Author Topic: $2000 Budget - help me choose a CO2 Laser.  (Read 1082 times)

ggallant571

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Re: $2000 Budget - help me choose a CO2 Laser.
« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2018, 02:17:32 PM »
What is the highest allowable water temperature?
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wild.bill

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Re: $2000 Budget - help me choose a CO2 Laser.
« Reply #16 on: October 01, 2018, 03:31:55 PM »
There is no agreement on what the max temp should be. The doc's that came with my laser says keep it below 25c but there are a lot of people that say less than that. I try to keep mine between 18c and 20c.
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Zax

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Re: $2000 Budget - help me choose a CO2 Laser.
« Reply #17 on: October 01, 2018, 05:23:31 PM »
That's a good target, it's higher temperatures that reduce the tube life.

jtice

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Re: $2000 Budget - help me choose a CO2 Laser.
« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2018, 06:00:09 AM »
Got the laser on friday, super fast shipping.
I was amazed that it all seems fine, aligned well, and all in working order.
Got it fired up last night, cant wait to figure out what settings I need for what materials so I can get to cranking stuff out!
Plan on making a few videos about it also once I know it well.

wild.bill

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Re: $2000 Budget - help me choose a CO2 Laser.
« Reply #19 on: October 15, 2018, 05:36:10 PM »
Good to see you got the machine with no problems. Sounds like your's is like mine, well assembled and aligned. Worked well out of the box, or should I say crate.

First thing you should do is add a mA meter and do a profile of the power % vs current. On my machine the tube is at max power when the controller is set to 65%.

It gets expensive if you start over driving the tube.

Good luck with it.

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jtice

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Re: $2000 Budget - help me choose a CO2 Laser.
« Reply #20 on: October 22, 2018, 06:08:12 AM »
So far so good with this machine, it was pretty well aligned, but a few tweeks got it even better.
My lens was installed upside down (curve down) but it didnt seem to make much difference once I flipped it.
Plus the focus gauge that was provided was a bit tall, so I cut my own and can now focus is even tighter.
I added the mA meter immediately. I dont go over 85%, which is 20mA on my machine.
Also built a platform for my laptop and bolted it on top the machine.


wild.bill

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Re: $2000 Budget - help me choose a CO2 Laser.
« Reply #21 on: October 22, 2018, 02:31:29 PM »
Most of the machines like this have the lens installed upside down from what we want for cutting.

Watch the RDWorks Learning Lab video's and Russ talks about this.

The machines are sold as engraving machines, not cutting machines. With the lens upside down you can get a smaller dot with very shallow focus which might be better for engraving. It is a good idea to figure out the focal length of the lens both ways and work out the configuration that gives the best engraving.

The focus gauge that came with the machine could be correct for curved side down.
It sounds like you are doing well with the machine and understanding it which is great.

Other idea's that I got from Russ's video's are having the controller turn my exhust fan on/off (via SSR) when I start a job so I don't have to listen to the fan when I am not actually using the machine. I also turn the air on/off, I always have a small amount of air going through the nozzle to keep smoke away from the lens and a higher volume when air assist is needed and the air valves are controlled by the controller as well.
A clean lens is a happy lens.

For fine image engraving on wood I find that my diode laser does a better job (but takes longer), but for cutting the Co2 laser is far better. I cut a lot of acrylic parts, and make things with MDF like clocks.
Laser: was an A3 2.0w TTL L6 Z axis now 2'x3'
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wild.bill

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Re: $2000 Budget - help me choose a CO2 Laser.
« Reply #22 on: October 22, 2018, 02:34:40 PM »
Here is another clock, 2 layers of MDF and one layer of acrylic (the bowl) on top.
Laser: was an A3 2.0w TTL L6 Z axis now 2'x3'
          OpenBuilds ACRO 510 w/ 2.0W TTL laser Cohesion Mini Z axis Homing switches
          K40 Cohesion Mini 60W LightObject LPS
          80W Red-Black 500x700

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ThothLoki

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Re: $2000 Budget - help me choose a CO2 Laser.
« Reply #23 on: October 22, 2018, 03:50:05 PM »
jtice,

have you given Lightburn a try? i hear it is a lot better than RD works.
Just what i have heard. i do not have any experience with either
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wild.bill

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Re: $2000 Budget - help me choose a CO2 Laser.
« Reply #24 on: October 22, 2018, 03:54:12 PM »
I have used both and like LightBurn much better for creating, but there are still some
config things that you need RD works for.
Laser: was an A3 2.0w TTL L6 Z axis now 2'x3'
          OpenBuilds ACRO 510 w/ 2.0W TTL laser Cohesion Mini Z axis Homing switches
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jtice

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Re: $2000 Budget - help me choose a CO2 Laser.
« Reply #25 on: October 23, 2018, 05:31:28 AM »
I need to play around with the lens again, but it seems to be doing fine curved side up.
It made my focal point just a couple mm closer to the work piece.
I also need to play around with setting it just a bit out of focus for engraving, I hear it can make the scan lines show up even less, and can even burn darker.
Thats one thing I have noticed, my diode laser made a much darker engraving, but, that was largely in part to the ash now being blown away as well, even though it had air assist.
The CO2 seems to really burn away and remove material. I want to find out what I need to do in order to get the engravings darker with more contrast.
Maybe taking the laser out of focus, and adding a regulator to teh air assist to have it remove less material?
But, I do like that the CO2 laser is leaving a clean work piece when I am done, that you can touch and not get dirty,
 the diode laser you would NOT touch the engraving. So I clear coated everything.

Love that Gear Clock!
I need to look into clock designs, my sister is wanting me to make her one soon.

I have been using LightBurn for a while, even when I had my diode laser, its GREAT !!!!!!
Only time I have even opened RDWorks was to adjust a few vendor settings.

I have a switch panel on top my machine, to turn the water, exhaust and air assist on and off.
I dont run the exhaust or assist when Im not running a job, yea, too damn loud  haha
But if you have any info on how to have the controller turn them on and off, I would be very interested in that!
Do Russ's vids show enough info to pull that off? I will have to look into that, Ive watched a handful of his vids.

wild.bill

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Re: $2000 Budget - help me choose a CO2 Laser.
« Reply #26 on: October 23, 2018, 03:20:29 PM »
There is enough info in the video's to pull it all off. I will attach a PDF that Russ made for how he hooked his up. It is very consuming time wise to watch all of the video's and I found some were not of interest so I just skipped them. But there is a great deal of good information. The title says RD Works but most is very useful for any Co2 laser and host software.

On the controller "status" is active low and is active whenever the machine is running. That is the one that I used for the extraction fan. Wind is active low and active when the machine is running and air assist is asked for. Where Russ shows a relay for the air pump I used an SSR designed to switch AC an I think it will work with up to 300V AC so it would be good with 120V or 240V.

This is the Pneumatic Electric Solenoid that I use for switching the air assist https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VTULZTU/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Laser: was an A3 2.0w TTL L6 Z axis now 2'x3'
          OpenBuilds ACRO 510 w/ 2.0W TTL laser Cohesion Mini Z axis Homing switches
          K40 Cohesion Mini 60W LightObject LPS
          80W Red-Black 500x700

cool is simply a subjective state of mind

jtice

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Re: $2000 Budget - help me choose a CO2 Laser.
« Reply #27 on: October 23, 2018, 07:42:16 PM »
Thanks Bill!
This is definitely something I will have to look into doing later, sounds like that would be a sweet setup,
and I like that I cant forget to turn on the air assist, ;)