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Oct 21, 2020, 11:36 PM
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Diode Laser Questions


I've been reading up on laser safety and watching videos, but i still have a few dumb questions. Any help would be appreciated and implemented if deemed necessary to save my eyesight.
20 watt blue diode laser running 5 watts output, at least thats what i have read. Its an Ortur budget machine from Amazon. However, its a world of fun and i really want to keep my eyes intact.

With my laser goggles on (OD6), can i look thru my cellphone and record the laser at its focal point.....where its cutting?

When i open the garage door a blue light can be seen flickering....much like an arc welder. Is it harmful to look at that blue light without my goggles?

I keep my dog out of the garage but if he does get in and sees the laser, will it blind him?

Has anybody looked at a laser while cutting and gone blind?

Can you watch the beam with your goggles on as long as you don't stare at the focal point?


I'm sure i will have some more ignorance in the future, but finding the answers to these question should help a bit. I'm being extreme in caution because i really don't know the nature of this beast. I have a sense that carelessness could lead to some severe consequences. I know power tools can bite ya too, but this laser thing seems about like having a particle acclerator in the garage.
Thanks for the help!
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Oct 22, 2020, 05:50 PM
Just a bored guy
boredom.is.me's Avatar
How about you just don't? The simple answer is often times the correct one. Playing with your eyesight just so you can see every millimeter of cutting seems like a flawed idea.

Looking through a camera will do no harm as the screen can't emit the same harmful light. However, you can damage the sensor if the laser is directed at it.
Oct 22, 2020, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by boredom.is.me
How about you just don't? The simple answer is often times the correct one. Playing with your eyesight just so you can see every millimeter of cutting seems like a flawed idea.

Looking through a camera will do no harm as the screen can't emit the same harmful light. However, you can damage the sensor if the laser is directed at it.
Thanks for the help. Now instead of watching the cut, i start the machine and let it run for a couple of minutes, then turn it off so i can check alignment and depth. This seems to be working better.
Oct 22, 2020, 07:05 PM
Just a bored guy
boredom.is.me's Avatar
You literally framed the question in a way asking if you can just stare at it. If you want to do a test cut, all you have to do is program a short line or small square that takes all of 5 seconds to cut. There are plenty of tutorials you can use to check alignment and test on youtube, but that's not what you asked.
Oct 22, 2020, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by boredom.is.me
You literally framed the question in a way asking if you can just stare at it. If you want to do a test cut, all you have to do is program a short line or small square that takes all of 5 seconds to cut. There are plenty of tutorials you can use to check alignment and test on youtube, but that's not what you asked.
Yes i did as i figured with my goggles on i could watch the beam as it cuts. Never did that for very long and i was curious as to the effectiveness of these colored goggles.
Thanks for the idea on reducing the cut down to a line drawing so i can check alignment. A grid under the cutter would help a lot too. Once a job is started, if i ever hit the Home button, it loses its start point of the cut. Maybe off by a 1/16" but now i know not to do that. Still learning Lightburn but the jobs are already looking better.
Oct 26, 2020, 08:58 PM
treefinder
springer's Avatar
The fundamental thing you want to avoid is the beam directly pointing into your eye, that is when it burns you just like it burns wood. The secondary to that is if it reflects off a shiny or reflective surface into your eye. The light is still coherent, still cuts. Looking at the scatter of light that surrounds the cut and is not coherent, but nevertheless as bright as the sun (so to speak ) is the least dangerous of these three. Staring at it is like staring at the sun and not as immediately destructive, but can still damage. The correct goggles filter much of the blue light, but even then I wouldn't stare, but glance and look away. The farther away from the scatter the less potential for damage, like looking at an arc welder from across a large room.
The safest thing to do is like mentioned above and use a short routine to run a test cut. I use the Z axis to focus my laser (2.5watt blue diode) and have a routine to run a series of 50mm length lines incrementing the Z by 2mm each line. I can see as the burn line width gets smaller I am at best focus and reset Z zero to that.
Oct 26, 2020, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by springer
The fundamental thing you want to avoid is the beam directly pointing into your eye, that is when it burns you just like it burns wood. The secondary to that is if it reflects off a shiny or reflective surface into your eye. The light is still coherent, still cuts. Looking at the scatter of light that surrounds the cut and is not coherent, but nevertheless as bright as the sun (so to speak ) is the least dangerous of these three. Staring at it is like staring at the sun and not as immediately destructive, but can still damage. The correct goggles filter much of the blue light, but even then I wouldn't stare, but glance and look away. The farther away from the scatter the less potential for damage, like looking at an arc welder from across a large room.
The safest thing to do is like mentioned above and use a short routine to run a test cut. I use the Z axis to focus my laser (2.5watt blue diode) and have a routine to run a series of 50mm length lines incrementing the Z by 2mm each line. I can see as the burn line width gets smaller I am at best focus and reset Z zero to that.
Thanks a bunch for that information Springer, helps a lot in clarifying some of my misconceptions concerning lasers.
Have taken out the fill and run line only so i can get a quick cut of how things look. It was lining things up that was difficult. I need some sort of grid and i have noticed that going home and back to the start position is not always the same, lol
Future plans include a full enclosure of the Ortur, then i won't have any worries about stray coherent light.
Oct 27, 2020, 07:15 PM
treefinder
springer's Avatar
The upshot is consider the laser as dangerous and always use your glasses (correct ones for laser wavelength) and don't spend any time "looking intently at it".

