The Laser Engraver good, bad and ugly
I recently bought one of these devices. It’s a Chinese built (don’t start) 40W CO2 laser. It will cut 3mm acrylic and wood. It engraves, wood, acrylic, leather and a few others. It will not engrave or cut metal. I am good with that; However, it will burn powder coating off aluminum cups and mugs, like the color coated Yeti cups.
There is whole lot to learn to get the most use out of this device and more than a few modifications needed to truly make it useful. It’s a water cooled device so it requires a temperature controlled water feed. Lots of internet chatter on what is best to keep the water chilled. Where this laser is setup the ambient temperature of the room is well below the max temp of the laser. This worked to my advantage. I was able to purchase a chiller that keeps the water at room temp.
It’s a laser cutting through wood. Which means smoke has to be expelled from the device. Since it is essentially drilling out the material the fine particles have to be blown away from the beam. The process also blows out any fire produced by the laser. So I needed a air extraction system. Thanks to legal pot growers I was able to buy a good one at a decent price. An aquarium air pump was a cheap way to blow the particles away.
Then there is the software needed to create the laser cuts and engravings. I am used to using raster graphic programs like Photoshop, but this requires vector graphics. A whole different mindset. JPEG and PNG Images need to be converted to bitmaps. Luckily Lightburn exists and seems to be extremely feature rich and easy to use.
However, once all this is mastered this device can produce some really cool stuff. I am excited about bringing these products to you all.