...a laser doesn't do that. You will need to convert the .pdf files to cad files like .dxf (Autocad). You would need to import the .pdf files into Autocad and trace them, then save them as the .dxf files which can then be imported into the laser software (in my case RDWorks).

#2... well...actually, it can, if you buy a Glowforge laser, as it can take even a rough drawing and cut it, but... they are expensive!!

#3...The laser I use is this one..

SteveT.
Last edited by SteveT.; Feb 13, 2020 at 10:17 PM.
Feb 13, 2020, 10:27 PM
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Thread OP
Never mind.. after some research, I found that there are indeed some large work area laser engravers at a reasonable cost but they appear to be horribly unsafe.
This you tube video sums it up pretty well.
Product Overview - EleksMaker A3 Laser Engraver (25 min 13 sec)
Feb 13, 2020, 10:35 PM
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Thread OP
Thanks Steve.. Yes, I saw that both Glowforge and Dremel take the pdfs but they are super pricey.. What I have been doing is transferring toner images using acetone and then cutting out with my scroll. I am pretty new at this so I thought a laser engraver would be a good idea.. Anyhow, I am very glad you gave me some advice. Much appreciated.
Feb 15, 2020, 01:10 PM
Registered User
Another thought if you buy or build your own laser, use/get a controller that supports LightBurn software. It will also support PDFs

https://lightburnsoftware.com
Feb 25, 2020, 01:30 PM
Figure Nine Champ
madsci_guy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by aa7jc
Never mind.. after some research, I found that there are indeed some large work area laser engravers at a reasonable cost but they appear to be horribly unsafe.
This you tube video sums it up pretty well.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kz0L-EpYiMk
1. Those safety goggles only protect against stray reflections, not direct exposure, and his pointing it at a wall is extremely unsafe.

2. I put mine in an enclosure. Your basic CO2 laser is in one for the same reason.

3. Don't ever, repeat ever, use a reflective barrier like he did with that aluminum sheet. You will get full power reflections that your safety goggles will not stop.

4. I think he's mistaken about it being the wavelength that doesn't allow cutting of metal. It's strictly power.Argon lasers cut metal very well at blue and green wavelengths, and ruby lasers will cut metal at red wavelengths.
Mar 06, 2020, 01:28 PM
3D Toy Designer
MicroRotors's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by aa7jc
I see a lot of reasonably cheap laser engravers on amazon but they have a small working area (150mm x 150mm ish) . It would be nice if there was a 300x300 bed or larger... Is there such a thing? 150mm is kind of limiting. I want to use it to simply transfer plane plan pdf patterns to balsa. (like the ribs etc.) I can use my scroll saw to do the cutting. Any thoughts or ideas?

Thanks
The K40's are 200x300 (8x12") and are on eBay and Amazon. Same machines but the eBay ones are a little cheaper in price. They can be modified to cut 12x24".

Regards
Bill
Latest blog entry: My New Toy!
Mar 06, 2020, 10:18 PM
If it flies, I can crash it.
rocketsled666's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by madsci_guy
I think he's mistaken about it being the wavelength that doesn't allow cutting of metal. It's strictly power.Argon lasers cut metal very well at blue and green wavelengths, and ruby lasers will cut metal at red wavelengths.
The wavelength can be important. Materials that reflect IR won't cut in my CO2 laser, for example. For most materials wavelength doesn't make a huge difference, I agree. But metals tend to be fairly reflective. Cutting them with a reasonable amount of power might require a laser tuned to the absorption frequency of the material because it will reflect too much of the laser power at another frequency.
Mar 07, 2020, 02:34 PM
Neophyte hacker
portablevcb's Avatar
It is just a matter of power with metals. The wavelength may mean you need more power vs another with a bit less, but, most metals are reflective to almost any laser. None are 100% reflective so that means it takes power. 1.06 is probably the best wavelength if you want to work with metal. It also depends on the metal and the surface finish to a certain extent.

But, most commercial production metal cutting lasers are CO2 (because they are cheaper at the power levels needed) and they cut up sheet metal easily. Power is up there. I have seen everything from a couple hundred watts to 10kW.

At hobby laser powers you will not be cutting metal. 1.06 YAG lasers will be able to etch some metals, but, those are probably out of your price range right now.

charlie
Mar 09, 2020, 01:40 AM
Registered User
The best wavelength for metal cutting is 10.6 micron, CO2 laser. At this wavelength most of the laser energy is absorbed by the metal and heats it up.
In visible (0.4 to 0.7 micron ) or near IR (1.06 micron), most of the power is reflected and therefore does not cut well and presents a safety hazard.


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