I use universal g-code sender on my machine, and sometimes mentally swap machine zero and program zero. (Machine zero is wherever the head was at on power on.while program zero can be reset in UGS). Like most every thing else, discipline is required! But it is still fun!
Oct 27, 2020, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by springer
The upshot is consider the laser as dangerous and always use your glasses (correct ones for laser wavelength) and don't spend any time "looking intently at it".

I use universal g-code sender on my machine, and sometimes mentally swap machine zero and program zero. (Machine zero is wherever the head was at on power on.while program zero can be reset in UGS). Like most every thing else, discipline is required! But it is still fun!
Thanks for your information. The goggles stay on as long as the job runs, regardless where i'm at, that way i don't accidentially walk in on it without them.
They are OD 6 for 400 something wave length. They seem to work pretty well. The ones that came with it are yellow in color and have no OD certification, so i don't use them.

And thanks for that info on machine zero and program zero. Thats why my starting point was always off when i restarted a job.
I came across universal gcode sender last night while looking for cnc machine control software. I use Lightburn on this unit which has that software built in, i suppose. Anyways, will be using the sender program when i get the cnc and v-carve set up. Now thats gonna be some more fun, but i agree that the laser has been a blast. I've already begun to crank out Christmas presents with which are acceptable.
Oct 28, 2020, 10:19 AM
treefinder
springer's Avatar
Christmas presents ha! You may want to look up the several Christmas truetype winding style fonts ( do a search on "free truetype fonts" ) I found that I can "type" the letter in sketchup and get a 3d image that I then use the wafer plugin to create gcode then use UGS to engrave on wood disks for ornaments. The wife now wants larger diameter limb disks for Christmas themed coasters. Gonna be a challenge to fully waterproof oak endgrain!

Here is the thread on wafer: https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...o-Gcode-plugin

This thread in builders workshop forum has some laser setup and running learnings : https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...d-cutting-foam The laser stuff is in later pages when the guys started enhancing their machines beyond the needle cutter for foam.

This thread on flitetest forums has info on lasers mixed in a needle cutter thread: https://forum.flitetest.com/index.ph...24251/page-160
Oct 28, 2020, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by springer
Christmas presents ha! You may want to look up the several Christmas truetype winding style fonts ( do a search on "free truetype fonts" ) I found that I can "type" the letter in sketchup and get a 3d image that I then use the wafer plugin to create gcode then use UGS to engrave on wood disks for ornaments. The wife now wants larger diameter limb disks for Christmas themed coasters. Gonna be a challenge to fully waterproof oak endgrain!

