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General => Open Discussion => Topic started by: culturejam on May 27, 2017, 06:50:19 PM

Title: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on May 27, 2017, 06:50:19 PM
I'm still in the early phases of testing, but the results are good so far.

When I say "cheap", I mean $100-ish. And by engraving, I mean cutting through powdercoat or paint down to the metal.

I ordered a 1.5W diode-based unit that was $129 from Amazon. It's this one. (http://amzn.to/2s1Our7) It's fully assembled, has bluetooth hookup for Android / iOS apps, and has a rechargeable internal battery (making it outlandishly portable). Overall, I find it to be a pretty darn good machine. I found it elsewhere for $100, but then there was shipping and who knows the policy for returns.

Yes, it will engrave through powdercoating, at least on the stuff from BLMS. I will test with a few other vendors and see, but I don't expect it will be significantly different.

But gents, I would not get this unit if I were you guys. The carving area is just way too small: 42mm x 42mm. This means you can only do a 1590a, and at that only a portion of the full surface area. So yeah, it works as advertised, but it's just too small for our purposes. But, it did serve as a good test bed to find out how much power you need to cut powdercoat. I suspect it could be done with less, but almost all of the small/cheap units have the same limitations on carving area. Also, the software BLOWS. The power of the laser can't be reduced; it always runs wide open. The only control is speed, which works out okay, but the ideal situation is to be able to control both. Also, the only "fixturing" on this one is a pair of rubber bands. Another alternative is to use double-sided tape. Lame.

So of course, I've already ordered a larger laser engraver.  ;D  This one (https://www.banggood.com/2_5W-Desktop-DIY-Violet-Laser-Engraver-Engraving-Machine-Picture-CNC-Printer-Assembling-Kits-p-1001413.html) has a carving area of 200mm x 130mm, which should be good enough for up to 1590BB. And it's got a 2.5W laser, which is upgradeable to 5.5W (or possibly even higher). And it's gotten a lot of good reviews all around.

I'll keep you all updated as to the workings of the new unit. Dave is going to help me sort out how to get the alignment issue solved. But I think this might be the start of a very cool way to do enclosure finishing on the cheap. I plan to test out if it's possible to do two different layers of paint color and the just etch through the top layer. That would rock.

And of course, all of these cheap ones will mark wood, paper, and other organic materials, as well as plastic. My 1.5W unit will cut paper and very thin cardboard, but not even the thinest wood I could find. I've read that at 2.5W, you can cut 3mm hobby plywood.

A couple pics to keep you interested. I'll be posting some final results later tonight.

First one is a 1590a strapped onto the gurney. :)
Second one is just starting the second pass (first pass doesn't go deep enough, but two seems to work out. I'm trying three right now to see if it's better than two, but I suspect it won't be much different).


Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: BrianS on May 27, 2017, 06:54:34 PM
That is really cool. 
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: rmfroyd on May 27, 2017, 06:58:11 PM
Awesome stuff!  For better fixturing, have the outline in your program, tape thin cardboard onto your bed, cut the outline out on cardboard, remove inner and set pedal in pocket. If you have any other questions let me know, I have been lazering for almost 20 years.

Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: wgc on May 27, 2017, 07:50:14 PM
Oh cool!  I was thinking about getting something like this, but using a reprap as a controller, and Inkscape plugins to create g code. Maybe the controller will take Inkscape G code?  Anyway I figured the included software isn't good. Didn't think it could do powdercoat either.

As for alignment, the cardboard pocket idea is sound. You need to know where zero on the bed is, and check that it's consistent between setups. Then you can make a template in your image software with desired offsets from zero, make your pocket, and get some repeatability.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on May 27, 2017, 07:55:09 PM
The problem with this unit is that it's not big enough to cut a cardboard template for a 1590a. Also, there are no limit switches, so getting a true zero is pretty hard. There is a "preview" where it traces a rectangle of the max dimensions of the outline of the artwork. This allows for sizing and changes to placement of the thing being engraved.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: wgc on May 27, 2017, 08:02:07 PM
Gotcha. That's one part of what I meant by offsets i.e. Can't fit the whole thing in there. But also a little better not set up right at the edge of the bed.

There's probably a mechanical limit but other variables for sure. I guess you could cut a new pocket each time and be fairly close.

And not so much a pocket as much as some guides. I actually prefer the preview I think.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: selfdestroyer on May 27, 2017, 08:27:04 PM
Thanks for all the work/info on this CJ. I love how this stuff is really getting affordable for small DIY use. I look forward to your review of the EleksMaker since it seems to be more up my alley since I don't mess with 1590A's much. This would be a great addition to my monoprice mini 3D printer.

Cody
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: alanp on May 27, 2017, 08:33:58 PM
Oooooh! That is nice. Can those deal with acrylic panels?
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: jimilee on May 27, 2017, 09:32:56 PM
That's a  lot of words, so I stopped reading and looked at the pictures, that's freakin cool! I need to have one.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on May 27, 2017, 09:37:19 PM
Oooooh! That is nice. Can those deal with acrylic panels?

I think at the 2.5W level, it can at least engrave acrylic. Not sure if that's enough to cut, but I guess if it's pretty thin, it might do the trick.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on May 27, 2017, 09:49:45 PM
Okay, so the results are in. Even after three passes at the slowest speed (ie - max power), it won't clear the powdercoat all the way to the metal. There didn't seem to be any difference between two and three passes, but I did the third one for science.

But, it gets maybe 95% of the way there. So I used a small dental pick to scrape that last bit out of the cutout. The powdercoat on this box is so thick that this was an easy process. Took about 10 minutes to do the letters.

So, two passes at 30 minutes each plus 10 minutes of cleanup work. Not exactly high-speed, but for hobbyist stuff, I think it's not bad at all. Also, I did not test anything other than the slowest speed, so it's possible that the time could be cut down by running the laser a bit faster.

Pics attached. First is three passes of etching as is. Then showing one letter cleared. And then the final.

Overall, I'm pleased. The bigger laser working area with higher power and better software should really make things better. I will of course give a full report when I've got the new gear set up and tested.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: nzCdog on May 27, 2017, 11:31:57 PM
Thats fuzz'n awesome bruh.  ;D  8)
I was pipe dreaming about these a while back, never saw these models tho.  Any chance it could etch a copper-clad you think?
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on May 27, 2017, 11:39:03 PM
Any chance it could etch a copper-clad you think?

Nope. Etching reflective metal isn't really what most lasers are good at. You need serious power to deep-etch metal. And that's not cheap at all. A small CnC would be a lot cheaper and more effective.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: pickdropper on May 28, 2017, 05:42:40 AM
Any chance it could etch a copper-clad you think?

Nope. Etching reflective metal isn't really what most lasers are good at. You need serious power to deep-etch metal. And that's not cheap at all. A small CnC would be a lot cheaper and more effective.

You also need the right wavelength.  For example, FFX uses a really nice CO2 laser that won't touch metal.  If you want to etch metal, you need a YAG or Fiber laser, which has the right wavelength for metal but isn't as good with acrylic and glass.  Overall, CO2 lasers are more flexible.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: pickdropper on May 28, 2017, 05:45:57 AM
Oooooh! That is nice. Can those deal with acrylic panels?

I think at the 2.5W level, it can at least engrave acrylic. Not sure if that's enough to cut, but I guess if it's pretty thin, it might do the trick.

It would have to be pretty thin.  A 30W laser can't cut 1/2" acrylic, but thinner stuff *might* be possible.

Still, I wouldn't cut acrylic without some ventilation and air movement across the cut.  Without that, you'll have really noxious fumes and the acrylic will catch on fire.  I've seen entire sheets of acrylic go up in flames when somebody forgot to turn the fan/air assist on.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: madbean on May 28, 2017, 09:03:34 AM
CJ - do you think it would be possible to index larger enclosures on your small machine so you could etch more surface area in additional passes? Like, center/top/bottom of one face.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: wgc on May 28, 2017, 11:35:30 AM
Any chance it could etch a copper-clad you think?

Nope. Etching reflective metal isn't really what most lasers are good at. You need serious power to deep-etch metal. And that's not cheap at all. A small CnC would be a lot cheaper and more effective.

