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Thinking about making a laser tool?

Posted by mung 
Thinking about making a laser tool?
September 20, 2011 07:35AM
I am now thinking about making a laser tool, but I have absolutely no knowledge of lasers.

I probably should go and find a hobby laser forum to ask this, but that just adds another web site I have to log into and keep track of, so as I am here already I thought I would ask........

I am considering making a 3watt solidstate laser, what is the easiest way to go about this project???
What advice can people give??
As usual I want fast, easy, cheap, results.

My initial thoughts are:

1) see if I can source 10 or more IR laser diodes for under £10
2)make up some drive electronics
3)experiment with stacking and combining multiple lasers into one beam to give higher output power.

Now I know people have done similar things before, but I really don't know in detail how it would be done.

Can anyone give quick start idiots guide advice on trying such a thing??

Do I need to consider focusing and optics to get a small beam confinement or do diodes as linked to above already have reasonable focus (I always imagined the cutting power of the laser is more a factor of how small the beam is giving a high energy per unit area??)

Could I use normal mirrors to combine beams when they are coming in from different angles, or would prisms be needed?

Cheap safety precautions, I don't want to have to spend huge money on special glasses and testing equipment, can I do this safely, what advice do people have, I want to avoid being blinded!!!!

What do I need to know about?

What wavelength beams are best for cutting different materials??

I have some old DVD-RW drives, would it be better experimenting with junk DVD burner lasers before spending on new ones?
Re: Thinking about making a laser tool?
September 20, 2011 08:50AM
... read through my laser-Wiki first ...

You need focussing optics and really good cooling of the diode!

Combining more diodes optically is possible, but you need really good optics and complex adjusting systems, what's not worth the fuzz ... better buy stronger fibercoupled diodes ...

Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org] -- Deutsche Facebook-Gruppe - [www.facebook.com]

Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
Re: Thinking about making a laser tool?
September 27, 2011 12:23PM
Cheers for the reply VDX, your laser wiki page has loads of useful info, excellent piece of work.

Unfortunately as usual I have charged in without thought and blown £16 on a job lot of 7 laser diodes and focusing optics.

I am going to ignore your good advice as I am cash poor relative to my free time.

Going to experiment with beam focusing and combining to see what I can achieve and also rig up some form of piped water cooling system.

I am sure your advice would be the best way to go if I had £200 to blow on the hobby.

Normally I always more concerned with doing these things as a pastime/hobby so the cost of time is unimportant, also I do quite like trying to improve my precision machining techniques, so the adjustment system for optics sounds quite interesting.

I think will be at least a month before I start as the lasers are being posted from China!(I am expecting very poor optics and quality, but it's really just hobby/learning experience so not that bothered). I have bought very low powered lasers as I will just be experimenting and want to reduce the possibility of burning my eyes out, but the focus optics should fit the higher power IR lasers if I decide it is possible to combine and focus multiple lasers and cool the system easily. I would guess if the experiment with combining 7 low power lasers works then it will cost another £10 to get about 3-5W of high power IR diodes to fit in the optics.

Anyways I don't expect to really do much or make any more posts on this project until christmas, but will definitely let people know when I discover using poor quality cheap diodes is a definite dead end.

I probably should check back in this forum and do more google searches on this in my free time before I start.
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