Here is the thread on wafer: https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...o-Gcode-plugin

This thread in builders workshop forum has some laser setup and running learnings : https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...d-cutting-foam The laser stuff is in later pages when the guys started enhancing their machines beyond the needle cutter for foam.

This thread on flitetest forums has info on lasers mixed in a needle cutter thread: https://forum.flitetest.com/index.ph...24251/page-160
Oh thats really cool and thanks for the links. The ornaments look really good, really clean. I've installed some true type fonts so anxious to try that out.
Last nite i downloaded Da Big Gimp for processing photos that can be burned into wood or tile. Got some photos ready but will have to wait till the garage warms up, hopefully this weekend.
LightBurn has actually been working pretty good for simple creation so that may be enuf for me at this point. I don't know Sketchup and plan to be putting time into VCarve Pro. Won't that be cool, carve 3d object out of wood and then laser engrave your initials on it. They now have lasers you can attach to CNC routers so this can all be done on one machine. Now if a guy knew Fusion 360, he could get away with this one package to do it all. Learning F360 would be like me trying to understand the theory of relativity, lol

One more thing i saw on youtube, laser engraving of pen blanks made from wood. Looked really good and the dude was using a 3 or 5 watt laser i think.
A simply jig to hold the pen and fire away. Will check amazon for some pen blanks.
Oct 28, 2020, 04:13 PM
treefinder
springer's Avatar
You haven't tried sketchup and I haven't tried lightburn! I would encourage you to check out sketchup V7 or V8. A google search should find some copies still available , there might even be a link in the SU thread I linked. It depends on how you think and what you want to do. Model planes are essentially hollow tubes (fuse and wing) or just surfaces (tail empennage or profile design) so a cad program of lines and surfaces works. If you are thinking 3d carving, then solids CAM may be better to start with. Although, I use sketchup to design the parts I 3d print and it works fine, since the printer reads the skin and fills it using it's own algorithms. The radial engine below was done in sketchup and printed on my Anet A8.

On the lightburn program, there are some interesting examples and discussion of its use in the flitetest thread. One cool one I want to try is etching ceramic tiles! He used a 2.5 watt laser like mine to do it. The method is to paint the tile with White acrylic house paint if I recall correctly, then use lightburn to burn the design in. Apparently it burns the paint layer and "stains" the tile. It is apparent permanent. Cool!
Last edited by springer; Oct 28, 2020 at 04:21 PM.
Oct 28, 2020, 09:20 PM
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Here is the one i watched on tile and there are a few more.
Crazy Technique for Etching White Ceramic Tile PERMANENTLY! (20 min 7 sec)


Should be permanant enuf even especially if acetone will not remove the image. Other users were having troubles and one video i watched said to use rustoleum white. Would just have to play around with different paints, speeds, power settings, etc.

I have done a few things in Tinkercad, so i may look into Sketchup. I've always read good things about, just never played around with it. Maybe after i get VCarve down, i will have some time for more design type software.

And Lightburn did set me back 40 bucks, but its been well worth it. Within a week i had production pieces out the door.
Last edited by steelfaith1; Oct 28, 2020 at 09:32 PM.
Oct 28, 2020, 10:30 PM
If it flies, I can crash it.
rocketsled666's Avatar
Engraving ceramic tile is easy. The glaze on the tile burns off. You can color the exposed clay with permanent markers or paint. Anything that spills on to a still-glazed surface cleans off easily. After you have it looking the way you want, shoot it with a few coats of clear acrylic and you're good to go.

This was the first one I did. For my wife, obviously. I drink tea, but I don't knit...

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Oct 29, 2020, 01:26 AM
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Originally Posted by rocketsled666
Engraving ceramic tile is easy. The glaze on the tile burns off. You can color the exposed clay with permanent markers or paint. Anything that spills on to a still-glazed surface cleans off easily. After you have it looking the way you want, shoot it with a few coats of clear acrylic and you're good to go.

This was the first one I did. For my wife, obviously. I drink tea, but I don't knit...

Attachment 14228795
Seems a better technique and much easier than runnin thru the paint process. Will have to try that. Your tea time tile came out really good. I like the lettering.


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