My original reason for getting the laser was to combine it with my Rostock Max 3D printer, and make my own laser etching machine!
|One of my first test-burns!|
More after the break!
Here's a video of the machine in operation:
To anyone interested in one of these lasers, please buy through the following link: http://zfer.us/C6Ms4
I get a commission on the sales through that one!
I'll be posting more pictures as time progresses and I laser etch more things!
|Triskel etched into belt leather|
To build this machine, I used a WickedLasers Spyder Arctic 3 2-watt (rated 2W, Measured 2.5W :) ) handheld laser, along with a SeeMeCNC Rostock Max 3D printer.
Using a coupler that I designed, I mounted the laser in place of the extruder on my printer. The designs for both the coupler, and the mounting sysrem I came up with for quick-change extruders are available here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:222878
Once the laser was mounted, and I could use GCODE to turn it on and off (advance filament to turn on, retract to turn off) I went about trying to figure out how to make the machine draw patterns.
Eventually, I settled on using the Inkscape GCodeTools plugin. With some tweaking and calibration (all curves must be converted to straight line segment sets so that GCT only generates G0s and G1s, setting Z heights to match the focal position of the laser, figuring out an alignment method etc), along with macros to clean the code (the GCT comments and unnecesary Z axis moves caused issues and wasted time, so I kludged together some macros to clean the files), I was able to generate code from vector files that would draw just about any shape.
While I am sharing these designs and ideas open-source, I STRONGLY caution anyone interested in attempting this project to be careful, and learn about proper safety procedures when working with lasers. Lasers like the Arctic 2Watt+ can BLIND YOU, even if all you are looking at is the REFLECTION! And I don't mean temporary inability to see, I mean permanent blindness.
Wear Safety Goggles (I reccomend investing in a proper pair of wrap-around laser safety goggles, as the LaserShades are not sufficient when dealing with lots of light reflecting around.)
Have a FIRE EXTINGUISHER close by, Just in case, after all, these lasers CAN ignite wood, paper, cardboard, hair, etc...
Wear a respirator. I didn't, and I spent the next day light-headed with a bad sore throat. You never know what fumes laser etching will give off!
Warn those that may enter the room you are etchin in to wait until the laser is off!
And last of all, Use common sense. If you aren't sure about something, post a comment here and I'll do my best to answer, but I will preface it in saying that I am NOT an expert. I am an inventor, I am a maker, I am a tinkerer. I have the scars to prove it.