You can't etch the copper, but you can paint it first, and then selectively etch the paint off. Meaning, if you laser etch a negative version of the transfer image into the paint, you can use the laser to prep your pcb for chemical etching. Getting the right paint, laser settings, paint thickness, etc all working together could be a long process. All things considered I think it's easier to do cnc engraving as suggested earlier.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: gordo on May 28, 2017, 02:20:16 PM
I was really stoked when I saw this thread but am realizing the limitations now.  Is it possible to get a reasonably priced CNC machine capable of working the sized stuff we use?  Thinking that would be cool to do PCB's and engraved type stuff on enclosures.  I know nothing about this stuff other than it involves some type of magic or unicorn fluids of some type.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on May 28, 2017, 04:52:04 PM
CJ - do you think it would be possible to index larger enclosures on your small machine so you could etch more surface area in additional passes? Like, center/top/bottom of one face.

Somebody smarter than me could probably do it. The problem with this one is that most of the larger enclosures simply won't fit. You would have to modify the laser enclosure to expand the working area. I've attached a photo of a 1590BB in there. Etches out to the edges would be pretty hard since the enclosure would bump into the side walls as the platform moved. The laser head does X moves and the platform does the Y (on this machine). That's another reason I've ordered a bigger one. The new one has X/Y done by by the laser head/gantry. The material being etched never moves.

The one on order isn't all that big either (14" x 14" footprint). As sson as I have it, I'll post some pics. I don't think the smaller one I have is worth the hassle for pedal engraving.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: madbean on May 28, 2017, 05:42:58 PM
Those look a whole lot like CD Rom carriages. I wonder if it's using stepper motors from CD Rom drives?
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on May 28, 2017, 06:08:20 PM
Those look a whole lot like CD Rom carriages. I wonder if it's using stepper motors from CD Rom drives?

Actually, I think it might be. I read on some forum something about CD rom parts.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: pickdropper on May 28, 2017, 06:09:15 PM
Those look a whole lot like CD Rom carriages. I wonder if it's using stepper motors from CD Rom drives?

Actually, I think it might be. I read on some forum something about CD rom parts.

Turbo Lightscribe?
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on May 29, 2017, 11:03:28 PM
Did some cut testing. I got some blank beer coasters. They are "medium weight fiberboard", which my calipers tell me are 1.25mm thick. This is the typical light cardboard coaster you get any bar or restaurant.

Three passes at max power cuts through 100%.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: drolo on May 31, 2017, 01:50:11 PM
Really cool stuff!
Now if only there was a way to combine it with this ... :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lg__B6Ca3jc

 8)
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on May 31, 2017, 03:09:50 PM
Dammit, Rolo! Now I'm going to have to look into this as well.  ;D
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: drolo on May 31, 2017, 03:17:06 PM
Dammit, Rolo! Now I'm going to have to look into this as well.  ;D
Next step, cast your own enclosures  ;D
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: somnif on May 31, 2017, 03:27:53 PM
Dammit, Rolo! Now I'm going to have to look into this as well.  ;D
Next step, cast your own enclosures  ;D

Casting is fun, but its a pain to get "good" work from it. Sand casting is "easy" but leaves rough surfaces. Lost wax (what I have most experience with) is precise but requires a lot of specialized equipment to work at larger scales and to avoid air bubbles.

And in either case, casting aluminum is a bit of an adventure on its own. I once damn near blinded myself casting ingots of 50/50 magnesium/aluminum, ah the joys of being a reckless teenager with low self preservation skills.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on May 31, 2017, 10:47:04 PM
Madbean was right. A 1590BB will actually fit. I still think it would be pretty hard to have multiple burn runs to make art big enough to fill the whole enclosure, but I'm sure it can be done if someone is suitably motivated. I am not.  ;D

The powdercoat on this one was a LOT thinner, so the final cleanout was harder. My pick kept jumping out of the groove and scratching the surface of the non-etched areas.

Also, I noticed that when the laser software is in "preview" mode (where it shows a rectangular outline of where the art will be etched), it leaks a bit of power and actually very lightly marks the powdercoat. You can't see it unless you hold it at the right angle, but it's annoying nonetheless. I think a piece of paper over the enclosure during preview will fix this, but it's another silly step.

Anyway, this little thing is still impressive to me despite the various shortcomings. And frankly, for my own personal builds, the output I'm getting is pretty well "good enough for DIY". I'd like a little bit more improvement, but it's close.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on May 31, 2017, 10:50:07 PM
And here's a "fiberboard" blank coaster.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: selfdestroyer on June 02, 2017, 09:37:32 AM
That really is impressive for the price.. Thanks for the update CJ
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: AntKnee on June 02, 2017, 06:16:10 PM
I am looking forward to seeing what the larger one can do. I'm tired of decals and ready to try this myself.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on June 09, 2017, 11:58:34 AM
Bigger unit arrived a couple days ago. I got it about 75% put together last night. Will probably finish up tonight.

Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: selfdestroyer on June 09, 2017, 12:31:16 PM
Awesome, I got money on standby for this if it works out well on enclosures. Thanks for the updates CJ.

Cody
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on June 11, 2017, 10:21:53 PM
Finally got this all put together. Mostly it went smooth. There are some good videos to show how to put it together, which really helps because there is literally no documentation whatsoever included with the kit. No software either, and no explanation of how to get the software. But I guess the guys who put this kit together assumed we would all Google for the answers.  ;D  I'll probably write up my suggestions/tips in case anyone else wants to follow me down this rabbit hole. I definitely did a few things different from the "official" assembly video.

About to do some quick testing. Real testing will be tomorrow.

Pics of "getting help" with assembly and the finished unit.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: drolo on June 12, 2017, 02:34:26 AM
It's not because it comes from china that you have to give in to child labor ... tsk tsk ..
Pretty curious to see the results of the tests :-)
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on June 12, 2017, 07:49:45 AM
It's not because it comes from china that you have to give in to child labor ... tsk tsk ..
Pretty curious to see the results of the tests :-)

Ha! Didn't even think of that.  ;D

I'm having some trouble with the software. I can't even get the firmware flashed to the controller board. I think the driver is culprit. Anyway, I found a forum for these exact brand of machines, so I'll get it sorted out...as usual, with the help of kind internet strangers with shared interests.  ;)

Another thing to note: the manufacturer included a nice hardware kit (nuts, bolts, spacers, etc). There is one extra of everything just in case. Well, except for one small nut size, which not only did them only give me 3 (instead of 4), one of the three has bad threads and can't be used. So I had to improvise a solution until I can get some replacements. So, they almost did great!
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: p_wats on June 13, 2017, 01:38:58 PM
Very interested in the progress here, as I was looking up similar machines last week.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on June 13, 2017, 08:09:49 PM
Finally got the firmware / driver / software sorted out. Nothing to show you guys yet, but I should have some sample work in the next couple days.

I will definitely write up a how-to on this. It's not intuitive at all. But, with some guidance, this would easily be a one-sitting project to assemble the kit and get the software configured and do a test burn.

I ended up going with software made by a fellow hobbyist. His program includes the driver installer and will flash the firmware. Three birds: one stone. The free version is limited (but definitely useable), and the full version is only $20.

More details to come!
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on July 09, 2017, 07:51:27 PM
Finally getting back to this...

Like most things, there is a learning curve to the technology and the setup that goes with it (software, artwork, properties of lasers, etc).

I know the power is good enough to etch through powdercoat, so I haven't actually done a test etch for that on this new machine yet. I'll get there later this week. I'm working on getting my fixturing right (or at least a good method for getting things nice and straight and aligned).

Right now I'm testing blue painter's tape as a paint mask. I've got an enclosure covered with the tape, and I'm using the laser to cut out the mask. Seems to be working so far, although I've yet to fully prep and paint. This would not be a good process for production, but for one-offs, it might be a cool way to paint bare enclosures and sort of make it look like silkscreen.

More to come, but if you're on the fence for a cheap laser that can etch powdercoat and mark/etch wood, this whole genre of machines are up to the task. I got an Eleksmaker A5 with 2.5W laser. There are all kinds of options. I can confirm that 1.5W is enough to cut through powdercoat (as shown on the first machine earlier in this thread).

New pics soon.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on July 09, 2017, 08:58:27 PM
Here's the first semi-successful test of the tape mask. The laser cuts through the actual tape just fine, but the glue on the tape backing kind of turns into sticky goo that needs acetone to remove. The pic below shows the goo cleaned up.

I think doing two passes might help destroy more of the glue. Or maybe cranking up the power (and/or slowing down the feed/speed).

Anyway, for certain types of art, this could be pretty cool. But I the fonts and art shapes/curves need to selected more carefully than other mediums.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on July 09, 2017, 11:17:55 PM
Low-watt lasers are pretty bad at cutting, generally speaking. You won't be cutting 1/4" plywood with any of the LED-based lasers (the super-cheap stuff). But you can cut cardstock, veneer, and very thin hobby plywood (balsa, etc).

