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Help kickstart Lasersaur (FLOSS laser cutter)

Posted by ErikDeBruijn 
Help kickstart Lasersaur (FLOSS laser cutter)
May 31, 2010 01:33PM
For those of you not using twitter, you may not have heard of this yet. I'm cross posting this, it was posted on RepLab.org and openmanufacturing.org too.

---

There's another initiative to develop an Open Source Laser Cutter:
Those willing to help out financially can do so through Kickstarter.
[bit.ly]

Needless to say, if you cannot help out financially, there are more
direct ways such as contributing knowledge.

Note that this particular project is not formally affiliated with
[RepLab.org]. RepLab does, however, endorse development of open source
hardware that will make fabrication technologies more accessible with
the benefits of the systems being open and modular at many layers of
their technology stack. Inherent benefits are that the technologies
can be built upon to create new ones, implementations can be
customized to fit a specific need and more rapid progress can be
expected because of better allocation of human capital (due to
voluntary self selection and being very open to external input).

This is also a good resource for those who want to build an open
source Laser Cutter:
[www.buildlog.net]

There are many resources documenting DIY laser cutters, feel free to
add good ones and to discuss how we can lower this barrier to
production of production methods!


Regards,

Erik de Bruijn
[Ultimaker.com] - [blog.erikdebruijn.nl]
Re: Help kickstart Lasersaur (FLOSS laser cutter)
May 31, 2010 03:47PM
Hmm,
The prices they are aiming for don't seem to take into account you buy them cheaper than that from China.


[www.hydraraptor.blogspot.com]
Re: Help kickstart Lasersaur (FLOSS laser cutter)
May 31, 2010 04:42PM
Everyone should decide for themselves whether they think it is worth it.

As you know, an open source system has inherent benefits. Also, availability of open source alternatives can stimulate the commercial vendors to innovate since the bar is raised (because of the alternative offering, but mostly because it decreases barriers for new entrants in the industry).

There are definitely economies of scale favoring manufacturing them in larger quantities, and obviously lower wages there don't make us competitive. So for sure the Chinese laser cutters will be interesting if you just want to use a standard laser cutter.

But then again I'm not building my RepRap "just" to be competitive. In the same way I think building a laser could be a fun experience, and the fact that you're independent of manufacturers (you can do maintenance yourself) and can tailor it to your own specific needs are significant enough reasons for trying this. For people REALLY interested in the technology itself, this is a great project. It might also make for a nice (hybrid) SLS machine down the road. There's a saving in combining the two functions. For smaller build envelopes using mirrors and galvo's might be better, though.

You can still decide to go for Chinese (replacement) components for the guts of the otherwise open source laser cutter. I'm not sure with what kind of expenditure you'll end up then. The "Buildlog" link in my post might be a better way to go, in that case.

But let me know if you have good sources of cheap Chinese lasers. Also, I'm hoping that they run G-Code or have non-chinese manual smiling smiley I'm sometimes worried it requires a lot of research to really start using the system (but that might be just FUD that the western vendors create).

I think that the cost can further go down and capabilities can increase when more people get into developing these lasers. Don't worry that I will defect and stop working on RepRap, btw. I won't. Just at the moment I'm just really busy with finishing my masters thesis, so no RepRapping for me... sad smiley


Regards,

Erik de Bruijn
[Ultimaker.com] - [blog.erikdebruijn.nl]
VDX
Re: Help kickstart Lasersaur (FLOSS laser cutter)
May 31, 2010 05:08PM
Hi Erik,

... between 1990 and 1995 i built three different CO2-lasercutters similar to the linked types - one with a 'naked' 3W-tube, two with sealed RF-CO2-laser with 5 Watts.

Modern lasers have more power, are cheaper and easier to use, but have the same strong limitations in lifetime as my old ones - after some ten hours of constant use the output power decreased and i had to recalibrate the power for proper function until after 200 or 300 hours the rendered nearly useless eye rolling smiley

For this i started with laserdiodes which have some tenthousand hours lifetime (if not overheated).

