Got a new toy to help my builds

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swhite228

Well-Known Member
I've wanted a laser cutter for a while now, and this seems like the time to get it.
To be delivered the 27th is this K40 cutter etcher. I've already got the new "old" power meter and parts on order, but would like suggestions on anyother mods the unit might need.
 

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TazMan2000

Master Member
I considered getting a cutter tòo, but I read about there limitations with styrene. They melt morenthanbthey cut. However it seems to work with acrylic quite well.

TazMan2000
 

xl97

Master Member
For laser.. (usually the lower tube/watt) you -can- dial in the speed and power to get real CUTS instead of 'melted' edges..

"I" personally havent cut any styrene on mine (I'd like to try though)..

As far as the Chinese imports go... several people at my local makerspace went this route.. other on the intranet have also went this route and documented things.


Assuming the hardware itself is all legit (correct working stop buttons..etc)..

The tool chain is what you need to figure out.

Meaning..

What software does it come with? (from my understanding is that their 'provided' software is always 'junk')..
Can it run other software instead? (depends on the controller board is my stance)..

What is the 'tool chain' needed to get an image into your software?

It will send the data to my cutter software (not GREAT, but pretty straight forward and works fine.. could have some more built in tools/options, but I do most of the image/prep work OUTSIDE of that program anyways.)




Once of the BEST things about my laser cutter is:

Is has a 'print driver'..
so ANY application I can print from.. can ALSO be sent to the computer.

Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Word, Notepad...etc.. whatever.

It will send the data to my cutter software (not GREAT, but pretty straight forward and works good enough.. could have some more built in tools/options, but I do most of the image/prep work OUTSIDE of that program anyways.)


For MY set-up..

Anything 'black/fill' comes over as BITMAP data..
Anything vector lines (0.01px thickness) comes over as VECTOR data

Each VECTOR (cmyk) color comes over as its own LAYER as well..

So red outline circle, blue outlined square..

I can set different cutting and speed values for each (cut one out, and engrave outline on other for example)

I can set my bitmap and vector settings to different power & speed setting..


I can tell you right now... the 12/x8 work envelope on your specific machine will be too small!! LOL

* they can never be big enough!! You always have other things you want to cut or engrave on.. hahah..


A nice feature of mine is you can remove the bottom/floor panel.

So I dont always HAVE to be able to fit the part/material into the cutter housing itself.. but I can SET it on top of stuff.. like a table.. or I have seen other put it on the hood of their cars..

and then engrave whatever.


Also.. almost ALL WATTAGE rating for the tubes are 'lies'.. LOL

I have a 40W tube/machine..

but it probably really more like a 30-35w tube.. in reality

This effects how much/thick you can cut stuff..

I can do 1/8 & 1/4 inch acrylic in one pass on mine (I like to do passes on 1/4 for a smoother edge)..

I can 1/8 baltic birch in one pass as well..

I dont believe I have tried any 1.4 wood yet.. I'm guess multiple passes..


Good luck!


You'll spend DAYS AND SAYS on google, searching for: Laser cutter projects! LOL.. to get an idea of all the things it can do!
 
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xl97

Master Member
That is correct.

Not only bad for YOUR health.... but your machine as well from what I have read.

So no vinyl record cutting either.. (which I see many people doing!)
 

swhite228

Well-Known Member
I knew going into this that the laser was going to be unusable out of the box.
The biggest issue is the China electrical power grid and the fact that they don't use grounds in the country. The laser comes with a ground connector on the back, however the hole it's in has a thick layer of powder coating around it meaning the ground connector doesn't ground the case.
Next in line is the lack of emergency shutoff, and the lack of safety cutoffs if a door is opened which leads to a quick rewire to make better use of the power jacks ground pin, and to add the kill switch, and safety switches....and a ground to the water supply in case the tube arcs into the cooling system, The name K40 Death Laser is true to the machine.

Cutting area was easy to almost double with the removal of the exhaust vent inside the laser. The vent sticks out over the bed about two inches, so removing it gives a lot more usable area. I'm happy to say the needed safety mods are done .

The last mod is the addition of an analog power meter to help set the power. The digital display on the laser shows the percent you select but not the power going to the tube. A lot of people report they are reading almost 30ma when the digital meter is dialed down to 75% power, suggested power seems to be about 25-28ma to get 40watts out of the tube.

The laser is ready to run at this point and has joined 2 3d printers , 2 vinyl cutters , and a shared 3d scanner in what I call the "Digital fabrication" part of my work area.

The software I'm using is Inkscape along with K40whisper for the laser.
 

Duncanator

Sr Member
Laser cutters are awesome!

We had two laser cutters at ILM, and we used the heck out of them on styrene, acrylic and wood. Acrylic cuts better than styrene because the melting point is higher, but if you dial in your settings, styrene cuts very well. It's a balance between feed rate and power. Air assist helps a lot too.

We were constantly trying new techniques and materials on those machines. We cut rubber (sooty), leather (stinky! like burning flesh), MDF, plywood, PVC, polycarbonate (awful), glass (didn't work), etc... just to see what it'd do. Our big cutter (48"x 48") was supposed to be able to do metals as well, but we never set it up with inert gas. I never found the limit on that thing. The thickest material I ever cut on there was 1.25" thick acrylic, and it did it with out any problem. It had an indexed platten so you could load an full 4'x 8' sheet of plywood and cut big pieces. That's how all the ship bulkheads were cut for Pirates of the Caribbean.

I have a 24"x 36" cutter in my personal shop that I am upgrading the drive motors on. Like Adam Savage has said before, "once you get a laser cutter, you start to see everything as a laser cut kit".
Enjoy you new toy!
 

swhite228

Well-Known Member
Laser cutters are awesome!

We had two laser cutters at ILM, and we used the heck out of them on styrene, acrylic and wood. Acrylic cuts better than styrene because the melting point is higher, but if you dial in your settings, styrene cuts very well. It's a balance between feed rate and power. Air assist helps a lot too.

We were constantly trying new techniques and materials on those machines. We cut rubber (sooty), leather (stinky! like burning flesh), MDF, plywood, PVC, polycarbonate (awful), glass (didn't work), etc... just to see what it'd do. Our big cutter (48"x 48") was supposed to be able to do metals as well, but we never set it up with inert gas. I never found the limit on that thing. The thickest material I ever cut on there was 1.25" thick acrylic, and it did it with out any problem. It had an indexed platten so you could load an full 4'x 8' sheet of plywood and cut big pieces. That's how all the ship bulkheads were cut for Pirates of the Caribbean.

I have a 24"x 36" cutter in my personal shop that I am upgrading the drive motors on. Like Adam Savage has said before, "once you get a laser cutter, you start to see everything as a laser cut kit".
Enjoy you new toy!

I seem to be doing the same thing with material. It used to be looking at the shapes of things to use in builds, now it's can it be used in the laser! The laser stash consists of several 4x4 ceramic tiles, a few mirror tiles, leather scrap, and the 1st victim... a hot dog that I etched my name on.

The best things I've learned (besides how to etch photos):
1. How to convert a 3d printer file(sla) that has been sliced to a laser file(svg) so I can cut the slices to use as bulk heads..
2. If you explain what you want material for a lot of businesses will ask you to bring a sample of your work in to look at which leads to them allowing you to leave a sample and contact info for them to show customers. If for some reason the laser makes money then a new K40 will replace the old one which will get upgraded to a more powerful tube and power supply.
 

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