Attached photo is a proper cut-through of 1/16" basswood that I got at Joanne Fabric recently. It feels similar to balsa, but I'm no tree/wood expert. It's thin and soft.

I think that it was pretty well done on the first pass, but I did two passes just to be sure.

Also note that the TRAINING POTTY in the lower left of the picture is a big part of what takes me so long to make updates to these threads :)
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: gordo on July 10, 2017, 07:07:21 AM
I'm THIS close to pulling the trigger on an A3.  With a larger footprint is there a disadvantage to an A3 vs and A5 (I was thinking that slop might lead to less accuracy)?  I think I'm going to hold off till I see how your lasered powder-coat turns out.  I'm hoping not to have to work it over with a pick too much to clear out debris.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: madbean on July 10, 2017, 07:27:56 AM
Here's the first semi-successful test of the tape mask. The laser cuts through the actual tape just fine, but the glue on the tape backing kind of turns into sticky goo that needs acetone to remove. The pic below shows the goo cleaned up.

I think doing two passes might help destroy more of the glue. Or maybe cranking up the power (and/or slowing down the feed/speed).

Anyway, for certain types of art, this could be pretty cool. But I the fonts and art shapes/curves need to selected more carefully than other mediums.

I wonder if using a large label might work better. Like a 4"x5" label with sticky back. That way you could cut out the stencil on the laser then just peel it off without having to worry about glue clean up.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on July 10, 2017, 08:21:31 AM
With a larger footprint is there a disadvantage to an A3 vs and A5 (I was thinking that slop might lead to less accuracy)?

I honestly don't know. I mainly chose the A5 because: 1) It's big enough to do any pedal enclosure size (except maybe a giant looper box), and 2) it fits on my workbench.

I believe there is going to be some level of cleanup regardless of laser power.  I've never used a big CO2 laser, but maybe Pickdropper can chime in on that. For not much more money you can get a Chinese "40w" CO2 self-enclosed machine that would be able to do a lot more. I didn't get one of those because right now I don't have a good place for it and I can't properly ventilate it.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on July 10, 2017, 08:25:52 AM
I wonder if using a large label might work better. Like a 4"x5" label with sticky back. That way you could cut out the stencil on the laser then just peel it off without having to worry about glue clean up.

That might work okay as well. But there's still glue on those stickers, and I see a lot of issues with glue on laser forums. It's one of the reasons standard thin plywood is so hard to cut. There is a special type of think ply that is made for laser cutting, and the difference is the type of glue used to hold the plies together.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: madbean on July 10, 2017, 08:44:04 AM
That might work okay as well. But there's still glue on those stickers, and I see a lot of issues with glue on laser forums. It's one of the reasons standard thin plywood is so hard to cut. There is a special type of think ply that is made for laser cutting, and the difference is the type of glue used to hold the plies together.

Ahh, yeah I guess you still have the glue on the surface you are using. Hmm, maybe carbon fiber wrap or some other vinyl wrap? A small dab of superglue would be enough to hold it in place for spray painting and easily removed. Or, possibly I have no idea what I am talking about.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: pickdropper on July 10, 2017, 02:48:17 PM
What about just cutting a stencil out of material that doesn't have glue on it?  You wouldn't have to worry as much about alignment while layering since you would ostensibly be aligning it on the enclosure by hand later.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on July 10, 2017, 03:00:58 PM
What about just cutting a stencil out of material that doesn't have glue on it?  You wouldn't have to worry as much about alignment while layering since you would ostensibly be aligning it on the enclosure by hand later.

I can do that with my little hobby plotter (cardstock). And also, you can't have regular fonts with "orhpan" elements not connected to the main part of the stencil. Same goes for art. But luckily there are some cool stencil fonts out there that look good and you don't even notice unless you look.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: pickdropper on July 10, 2017, 05:12:11 PM
What about just cutting a stencil out of material that doesn't have glue on it?  You wouldn't have to worry as much about alignment while layering since you would ostensibly be aligning it on the enclosure by hand later.

I can do that with my little hobby plotter (cardstock). And also, you can't have regular fonts with "orhpan" elements not connected to the main part of the stencil. Same goes for art. But luckily there are some cool stencil fonts out there that look good and you don't even notice unless you look.


Ah yes, can't forget about the orphans.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on July 10, 2017, 06:25:56 PM
Ah yes, can't forget about the orphans.

Hey, mentioned you earlier in the thread regarding post-etch cleanup.

How much and what kind of cleanup do you have to do after you etch a box on the 30W Epilog?
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on July 10, 2017, 08:20:15 PM
Another interesting update:

With the smaller/cheaper/weaker laser I have, I tried etching through rattle-can paint. Specifically: Duplicor auto touch-up paint, which has been my go-to paint for all my hand painted pedals. I couldn't get it to cut all the way through with 1.5W.

But it works great with the 2.5W laser at about 80% and 3 passes. Looks a lot like laser-etched powdercoat, in fact. Obviously this will be a lot cheaper than buying powdercoated boxes. And, if you goof up, you can sand it back and start over.

I have some slop/wobble/square issues to resolve (but it's almost dialed in), but when I get that sorted i'll show you guys some pics. Bottom line is that 2.5W appears to be adequate power for at least two types of finish etching, and it's well more than enough for cutting stencils. And you can do non-pedal stuff too, like egraving wood. With some good ventilation and air-assist, it can mark acrylic (or maybe even cut very thin acrylic).

More to come!
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: pickdropper on July 10, 2017, 11:02:51 PM
Ah yes, can't forget about the orphans.

Hey, mentioned you earlier in the thread regarding post-etch cleanup.

How much and what kind of cleanup do you have to do after you etch a box on the 30W Epilog?

It varies depending on the box.  For a lot of the transparent finishes, wiping them down with isopropanol and a soft cloth works fine.  For more difficult finishes (black is notorious for this), I have to get in there with a Q-Tip and Isopropanol (or Flux Remover) and a lot of Elbow Grease.  On some of those boxes, I've spent a good hour trying to clean up the sub-powder residue.

We just got a 50W laser at work that seems to be blow through everything (although I haven't tried a black enclosure yet).  In fact, I had to dial it back way more than 40% because it was burning back a bit too much.  But it does seem to leave less behind even on the lower settings.  So you might find things are a bit different with a lower power laser than on the 30W.  Or not.  I'll be curious to see how it goes.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: pickdropper on July 10, 2017, 11:05:02 PM
Another interesting update:

With the smaller/cheaper/weaker laser I have, I tried etching through rattle-can paint. Specifically: Duplicor auto touch-up paint, which has been my go-to paint for all my hand painted pedals. I couldn't get it to cut all the way through with 1.5W.

But it works great with the 2.5W laser at about 80% and 3 passes. Looks a lot like laser-etched powdercoat, in fact. Obviously this will be a lot cheaper than buying powdercoated boxes. And, if you goof up, you can sand it back and start over.

I have some slop/wobble/square issues to resolve (but it's almost dialed in), but when I get that sorted i'll show you guys some pics. Bottom line is that 2.5W appears to be adequate power for at least two types of finish etching, and it's well more than enough for cutting stencils. And you can do non-pedal stuff too, like egraving wood. With some good ventilation and air-assist, it can mark acrylic (or maybe even cut very thin acrylic).

More to come!

If you get it to etch the powdercoat enough so you don't need alcohol to clean it up, then that might be a nice solution, actually.  Being able to sand it off and respray is definitely nice.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on July 11, 2017, 10:28:28 AM
If you get it to etch the powdercoat enough so you don't need alcohol to clean it up, then that might be a nice solution, actually.  Being able to sand it off and respray is definitely nice.

The paint cleans up much easier than powdercoat (but I haven't tried full-blast 2.5W on powdercoat, so maybe that will make a difference). Just a little bit of work with a dental pick and it's bare metal shiny. Definitely a good option for those days when you *must* build a pedal *that day*.  ;D
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: madbean on July 11, 2017, 11:43:21 AM
We just got a 50W laser at work that seems to be blow through everything (although I haven't tried a black enclosure yet).  In fact, I had to dial it back way more than 40% because it was burning back a bit too much.

Yes, but can it heat a house full of popcorn from space?
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on July 11, 2017, 11:51:34 AM
We just got a 50W laser at work that seems to be blow through everything (although I haven't tried a black enclosure yet).  In fact, I had to dial it back way more than 40% because it was burning back a bit too much.

