Laser cutter for beginner cosplayer

Psygnosis

New Member
Hi guys, sorry for bother you with this post but I cannot understand laser cut, also If I have read everything possible on web.

I'd like to buy a laser cut that doens't cost me 1k €/$ and that engrave and cut styrofoam/polystyrene, eva foam(at least 3mm, 10mm will be awsome), and that can cut adesive sheet (I don't know hot that are called in english, I mean that adesive sheet that I can put on plexiglass for example to do decals).

I know maybe this is impossible, but I'd like at least to understand how a laser cutter works, because the chinese one on amazon are called "engraver" and doesn't seems to "cut" enything, and there are version DIY completely open and 40W version closed...

Please. help me to understand this thing
 

xl97

Sr Member
Most -ready to go- lasers will cost you thousands.. one of the cheaper ones is Full Spectrum (but still outside of your budget it seems)

There have been MANY stories and blog posts and tutorials outline ones adventure in ordering a laser cutter from China.. (give it a google search)

but depending on what you want to do and the software you are comfortable using.. you maybe need to add more stuff on.


I personally have a 40w Full Spectrum hobby laser.. and I like it a lot.. their software (while could use some more updates and options) is pretty simple to use.

You wont be able to cut anything metal... and you -shouldnt- cut any sort of plastics/adhesives that have PVC in it
 

calico1997

Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I don't do it myself but I've been warned to avoid the super cheap ones advertised on places like Alibaba. They can be quite dangerous.
 

Psygnosis

New Member
I personally have a 40w Full Spectrum hobby laser.. and I like it a lot.. their software (while could use some more updates and options) is pretty simple to use.
Do you cut / engrave foam? Or Styrofoam?
Do you think for cosplay make it's better a laser engraver or a cnc? Maybe with a diy cnc i could mod it with a drag knives and cut vinyl and maybe something else?
 

TazMan2000

Sr Member
There is no one tool that will do everything. Laser cutters also emit dangerous fumes depending what you're cutting so you will have to have venting and a fan. For thick foam you would probably have to buy a CNC cutter, but thin foam can be cut with a Cricut or a Silhouette craft cutter. Styrene sheets would probably best cut with a CNC but I have heard that people can do it with a laser if they use a low setting and several passes. Styrene melts very easily, so you can imagine what a laser does. The CNC tools spin very fast and also cause styrene to melt.

Cosplay is such a vague term. Depending on the costume, you may need several machines,

TazMan2000
 

xl97

Sr Member
IMO.....I guess it depends on your end needs/projects.

It you want to do adhesive/stickers (paper cutting..etc).. then I would say a nice vinyl cutter/plotter is best suited..

If you plan on making things that are more 3D in nature... the a CNC (ie: make/form your master parts.. and use them for molding/casting.. like for armor pieces of something)

If you need intricate 2D type pieces.... or want to do engraving.. that a laser might be best suited... (might also be done with an engraving tool in CNC as well... all depends to be honest)


While I do -not- have any CNC machines.. I do have a manual lathe & mill..
A Silhouette vinyl cutter -AND- a laser cutter.. :)

(along with other tools/toys)

I personally have never cut foam or styrene myself.. (I have wanted to try cutting some styrene though..just never had any on hand)


As far as Chinese laser cutters.. I personally am on the fence!

I have read SO MANY horror stories over the years..

but I have more recently read people 'making it work'

Whether is the shipping and import process..

or the set up and software stuff... my suggestion is to READ FIRST and be prepared. Have a game plan.

One of the people at my maker space got a fairly big chinese laser cutter... and didnt seem to have much issues with anything. I'm not exactly clear what software or tool chain they use unfortunately to comment on.. but success stories DO exist.

I'd say read on Hackaday or anywhere else people have posted their adventures in ordering these Chinese laser and set-up..etc.

I would think the support is pretty non-existent.
 
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Jasonpgr

New Member
Depending on how handy you are, I strongly suggest making your own. I started with making 3d printers and I've since then made a couple CNC machines and a giant laser cutter. There are tons of great documentation, 3d models, and parts for sale on websites like OpenBuilds Part Store for a cheap and really easy to handle laser cutter, you can use their Arco system. Really cheap, and since you'll be following their tutorial and using their parts you can always contact them for customer service, and you'll have a much better understanding of the components, how it works, and what goes into it so you can handle any hiccups you might run into.

For CNC machines, they have tons of options of various sizes. I have two CNC's in my shop I made using designs from the openbuilds website and they have turned out tons and tons really great work for me. I'd be happy to help steer you in the right direction if you have any questions or need a starting point on making your own machine.
 

PlanetAlexander

Jr Member
I was thinking about saving up for a laser cutter then saw the prices... nope, not nearly yet.
Looks like cutting machines may not be bad to start off with, but can anyone reccomend one? I checked out the Cricut ones and the Silhouette Curio Electronic Machine and while I guess they both look good, I don't know what I should be comparing...
 

xl97

Sr Member
I dont know if Cricut has changed how they do things.. but they USED TO only sell 'pre-made' cartridges for new fonts, clip art..etc you could NOT just use your own designs or fonts..etc.. or import anything.

I went with the Silhouette Cameo (the older version, pre-lcd screen)

I have used for it all kinds of things.. paper, stickers, masks,.. even cut some overhead transparencies to make solder past stencils for some SMD pcb/circuit boards..

Full Spectrum Laser was the 'cheapest' "American" seller/vendor I have found.

(Its what I currently have/use)

I dont think I would recommend them any more, but they are worth comparing against.
 
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Darth Lars

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
If I were you, I would search for a maker space in your area. If they don't have a laser cutter, then there could be interest in crowdfunding one, because it often becomes the most popular machine once it is available.

However, because styrene is difficult to "cut" with laser, it is not an allowed material in my local maker space's laser cutter.
I think polystyrene foam and EVA foam are not too difficult to cut by hand with box cutters anyway.
 
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