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Help Choosing a Laser Cutter!

Posted by sarkfollower 
Help Choosing a Laser Cutter!
January 08, 2015 09:50PM
Hello! I am a 3-D artist needing opinions and advice from all of you terribly smart people! I am completely new to the world of laser engraving and cutting. I am going to be buying Adobe Illustrator soon and prefer to design on Mac based computers. Nothing against PCs- I just got tired of dealing with viruses. sad smiley What I want to do is create vector images and cut my designs out of wood. (specifically reclaimed wood like pallet wood or apple crate type materials). I am not as much interested in engraving- I want to be able to CUT solid wood (soft or hard) or glued up panels of wood. I would also like the ability to cut harder material like metal but need to start somewhere. From what I can tell, Epilog is the only company offering a Mac-based driver and it looks as though it is only offered on their fusion line. Big bucks needed for those. I am just wanting to see what others think? I don't need a terribly big cutting platform (I could start with a 12" by 12" for the type of product I make). I am making it by hand now and it is literally killing my fingers due to my backlog of orders. I need a user friendly program/laser to accomplish what I want to accomplish. I am a fairly quick study and willing to take the time it takes to learn a new system if it will save my fingers from certain death. Help! How should I start? What kind of laser or set up should I go with? Thanks for your advice in advance! smiling smiley

Re: Help Choosing a Laser Cutter!
January 08, 2015 10:11PM
Your Mac driving a machine should be no problem.
A Repetier, Marlin, or GRBL based system should be able to
take in and execute g-code.

Now cutting wood of any significant thickness is going to require a lot of power!
Perhaps 40 - 100W
that means a CO2 laser --- large tube type laser

and 12" x 12 " cut area

Ka Ching $$$$ lots of bucks

See laser area in


$500 would get you 12 x 8 inch cut area and usb interface

High Precise 40W CO2 Laser Engraving Cutting Machine Engraver Cutter USB Port

Why Adobe illustrator ? use open source inkscape or other FREE software

Work flow Draw (CAD) ----> Generate paths (Cam) ----> control machine/laser

confused smiley
Re: Help Choosing a Laser Cutter!
January 08, 2015 10:24PM
Okay... giving you my best "deer in headlights" look right now! I am no engineer. The g-code thing is totally over my head! LOL I just want to use a design program I am comfortable with that is user friendly (which is why I like AI) and hit print (or cut) and the laser turns on and cuts exactly what I make out of whatever I put on the platform. I know zero about this world as I use my hands to make everything I do right now. I am swamped with work and need to figure this out or I am not going to be able to fulfill orders. I will spend the money (reluctantly) if it means an easier system to execute what I need it to do. I just need to know what to buy and the best set up to have in my studio! You all are phenomenally smart and I just need a little friendly directional help! smiling smiley I also don't want to burn my house down.
Re: Help Choosing a Laser Cutter!
January 09, 2015 01:12PM
Well you are turning over what you made with your hands
to a robot that will do it for you
and nothing yet that will emulate human brain to human hand

I have no experience with press "CUT" systems
I have told my kitchen "make breakfast" and nothing happens!!

Workflow to "cut" a piece

Draw (CAD - Computer Aided Drafting)
--since the piece has thickness you need 2.5D or 3D drawing
--export image in a format to be fed to cutting machine.

Prepare to cut (CAM - Computer Aided Manufacturing)
--import drawing
--create paths for cutter
--generate instructions for cutting machine (G-code)

put cutter in router --- wipe blood off surface -- apply bandaid
put on red glasses and adjust laser

Send instructions to cutting machine

--G code file to tell machine how to cut in x, y, z coordinates
---- [en.wikipedia.org]

-------- example G1 Z-10 ----- command z-axis to - 10 mm
----------------------- G1 X50 Y25.3 F300 ------ Go to X=50mm Y=25mm at 300mm/min

a Shapeoko 2/3 NOT going to do it for you.

Perhaps look at Carvewright




confused smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/09/2015 01:13PM by cozmicray.
Re: Help Choosing a Laser Cutter!
May 07, 2015 09:24AM
Have a search for a local hacker or maker space, if you're in luck you can get access to a cutter for a small fee. There are other companies that will sell you time on a laser cutter by the hour/day this is very location dependant though. At the least you'll get experience with the machine before making/buying one.
Re: Help Choosing a Laser Cutter!
May 12, 2015 04:44AM
You can take a look at the ebay,their are many laser cutters!
Re: Help Choosing a Laser Cutter!
June 18, 2015 04:01AM
I think you can look the instructables wesite,their are many useful articles about the laser cutter
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