Yes, but can it heat a house full of popcorn from space?

You bring the laser, I'll bring the rod of dry ice we can use to trick the vending machines.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: pickdropper on July 11, 2017, 11:53:10 AM
We just got a 50W laser at work that seems to be blow through everything (although I haven't tried a black enclosure yet).  In fact, I had to dial it back way more than 40% because it was burning back a bit too much.

Yes, but can it heat a house full of popcorn from space?

Yes, but it's not trivial.  It'd take a real genius to set it until correctly.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: Val on July 23, 2017, 06:58:15 AM
Is it possible to have thin 0.5mm super sharp, clean cuts with a 2.5W cheap Chinese machine (let's say on paper, at least) without any burning marked outlines? Thanks!
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on July 23, 2017, 09:34:31 AM
Is it possible to have thin 0.5mm super sharp, clean cuts with a 2.5W cheap Chinese machine (let's say on paper, at least) without any burning marked outlines? Thanks!

The size of the beam is the same no matter what power level is used. I haven't noticed burn marks on powdercoat or paint at any power level.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: Val on July 23, 2017, 03:30:54 PM
I don't have the machine, that's why I'm asking. Which is the size of the beam? I've been watching demos on you tube and seemed that those small boxy NEJE low powered lasers were etching (I don't remember seeing any of them cutting) crispier lines than the 2.5W, but I might have had the wrong impression from the videos. Thanks!
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on July 23, 2017, 07:06:36 PM
Sorry, I misread. I thought you said, "0.5W" cuts, instead of 0.5mm.

I'm honestly not sure what the beam dimensions are. But, it's "pretty damn small". The 2.5W doesn't seem to be much, if any, bigger than the 1.5W NEJE I have.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: Val on July 24, 2017, 06:31:36 AM
Thanks! That's great.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: madbean on July 24, 2017, 11:14:47 AM
Head's up: the EleksMaker A5 Pro Forrest linked is 12% off until the 31st with the coupon code EleksMaker which comes out to just over $175 shipped.
https://www.banggood.com/2_5W-Desktop-DIY-Violet-Laser-Engraver-Engraving-Machine-Picture-CNC-Printer-Assembling-Kits-p-1001413.html?rmmds=category

I'm not saying I bought one, but I'm also not saying I didn't not buy one.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: pickdropper on July 24, 2017, 12:53:30 PM
Head's up: the EleksMaker A5 Pro Forrest linked is 12% off until the 31st with the coupon code EleksMaker which comes out to just over $175 shipped.
https://www.banggood.com/2_5W-Desktop-DIY-Violet-Laser-Engraver-Engraving-Machine-Picture-CNC-Printer-Assembling-Kits-p-1001413.html?rmmds=category

I'm not saying I bought one, but I'm also not saying I didn't not buy one.

Wait, are you not saying that you didn't not buy one, or that you didn't in fact not buy one?
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: madbean on July 24, 2017, 01:15:08 PM
It was at least one of these

(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/Truth_table_for_AND%2C_OR%2C_and_NOT.png)
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: pickdropper on July 24, 2017, 01:22:29 PM
It was at least one of these

(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/Truth_table_for_AND%2C_OR%2C_and_NOT.png)

This forum needs a like button.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: selfdestroyer on August 04, 2017, 04:58:44 PM
Head's up: the EleksMaker A5 Pro Forrest linked is 12% off until the 31st with the coupon code EleksMaker which comes out to just over $175 shipped.
https://www.banggood.com/2_5W-Desktop-DIY-Violet-Laser-Engraver-Engraving-Machine-Picture-CNC-Printer-Assembling-Kits-p-1001413.html?rmmds=category

I'm not saying I bought one, but I'm also not saying I didn't not buy one.

Just FYI, this coupon code still works. I just ordered one today.

Cody
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on August 04, 2017, 07:32:11 PM
You guys are going to lap me! I'm still (pausing) working on the calibration to get it just so. But to be fair, I had to stop and fix my 3D printer, which took a bit to figure out. Now I have it working again. Just designed and printed a vertical stand for my (Cody's) Roku 3 because it was overheating and locking up. Works great.

Also, I will be designing / printing at least one improvement piece for the Eleksmaker. I'll keep you guys in the loop. (it's the thingie that holds down the stepper motor belts to keep them at tension...the one that ships with it is less than ideal)
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: madbean on August 05, 2017, 09:49:45 AM
Transit time was 11 days (if I had bought one, I mean).
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: m-Kresol on August 06, 2017, 05:20:17 AM
damn, it's 47% off now. Very tempting with the free-shipping to Austria and all.

Just saying. I might just buy one.


edit: with the 47% off, it's 199.90 $, so more expensive than with 12% off (175$ according to Brian)??

edit 2: just saw that there is another 12% off coupon ("EleksMaker") which will give you the 175$.

Another thing: is Mac OS supported?
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: alanp on August 07, 2017, 11:10:44 PM
When the planets align, and I actually get some spare dosh, I think I'm going to get one of those cheap chinese 40W laser machines. Being able to cut perspex and stuff would be most useful.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: m-Kresol on August 12, 2017, 01:58:48 PM
I pulled the trigger after going back and forth all week and order the A3. It's bigger (bigger than necessary for enclosures), but only 17Ä more expensive. I would need to put it away from my desk anyways independent of size, so I thought why not take the bigger one.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on August 12, 2017, 02:51:16 PM
When the planets align, and I actually get some spare dosh, I think I'm going to get one of those cheap chinese 40W laser machines.

I was really tempted on those. My big issues is that I don't really have a place to set it up that has enough room for the exhaust fan piping and water pump bits and bobs (cooling).
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: madbean on August 13, 2017, 02:37:39 PM
This should help with assembly. Actually on their website as one giant pic which I broke down into pages that can be printed.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: Martan on August 13, 2017, 03:30:38 PM
I've had success cleaning up the powder coat remains with isopropanol, but recently etched a transparent finish from PPP and had to use acetone to get the crud out afterwards. Problem is that acetone will dull/remove some of the rest of the finish. Luckily, envirotex brought the shine back.

Another cool material for laser etching is Rowmark Lasermax plastic (http://www.rowmark.com/laser/LaserMAX/lasermax.asp (http://www.rowmark.com/laser/LaserMAX/lasermax.asp)). Its a thin layer of one color on top of a thicker bulk plastic of another. Great for making faceplates. Lots of color combos and I found them for ~$17 for a large sheet that could do maybe 20-30 faceplates. With the right laser you can etch and cut it out in one go. There's also software that can convert photos into engravable images like Phograv (pricey). I used photograv + rowmark lasermax + envirotex to make this for a Collasalus build (if I can just finish it :D):
(http://i67.tinypic.com/14av507.jpg)

Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: m-Kresol on August 14, 2017, 01:50:56 AM
wow that's an impressive laser etch. which laser did you use?
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: Martan on August 14, 2017, 05:51:07 AM
wow that's an impressive laser etch. which laser did you use?

We have a Boss Laser 1630 at work. From reading this thread, these hobby lasers should be able to do the etch (if not the cutting). The main difference seems to be the time it takes. The material is easily cut and drilled by hand, though.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: selfdestroyer on August 15, 2017, 09:54:41 AM
I have been traveling for work like a mad man all month... but I was hoping to come home to a laser last night.. its still stuck in China. I thought it was shipping out of the Canada warehouse, guess they ran out.

Cody
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: madbean on August 15, 2017, 06:54:30 PM
Glad I didn't buy one of these because it would have taken me almost 4 hours to put together including re-doing some work.

Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on August 15, 2017, 07:11:33 PM
Yeah, you got the laser module I was supposed to get. :/ 
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: Philthy on August 15, 2017, 10:47:14 PM
Glad I didn't buy one of these because it would have taken me almost 4 hours to put together including re-doing some work.

Please don't show us how this engraver, that you didn't buy, that would have taken you four hours to put toegoter, performs, as probably would not buy one too.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on August 16, 2017, 06:38:45 AM
Glad I didn't buy one of these because it would have taken me almost 4 hours to put together including re-doing some work.

You know the little pieces with the screws that hold the belts tight into the groove? The original design had these with a solid plastic tab that held the belt down and just the one larger screw to secure it to the frame (instead of a second small screw to to hold the belt down). A lot of the guys on the Benbox forum say the original piece is a better design, so somebody made a 3D model of it. I'm going to print some for myself, so if you want a set, let me know.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on August 16, 2017, 07:33:49 AM
Glad I didn't buy one of these because it would have taken me almost 4 hours to put together including re-doing some work.