Because of the diffferent wavelength the possible materials are the main limitation, but when focussing on dark plastics or absorbing materials (e.g. coloured powders for sintering) you can make serious laserapplicatons even with 2 Watts of output power.

My pigtailed diodes have 5 Watts, so i can only cut thin sheets of (dark) plastic, but for powder-sintering and small footprints its maybe even more interesting than the bulky CO2-tubes ...

I'm developing ready to use modules as toolheads adaptable to the RepRap as exchangeable head for around 300 Euros (or around 80 Euros for the pigtailed diode with corresponding focussing lenses) and can offer a real big count of sets, so this could be maybe a better start than sourcing chinese CO2-tubes?


Viktor
--------
Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org]
Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
Re: Help kickstart Lasersaur (FLOSS laser cutter)
June 01, 2010 03:26AM
I wonder why the CO2 lasers degraded... (300 hours of actual operation is not that bad, is it?)

I would be interested in those lasers for mounting it on a RepRap. I acquired a ~1W diode laser myself but still need all the other stuff. But given the enclosure (or the lack thereof) I'm not sure whether it's very safe?


Regards,

Erik de Bruijn
[Ultimaker.com] - [blog.erikdebruijn.nl]
VDX
Re: Help kickstart Lasersaur (FLOSS laser cutter)
June 01, 2010 03:49AM
Hi Eric,

... 'good' CO2-Lasers have lifetimes of 200 to 400 hours, then the gas isn't clean enough for optimal operation and the output power reduces slowly until inoperability. Cheap chinese CO2-lasers can degrade 20% to 30% even after only 50 hours constant operation eye popping smiley

Diodelasers have lifetimes between 10.000 to 20.000 hours in 100%-mode and if you drive them with max. 90% (e.g. only 4.9Amps instead of the 5.5Amps max. specified) they can run 'for ever' grinning smiley

If embeded vertically in the bot the laserbeam is only dangerous, when you have reflecting parts in the working area.

The laser-goggles are essential for experimenting, but you can protect you by putting a light-tight housing around - the operation is much more reliable than with the extruder, so you can run the laser without personal monitoring ... but you can apply a webcam near the laserhead, so you can monitor the proces complete safe either cool smiley

I'll make some of the modules the next weeks/months and already offered sets for testing for the core-team, so the 'seeding' with loan sets for the RUGs could be extended with laser-modules too ...


Viktor
--------
Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org]
Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
Re: Help kickstart Lasersaur (FLOSS laser cutter)
June 01, 2010 04:10AM
Unfortunately laser diodes are not the right frequency for making a laser cutter so this project will be CO2 of some sort. The thing that put me off building one myself is that a 100W tube is about 1.8m long and even a 40w tube is about 800mm long so I don't have room for one. I think RF lasers are shorter so perhaps that is the way to go.


[www.hydraraptor.blogspot.com]
VDX
Re: Help kickstart Lasersaur (FLOSS laser cutter)
June 01, 2010 04:35AM
Hi Chris,

... really, you can't cut transparent or bright materials eye rolling smiley

And with only 5Watts you're limited to thin plastic sheets with absorbing properties - but this is enough for (3D-) laminating and lettering/marking grinning smiley

With powder-sintering you can make 3D-objects or you can coat a surface with a thin slice of powder (or paste), melt partially and remove the not melted material ... with this i could mark a white tile with black glass - and its possible for colour-marking transparent plastics too ...


Viktor
--------
Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org]
Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
Re: Help kickstart Lasersaur (FLOSS laser cutter)
June 01, 2010 05:53AM
Yes I have no doubt we can do interesting things with laser diodes, but not make a laser cutter in the conventional sense of the name, like the one being proposed here. People expect a laser cutter to be able to cut large, thick (at least 6mm) sheets of acrylic and such, not a subset of thin sheets of dark material.


[www.hydraraptor.blogspot.com]
VDX
Re: Help kickstart Lasersaur (FLOSS laser cutter)
June 01, 2010 06:05AM
... i think its more the separation in two basic areas - cutting thick sheets with high power, whats only possible with big and/or expensive lasers ...
- and lowpower-applications like marking and sign-making ...