Please don't show us how this engraver, that you didn't buy, that would have taken you four hours to put toegoter, performs, as probably would not buy one too.
-(-1)
I also wouldn't say I'm not uninterested in having none of these.  ;)
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: madbean on August 16, 2017, 10:10:47 AM
Ha ha, I fooled you guys. I totally bought one!

Anyway, I haven't fired it up yet but here are a couple of assembly tips:

- Follow the diagrams on the pdf I posted. They are pretty accurate.
- The diagrams list the screw lengths so follow those. It's easy to get the 10mm and 12mm confused so keep a ruler handy.
- Don't over-tighten the wheel attachments. The PVC offset spacers will crack if you do it too tight. Moderate turns...not cranked down.
- Before you screw the aluminum extrusions together, put 4 of the t-nuts in the back (two for the acrylic stands and two for the control panel) and two in front (for the front stands). Otherwise you will have to disassemble the frame to put them in (this is not on the assembly instructions).
- The belt guide that attaches to the steppers has two insert screws to tighten...not one!
- The button for my controller board has a round hole. The switch has a larger rectanguler protrusion. Maybe I am a moron but I don't know how that is supposed to work. I used an old game controller button with a spring instead.
- Strain relief on the cables is probably a good idea.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on August 16, 2017, 11:13:45 AM
A lot of the guys on the Benbox forum say the original piece is a better design, so somebody made a 3D model of it. I'm going to print some for myself, so if you want a set, let me know.
The thought actually crossed my mind to ask you to print me one, even though I haven't bought the kit yet.  That way, I could tell myself, "Well, I have to buy it now, or this part will go to waste."  ;D
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on August 17, 2017, 06:48:54 AM
I accidentally just bought one of these.  ;)
The EleksMaker coupon code is still good.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on August 17, 2017, 08:37:05 AM
Another cool material for laser etching is Rowmark Lasermax plastic (http://www.rowmark.com/laser/LaserMAX/lasermax.asp (http://www.rowmark.com/laser/LaserMAX/lasermax.asp)). Its a thin layer of one color on top of a thicker bulk plastic of another. Great for making faceplates. Lots of color combos and I found them for ~$17 for a large sheet that could do maybe 20-30 faceplates.
Where did you buy that stuff?  Are you sure you didn't mean $71? 
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: m-Kresol on August 17, 2017, 09:46:19 AM
since several people did now buy one (or not), does anyone but me plan on using it with a mac? Since all programs supplied by eleksmaker are windows only, I'm planing on using a general Gcode sender to operate the engraver. I'm new to this though, so any input is highly welcome.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on August 17, 2017, 10:01:18 AM
I plan to get it to work with Linux.  Haven't looked into how to do that yet though.  I imagine the solution would be similar for mac.  Will post whatever I figure out.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: madbean on August 17, 2017, 07:07:39 PM
I don't even plan on trying the manufacturer software with it. T2Laser seems to be the way to go...but I think it costs about $40 (I think support for XP is minimal and unfortunately the laptop I was going to use has XP). Maybe Linux would be worth a look.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on August 17, 2017, 07:56:27 PM
I could not get the OEM software to work with mine, but I also have an older controller board and firmware than yours, Brian.

I paid up for T2 because it has a ton of great features (including the right firmware you need and a built-in process to flash it) and also because the developer is on the BenBox forum and answers questions in like 30 seconds. :)
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: wgc on August 18, 2017, 05:54:57 AM
Fwiw There are at least a few Linux distros that are aimed at cnc. I haven't looked in a while, but most should be better than what ships as oem. I'd check for one that is USB drive based so you don't have partition any hard drives, etc.

Might also be worth swapping the controller pcb.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: Martan on August 22, 2017, 07:12:51 AM
Another cool material for laser etching is Rowmark Lasermax plastic (http://www.rowmark.com/laser/LaserMAX/lasermax.asp (http://www.rowmark.com/laser/LaserMAX/lasermax.asp)). Its a thin layer of one color on top of a thicker bulk plastic of another. Great for making faceplates. Lots of color combos and I found them for ~$17 for a large sheet that could do maybe 20-30 faceplates.
Where did you buy that stuff?  Are you sure you didn't mean $71?

Delvie's Plastics Inc. out of Salt Lake City. 12" x 24" sheets were all $17-19. Shipping was $14 to Louisville, KY for 6 sheets.
http://www.delviesplastics.com/p/Rowmark_Laser_Max.html (http://www.delviesplastics.com/p/Rowmark_Laser_Max.html)
http://www.delviesplastics.com/p/Rowmark_Laser_Max_Metals.html (http://www.delviesplastics.com/p/Rowmark_Laser_Max_Metals.html)

I haven't tried to etch the metal one yet.

Marty
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on August 22, 2017, 08:00:57 AM

Delvie's Plastics Inc. out of Salt Lake City. 12" x 24" sheets were all $17-19. Shipping was $14 to Louisville, KY for 6 sheets.
http://www.delviesplastics.com/p/Rowmark_Laser_Max.html (http://www.delviesplastics.com/p/Rowmark_Laser_Max.html)
http://www.delviesplastics.com/p/Rowmark_Laser_Max_Metals.html (http://www.delviesplastics.com/p/Rowmark_Laser_Max_Metals.html)

I haven't tried to etch the metal one yet.

Marty
Thanks!  I'll definitely check it out once I'm up and running.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on August 22, 2017, 08:04:26 AM
From my research so far, it's looking like a good Linux/OSX solution may be to flash grbl firmware onto the controller (I have no idea if that is possible/easy yet) and use laserweb4. 
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: pickdropper on August 22, 2017, 12:37:12 PM
Another cool material for laser etching is Rowmark Lasermax plastic (http://www.rowmark.com/laser/LaserMAX/lasermax.asp (http://www.rowmark.com/laser/LaserMAX/lasermax.asp)). Its a thin layer of one color on top of a thicker bulk plastic of another. Great for making faceplates. Lots of color combos and I found them for ~$17 for a large sheet that could do maybe 20-30 faceplates.
Where did you buy that stuff?  Are you sure you didn't mean $71?

Delvie's Plastics Inc. out of Salt Lake City. 12" x 24" sheets were all $17-19. Shipping was $14 to Louisville, KY for 6 sheets.
http://www.delviesplastics.com/p/Rowmark_Laser_Max.html (http://www.delviesplastics.com/p/Rowmark_Laser_Max.html)
http://www.delviesplastics.com/p/Rowmark_Laser_Max_Metals.html (http://www.delviesplastics.com/p/Rowmark_Laser_Max_Metals.html)

I haven't tried to etch the metal one yet.

Marty

Another vote for Delvie's.  I've bought a lot from them over the years.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: selfdestroyer on August 22, 2017, 01:51:54 PM
Got word today that mine is most likely permanently stuck in customs. They are going to ship out another one for me this week. But I guess, its not like I'm around to play it this week any way. Looking forward to what everyone does with this little beast.

Cody
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on August 22, 2017, 01:59:26 PM
Got word today that mine is most likely permanently stuck in customs. They are going to ship out another one for me this week. But I guess, its not like I'm around to play it this week any way. Looking forward to what everyone does with this little beast.

Cody
Did they say why it got stuck?
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: selfdestroyer on August 22, 2017, 02:24:28 PM
Got word today that mine is most likely permanently stuck in customs. They are going to ship out another one for me this week. But I guess, its not like I'm around to play it this week any way. Looking forward to what everyone does with this little beast.

Cody
Did they say why it got stuck?

No they said they would just send a second one and if the first shows up I either need to pay for it or send it back. I will most likely keep it if it ever comes and take it to work.

I ordered Aug 03 2017 it went to a shipping status on Aug 04 2017 and the USPS tracking number gives me this:
"Your item has been processed through a facility in SHANGHAI, CHINA at 1:12 pm on August 9, 2017." and no updates since.

Cody
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: timbo_93631 on August 22, 2017, 07:26:00 PM
Got word today that mine is most likely permanently stuck in customs. They are going to ship out another one for me this week. But I guess, its not like I'm around to play it this week any way. Looking forward to what everyone does with this little beast.

Cody
Did they say why it got stuck?

No they said they would just send a second one and if the first shows up I either need to pay for it or send it back. I will most likely keep it if it ever comes and take it to work.

I ordered Aug 03 2017 it went to a shipping status on Aug 04 2017 and the USPS tracking number gives me this:
"Your item has been processed through a facility in SHANGHAI, CHINA at 1:12 pm on August 9, 2017." and no updates since.

Cody

You could also mail it to Georgia!  I wonder if it would be strong enough to cut flatwork?
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on August 23, 2017, 04:48:50 AM
My kit has now reached the "processed through a facility in Shanghai" stage.  Fingers crossed.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: storyboardist on August 23, 2017, 09:06:16 AM
Got word today that mine is most likely permanently stuck in customs. They are going to ship out another one for me this week. But I guess, its not like I'm around to play it this week any way. Looking forward to what everyone does with this little beast.

Cody
Did they say why it got stuck?

No they said they would just send a second one and if the first shows up I either need to pay for it or send it back. I will most likely keep it if it ever comes and take it to work.

I ordered Aug 03 2017 it went to a shipping status on Aug 04 2017 and the USPS tracking number gives me this:
"Your item has been processed through a facility in SHANGHAI, CHINA at 1:12 pm on August 9, 2017." and no updates since.

Cody

You could also mail it to Georgia!  I wonder if it would be strong enough to cut flatwork?

+1! But a different part of GA.  ::) ;D lol
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: selfdestroyer on August 24, 2017, 09:19:59 AM
You GA people got jokes I see.. haha
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: storyboardist on August 25, 2017, 07:58:55 AM
You GA people got jokes I see.. haha

(https://cdn.meme.am/instances/500x/59432047/pssst-i-got-jokes-for-days.jpg)
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on August 25, 2017, 08:50:58 PM
Finally got a bit of time freed to to muck with the tension on the X axis (or whichever one is the one that moves the laser head left/right). I think I have it pretty well sorted out. Did some test carves on wood and cardboard, and all seems to be at least nominally lined up on an X vs Y basis.

Now there are a few more tasks in front of me to get enclosure etching going good:

1) Figure out the right resolution for the artwork.
2) Figure out the right power and speed for good etching of powdercoat and paint
3) Devise some sort of fixturing bracket so I can get things aligned to print straight (will be using 3D printer for this).

I think I might start with #3 since I just got my printer all spruced back up (new nozzle and hot break). The plan is to make two brackets that fit snug into the side of the v-rails so that I can butt the enclosure up against it to get something approaching a straight line (and then I can light the laser head up in the bottom left corner of the enclosure and set that as the origin). We'll see how that goes, haha.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on August 27, 2017, 06:54:46 AM
Did some more experimenting. We gettin' there. Seems like three passes at 100% power and 900mm/min works pretty good, at least on Hammond-brand powdercoat. It seems to be the toughest of the ones I've tried.

Got a crude alignment tool in the works as well.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on August 27, 2017, 01:22:22 PM
Do each of those logos represent different settings?
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on August 27, 2017, 04:34:50 PM
Do each of those logos represent different settings?

More or less. But keep in mind that some post-laser cleanup work is required no matter the settings. There is layer of fine charred powdercoat that has to be manually removed. I use a cheap dental pick and some 90% isopropyl.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on August 27, 2017, 07:18:14 PM
Here's a pic of the first iteration of my crude alignment "jig" (which isn't the right word).

As you can tell after looking at the pic, the bit on the right is in the way of the bearings on the right v-rail. So basically, I'll have to set the position with the guide in place, and then carefully lift up off the rail before starting the etch run (or even setting the origin, since this one doesn't have limit switches).

The bottom bit is actually v1 of the right bit, but it *almost* works on that bottom rail. I'll need to modify it a bit to sit snug *in* the V part of the rail, as there's no room for it to snug over the whole thing since that front plexi plate is in the way.

Current 3D model is here: https://www.tinkercad.com/things/deLozQR0t2F-alignment-bracket-draft

I'm SURE there is a better way to do what I'm trying to do, but I can't see it yet. Not the way this thing is set up. But I'm also sure I'll hit on a better way (or maybe somebody else will figure it out). Gotta start small. :)

Interesting note:
ē The whole laser frame/assembly *can* move a small amount during an etch job. Need to figure out how to secure this. Might be a rubber mat under does the trick. For now, I'm going to go the cheap route and clamp it to the bench.

Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: madbean on August 28, 2017, 05:55:40 AM
That's really cool!

I saw a video of T2Laser which shows you how to burn an alignment grid into a piece of scrap...not sure if that might be useful. I was thinking I might try doing some cardboard cutouts....like tape down cardboard, cut out the enclosure outline, remove the waste then place the enclosure inside the hole.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on August 28, 2017, 07:48:10 AM
That's really cool!

I saw a video of T2Laser which shows you how to burn an alignment grid into a piece of scrap...not sure if that might be useful. I was thinking I might try doing some cardboard cutouts....like tape down cardboard, cut out the enclosure outline, remove the waste then place the enclosure inside the hole.

I've seen grids and the cutouts. The problem is how do you get either of those reliably aligned to the machine's frame? I guess that's where I'm having a mental disconnect. Without physical connection, any sort of grid or cutout can so easily be moved and you not even notice it. I'm probably overthinking this.

Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: wgc on August 28, 2017, 10:20:24 AM
I went through this a while back on the big laser I used to have access to and made acrylic locating jigs, cut on the laser.

You can't cut acrylic on this but cardboard should work.

I'd build a little tray that fits relatively snug to the perimeter of the frame/base.
Using the cardboard cutout idea, you could cut out interchangeable pieces that fit your tray for different enclosures.

Alternatively you could put in offsets and place your cutouts and program your etches  accordingly, maybe even fit them all on one sheet.

So cool to see these working, wish I'd had the time and money to try them.

Interested to see how they do with filled vectors/raster etching.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: selfdestroyer on August 28, 2017, 06:56:37 PM
I went through this a while back on the big laser I used to have access to and made acrylic locating jigs, cut on the laser.

You can't cut acrylic on this but cardboard should work.

I'd build a little tray that fits relatively snug to the perimeter of the frame/base.
Using the cardboard cutout idea, you could cut out interchangeable pieces that fit your tray for different enclosures.

Alternatively you could put in offsets and place your cutouts and program your etches  accordingly, maybe even fit them all on one sheet.

So cool to see these working, wish I'd had the time and money to try them.

Interested to see how they do with filled vectors/raster etching.

This was my idea also. Like an insert that fits in the frame/base. I see some of these A5 with workspace boards on them and I figured if we had some of these and made hole for 1290A,B,BB,125B etch then you just need to tell the software the coordinates of each template hole. Not sure if this makes sense or not as I and visualising it in my head. Which can be dangerous.

On a side note, my replacement A5 was shipped and finally got picked up by post. I hope it gets here soon.

CJ, your getting some great results on the powder coating, can't wait to play around with this. Thanks for taking the time to post your findings.

Cody
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on August 28, 2017, 07:39:36 PM
Seems like my redneck alignment bracket is at least mostly function. Got an enclosure on there now for science. I went with another try at painter's tape as a mask to cut out from. This method might end up being really interesting, as I can think of a couple different ways it could be used for certain looks/finishes.

More to come.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on August 28, 2017, 07:59:18 PM
My laser left Shanghai 3 days ago.  If it is going to get stuck in Customs, I think it would happen around now.  Fingers still crossed.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on August 28, 2017, 09:02:12 PM
Two passes on this. One pass just didn't seem to clear out as much of the tape as I wanted. I will try a different setting to see if I can get 'er done in one pass to avoid possible movement of the enclosure or laser frame between pass 1 and 2.

It's not perfect, but I'm happy with the result.

Instead of clearing out the burned glue, I decide to shoot some rattle can right over it to see what happens. Will post pics of that as soon as I see the damage.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on August 28, 2017, 10:16:03 PM
Okay, so that's a total fail.  ;D

Turns out, there is still a bit of a connection between the burned out glue and the adjacent tape. So for use as a mask, at least the outer edges of the glue needs to be scraped off for it to work. This means fine text will likely be problematic. But larger text and graphics without fine detail should be okay.

More tests to follow.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: wgc on August 29, 2017, 09:47:15 AM
snip... I figured if we had some of these and made hole for 1290A,B,BB,125B etch then you just need to tell the software the coordinates of each template hole. Not sure if this makes sense or not as I and visualising it in my head. Which can be dangerous.


That is exactly what I meant when referring to "offsets" - not sure if the software supports it or makes it intuitive though.  But, failing software support, you should be able to set your zero manually for each cutout and probably be close enough.  I like your thinking, dangerous or not.

I tried that masking tape thing too with similar results.  Unfortunately, you are basically hardening the glue instead of burning it off.  And you can burn it off, but my experience was the tape caught on fire at the higher power/slower feed settings.  Which is all kinds of fun in itself but best avoided imho. 