I've seen many DIY-systems around BluRay diodes with 100mW power and IR-diodes with 500mW to 1Watt, so this is a really active area too.

We should start both directions: - big/bulky highpower-applications and slim lowpower.

You have to design the plotter and housing in respect to your desired application ...


Viktor
--------
Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org]
Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
Re: Help kickstart Lasersaur (FLOSS laser cutter)
June 02, 2010 04:42AM
Yes, I thing both routes are viable but the are definitely for different applications. Laser engraving might be more appropriate for the smaller, low-power applications. Laser cutting for the bigger ones.
For RepRappers the small version is a really cool toolhead to have... Plus wear laser goggles is cool winking smiley
I'd have to get warning signs for lasers and bio-hazard (NaOH and other chemicals). Oh, and "Cats not allowed", too smiling smiley

Note that additive and subtractive processes will be even more complementary when you're cutting acrylic (PMMA) and use the scrap for additive manufacturing. Nophead already proved that PMMA prints pretty well! If I ever have the time I want to setup a recycling process at the FabLabs so they can essentially RepRap for free forever because of all the waste acrylic...


Regards,

Erik de Bruijn
[Ultimaker.com] - [blog.erikdebruijn.nl]
Re: Help kickstart Lasersaur (FLOSS laser cutter)
June 05, 2010 04:02AM
Erik,

Do you think they'd like to formally affiliate with us, (and use our wiki for their documentation?)

There's lots of room under our banner, and it would be good to have them.


-Sebastien, RepRap.org library gnome.

Remember, you're all RepRap developers (once you've joined the super-secret developer mailing list), and the wiki, RepRap.org, [reprap.org] is for everyone and everything! grinning smiley
Re: Help kickstart Lasersaur (FLOSS laser cutter)
June 05, 2010 04:23AM
Can't tell because I don't know them personally. But we could definitely offer them that they can use our infrastructure to document it. Plus we already have most of the control systems to make a G-Code based laser cutter. So there could definitely be some "code" reuse.


Regards,

Erik de Bruijn
[Ultimaker.com] - [blog.erikdebruijn.nl]
Re: Help kickstart Lasersaur (FLOSS laser cutter)
June 05, 2010 04:42AM
Erik,

Would you like to contact them? You're one of the point guys for RepLab.

Let me know if you are busy and I'll do so; I was just writing a fellow I met at Bay Area Maker Faire who is also building a laser cutter, and who may be documenting under the RepRap banner.


-Sebastien, RepRap.org library gnome.

Remember, you're all RepRap developers (once you've joined the super-secret developer mailing list), and the wiki, RepRap.org, [reprap.org] is for everyone and everything! grinning smiley
Re: Help kickstart Lasersaur (FLOSS laser cutter)
June 07, 2010 06:18AM
I sent them a message. I'll let you know the response.


Regards,

Erik de Bruijn
[Ultimaker.com] - [blog.erikdebruijn.nl]
Re: Help kickstart Lasersaur (FLOSS laser cutter)
August 14, 2012 05:40AM
For laser cutting, the beam must be focused by a lens to a small spot size, typically 25-100µm in diameter for fine cutting and 100um to 300µm diameter for thicker section cutting. Coaxial gas is delivered just above the laser focus by a nozzle that surrounds the laser beam. This helps to keep the optics clean and improves the cutting process by pushing vaporised and liquified material out through the kerf.
Re: Help kickstart Lasersaur (FLOSS laser cutter)
August 14, 2012 05:45AM
jklaser, as much as the information you post seem valuable, could you avoid making it feel like spam by methodically inserting a link to your site ? Thanks in advance.


Most of my technical comments should be correct, but is THIS one ?
Anyway, as a rule of thumb, always double check what people write.
VDX
Re: Help kickstart Lasersaur (FLOSS laser cutter)
August 14, 2012 07:46AM
... I've already targeted 'jklaser' as likely spammer, but will wait a bit before deleting the posts and the account ...


Viktor
--------
Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org]
Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
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