One thing I didn't try, but intended to, was "masking frisket paper" which is used in airbrushing and typically has a lower tack strength.  It might be worth sticking it to a piece of something flat like glass, etch it, and then trying to use it as a reusable spray paint mask on an enclosure.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on August 29, 2017, 10:34:31 AM
I tried that masking tape thing too with similar results.  Unfortunately, you are basically hardening the glue instead of burning it off.  And you can burn it off, but my experience was the tape caught on fire at the higher power/slower feed settings.  Which is all kinds of fun in itself but best avoided imho.

It's actually not hard to remove the remaining glue, it's just time consuming and you run the risk of ruining part of the mask if you're not careful. Won't work for fine detail, but larger non-complicated graphics should be pretty easy. I'll try again with a more amenable design and see how it works.   
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: pickdropper on August 29, 2017, 10:48:01 AM
One small suggestion: when you align your artwork, align to the center of the enclosure, not to the edge.  I used to align top-left and I was always fighting alignment issues.  I made a small acrylic fixture that holds the enclosure by the screwholes and the artwork is centered on the enclosure.

The boxes aren't exactly precision made, nor is the powder coat, so the outer dimensions can vary a bit.  Center-fixturing helps reduce potential error.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on August 29, 2017, 11:02:57 AM
One small suggestion: when you align your artwork, align to the center of the enclosure, not to the edge.  I used to align top-left and I was always fighting alignment issues.  I made a small acrylic fixture that holds the enclosure by the screwholes and the artwork is centered on the enclosure.

The boxes aren't exactly precision made, nor is the powder coat, so the outer dimensions can vary a bit.  Center-fixturing helps reduce potential error.

I'll need some of your help getting that sorted out.

This thing does a "trace the frame" movement so you can see the edges of the artwork. I've been using "bottom left" as the homing point since I can visualize that easier than the center. I'm never really sure I'm in the true center, but I know for a fact if I've got the bottom left corner lined up.

But I'm more than willing to learn a new/better way to set this stuff up.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on August 29, 2017, 06:57:32 PM
Alright boys, here's the pudding.

I ran a powdercoated box (from BLMS) late last night. Did two passes at 100% power (full chooch!) at 900mm/min speed. I think this is 95% there.

Switching to imgur for hosting so I can notate things in-line in the post.

Okay, so here's the box right off the laser, no cleanup at all. There is powder ash all over. Stinks like hell, too. Damn this stuff is nasty.

(http://i.imgur.com/gMTfCWG.jpg)


And just below we have after cleaning. For this, I was able to get it looking like this with just 90% isopropyl and a toothbrush. There is still the thinest micro-layer of crust, but it won't come off without scraping. And frankly, I think it looks pretty cool. Sort of gives the metal a "relic" look. But you could, if some motivated, get 'er down the bare metal with a little more elbow grease and a dental pick.

Note: I did not clean the drill art at all, and next design will not have such elaborate markings (takes too damn long to etch and is unnecessary)

(http://i.imgur.com/nuHu2F8.jpg)

The text on "Time 1" really kind of lost resolution, and I think part of this has to do with the slope of the enclosure near the edges. Same thing for the left part of the main circle graphic. Changes in distance from the laser to the cutting surface changes the focus/sharpness of the beam, and that can throw off fine detail. Part of it also probably came from micro-movements in the laser frame over the course of two full passes (I'll get the frame locked down to my bench soon, and this should no longer be an issue).

Also, the drill art circles came out all kinds of not-round. Again, a big part of this is enclosure concavity, and some has to do with frame walk during multiple passes. And still more, sometimes you lose a bit of finish when cleaning, which also make circles look not that great.

Yeah, so it's not perfect by any stretch, but I'm damn well impressed with what a cheap-ass laser can do. With a few more refinements, I think this will be a nice options for finishing on a one-off or short run basis. Need to get some more fixturing improvements (in the works!) and then we'll be in business.

Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on August 29, 2017, 07:08:25 PM
Forgot to mention: I suspect a third pass might make the final product even closer to metal. But I need to reduce the overall system slop before attempting 3 passes, as there are definitely some issues with precise repeatability of the cutting path from pass to pass. I'm going to adjust some of the firmware parameters to slow down the stepper motor transitions (start > stop and vice versa) and that will help. I'm also going to print some soft feet for the frame using NinjaFlex filament (which will also dampen vibration and reduce frame "walk").

FYI, I'm using a 2.5W diode laser head. I have gotten similar results with a 1.5W laser, but it took 3 passes to do what this one does in 2. Less passes is always better, assuming similar quality.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on August 30, 2017, 04:06:32 PM
I'm wondering what a laser etch followed by a rub down with ferric chloride would do.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: m-Kresol on August 31, 2017, 10:20:43 AM
thanks for your efforts and reports on the progress CJ. I'm still waiting on mine, should be here soon!

I'm wondering what a laser etch followed by a rub down with ferric chloride would do.

the powdercoat is inert against the FeCl3, so you would increase the depth of the etch or stain the metallic parts on short expure times. However, getting the gunk out of the etched parts without ruining the powdercoat and also preserving the powdercoat's colour will be hard.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: storyboardist on September 01, 2017, 11:55:57 AM
Wow! That looks really good.


...I gotta stop looking at this thread or I'm gonna blow money I don't need to on one of these. lol
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on September 01, 2017, 12:42:57 PM
...I gotta stop looking at this thread or I'm gonna blow money I don't need to on one of these. lol
So true.  I wasn't going to buy one either.  Now, there is one in the mail almost at my door.   ;D
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: jubal81 on September 02, 2017, 05:54:27 PM
Makerspace here has a 12-50 watt Rayjet. Any general tips on power, speed or passes for cutting through powdercoat with it?
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: wgc on September 03, 2017, 09:16:25 AM
Nice! Get a scrap enclosure and then make a file where you can test different settings all in one or two setups. Usually you can assign settings to a color in your file. So mark 1 is blue, and you make the settings for blue 20p,50s, next mark is green, 30p, 50s, etc.

Sometimes makerspaces have a sheet where people can post their settings for different materials. Might save you some time. If they don't have that, it can buy you some cred  to set one up. ;)

Fwiw the laser I used to use was similar specs and pretty much 50-60% speed and 30-40% power was about right in most cases. I generally err on the conservative side and run multiple passes if in doubt.

Definitely try some acrylic etching and cutting.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: pickdropper on September 03, 2017, 10:45:37 AM
Nice! Get a scrap enclosure and then make a file where you can test different settings all in one or two setups. Usually you can assign settings to a color in your file. So mark 1 is blue, and you make the settings for blue 20p,50s, next mark is green, 30p, 50s, etc.

Sometimes makerspaces have a sheet where people can post their settings for different materials. Might save you some time. If they don't have that, it can buy you some cred  to set one up. ;)

Fwiw the laser I used to use was similar specs and pretty much 50-60% speed and 30-40% power was about right in most cases. I generally err on the conservative side and run multiple passes if in doubt.

Definitely try some acrylic etching and cutting.

So much this.  We got a new 50W Epilog at work and I'm messing with optimal settings and the only difference (other than bed size) is the old machine is 30W and this is 50W.

Also, it matters who does the powder coating.  I goes some cheap Tayda enclosures to experiment on and they etch different than the expensive PPP enclosures.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on September 05, 2017, 08:55:07 AM
Also, it matters who does the powder coating.  I goes some cheap Tayda enclosures to experiment on and they etch different than the expensive PPP enclosures.

Different good? Bad? Just different? 

Asking for a friend.  ;D
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: Martan on September 05, 2017, 09:16:18 AM
Makerspace here has a 12-50 watt Rayjet. Any general tips on power, speed or passes for cutting through powdercoat with it?

Don't know what kind of files your laser cutter will accept, but here's a link to a test file that I think is in .rl format. https://www.bosslaser.com/laser-test-files (https://www.bosslaser.com/laser-test-files)

There's one for engraving and one for cutting. Works great if you can load it. I always use the bottom plate of the enclosure to test the power, etc. I figure I won't see it much🙂
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: pickdropper on September 05, 2017, 09:57:11 AM
Also, it matters who does the powder coating.  I goes some cheap Tayda enclosures to experiment on and they etch different than the expensive PPP enclosures.

Different good? Bad? Just different? 

Asking for a friend.  ;D

Not as clean as the PPP enclosure for whatever reason.  Definitely serviceable, though. 

What is weird is that the black and white enclosures have all sorts of weird finish problems (uneven, strange shiny spots, etc...) and the other colors have relatively even finishing to them.  They are packaged differently, so I suspect they might get them from different vendors.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on September 06, 2017, 12:54:58 PM
My laser engraver arrived today (sort of).  I wasn't home to sign for it, so the post office kept it for now.  :'(

It's 20 days from my order date, by the way.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: m-Kresol on September 07, 2017, 02:14:14 PM
Got my A3 on Monday. I'm glad I bought the bigger version, it's not that big and I'll be able to engrave other things than pedals too. With Brian's add-on comments to the assembly instruction, it went together rather smooth. had 2 bad threads, but enough spare parts were supplied. A small tipp: put the pins of the Y-axis stepper motors facing down or forwards. I switched those around at least 3 times (including taking apart some assembled bits and pieces)

tried to get it operational on mac yesterday

Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on September 08, 2017, 08:25:15 AM
Picked up my engraver at the post office this morning.  For some reason, I expected the box to be smaller.  ::)
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: selfdestroyer on September 08, 2017, 11:14:36 AM
Finally got my 2nd one (first one is still in China Customs) yesterday.

I was doing a bunch of phone meetings yesterday so I was able to build it on my desk at work.. got all kinds of looks from people. haha

I used the EleksCAM software that it suggested just to get it setup and test it. I may move over to BenBox.

Funny thing, When I hooked  up the laser to my laptop I forgot to shut it off first and now I see why they tell you to. During the USB discovery, it will turn on the laser for a split second. Thankfully I had a piece of wood under it and it burned it and not my bench. haha

I'm traveling next week so I will not get to play with it much other than this weekend. Time to have some fun.

Cody
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on September 09, 2017, 07:00:50 AM
So, is this a part (for making plastic feet, maybe?)? Or, is it just packing material?  ???
(http://i.imgur.com/0VL4kJxm.jpg)

All the extra parts (and the fact that some look very different from the drawings) make me nervous.   ;D
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: m-Kresol on September 09, 2017, 10:02:46 AM
these parts go into the sides of the aluminium parts to hold in the cables for the y axis steppers
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on September 09, 2017, 10:55:28 AM
Cool.  Thanks!
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on September 09, 2017, 10:58:25 AM
- The button for my controller board has a round hole. The switch has a larger rectanguler protrusion. Maybe I am a moron but I don't know how that is supposed to work. I used an old game controller button with a spring instead.
Mine came with a small round chromed plastic push on cap for the switch.  Fits right in the round hole.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on September 09, 2017, 03:09:15 PM
these parts go into the sides of the aluminium parts to hold in the cables for the y axis steppers
Hmm....  Now that I've had more time to consider this, I realize that I don't understand what is the best way to install these.  Could you post a pic or two?

I see it now.

 (https://des.gbtcdn.com/uploads/pdm-desc-pic/Electronic/image/2016/12/16/1481877835494890.jpg)

Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on September 09, 2017, 03:40:17 PM
Glad to see you guys are putting yours together!

I did another experiment, this time with rattle-can paint. Worked pretty good. And actually, I might work on doing low-power one-pass burning of the paint, since it turns a nice black color as seen in the first pic. But cutting down to the metal was pretty easy (two passes at 90% power) and cleaned up very easily -- just a toothbrush and some water. Doing it under a faucet with running water is the fastest way.

I did three coats of automotive touch-up paint (Duplicolor brand) and let the last coat dry for 48 hours. The color I chose is not good for contrast against the color of the box (I call it "Grandma's Mercury Sable Champagne"), so the end result is kind of bland. But it looks great after one pass with the black soot in there. I might try that again and stop with one pass and then just clearcoat the whole thing.

Still got a few issues to work out with the x/y not being perfectly parallel, but I think I have it narrowed down.

I'm also looking at adding limit switches so I can actually "home" this thing and make locating/alignment a lot easier. The T2 Laser software supports homing if you have the switches installed. More to come!
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on September 09, 2017, 04:38:21 PM
Think these etches might be deep enough to squeegee some silk screen ink into?  Just another thought I had.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on September 09, 2017, 05:13:09 PM
Think these etches might be deep enough to squeegee some silk screen ink into?  Just another thought I had.

For the thicker powdercoat, I would definitely think so. I'm not sure about the paint, but you could always do more coats to thicken it up. Paint is cheap.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: wgc on September 09, 2017, 06:34:00 PM
black acrylic paint works great as a backfill for those times you want more contrast. Wipe it on, let it haze over, and wipe off the excess. 
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on September 09, 2017, 06:58:13 PM
black acrylic paint works great as a backfill for those times you want more contrast. Wipe it on, let it haze over, and wipe off the excess.

You mean the stuff in the little plastic bottles?  I'll have to try that.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: pickdropper on September 09, 2017, 08:22:38 PM
black acrylic paint works great as a backfill for those times you want more contrast. Wipe it on, let it haze over, and wipe off the excess.

You mean the stuff in the little plastic bottles?  I'll have to try that.

That's what I used for the Reverse Centaur build.  The only issue I have is that the etch is so shallow that wiping it away with alcohol often pulls it out of the fill as well.  I did the Rev Centaur under a microscope with a syringe full of acrylic paint and a 30 gauge gluing tip.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: wgc on September 10, 2017, 06:52:47 AM
Lol, a syringe is hardcore. I'd probably try a fine brush in that event.  Btw great build, crazy graphic!

Big etched areas are harder to cover without wiping some of the paint out again.

There's a sweet spot in terms of letting it dry to where its tacky enough to stay put where you want it, but you can still get the excess off with a damp cloth.

I wipe it on a bit thick, get all the fill covered. Next I squeegee off most of it with a piece of thin cardboard, using the flat edge to preserve the low spots. Then I use a damp paper towel to clean up areas I know I don't want paint on, but without disturbing the fill. Then wait for a haze- like waxing a car. Finally I use a damp cloth to wipe off anything I don't want. A slightly wet q-tip can help in some areas. You might have to do a little touch up here and there. It's maybe 10 min altogether.

If your paint/powder is very thin, you could try a brush or syringe to do the application and maybe minimize the amount of clean up wiping. Definitely easier when the etch is deeper and is not very wide.

Btw I use the nicer artist grade stuff in the tubes (has more/finer pigment), but the cheap stuff should work too. Some colors may behave a little differently but black works great. I haven't tried alcohol to clean up acrylic, will give it a shot though intuitively I feel it might be harder to control.

I used colored pencil on one build (fuzz u) which worked well because the lines were thin but deep, but I think success may vary a lot more than paint.

I may try crayons sometime too, maybe heating things up a little once the excess is cleaned off.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on September 10, 2017, 07:08:31 AM
Maybe a damp paper towel wrapped over something rigid like a credit card would do a better job wiping up while leaving the fill.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on September 10, 2017, 08:02:01 AM
Building this thing made me think of this:
https://youtu.be/qtKtU_zcTGU (couldn't get the link to embed the vid...)
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: m-Kresol on September 10, 2017, 11:20:32 AM
still fighting with this thing to turn on the laser with input commands M03 and M04...
I know the PWM pin is D11 (which is also connected to the yellow wire going to the laser), but I get 0.1 mV on that pin no matter which setting I try. I didn't enable the "USE_SPINDLE_DIRECTION_AS_SPINDLE_ENABLE" command, so enable and PWM should both be on D11. Using M03 (CW) and M04 (CCW) commands switch Pin D13 high (4.7V) and Low (0V), so that works fine.

Upon connecting my Mac to the arduino the laser shortly comes to live, which I can read via a multimeter: pin D11 goes up to about 6.4 mV.

Any ideas where to look? I know next to nothing about programming and am just randomly looking for things that look like it might fit. Unfortunately, I can't have a look at the manaSE firmware as it's supplied in a compiled .hex file instead of discrete files written in C (which is what I have for GRBL v1.1f)

Another thing: anyone knows the steps/mm for $100, $101 and $102?

input is very much appreciated. Thanks!
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on September 10, 2017, 12:10:20 PM
Felix, hopefully, I'll catch up to you soon and we can work out all the difficulties.  I know that somewhere in either the GRBL or Laserweb docs, I saw a link to a page to calculate steps/mm....
Tonight, I'll hopefully have a chance to get my machine to talk to the controller and be able to flash GRBL.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on September 15, 2017, 09:31:12 PM
The other night, Bean says to me, "I wonder if you could etch knobs?" Never thought about that, but I had to give it a try. Works okay. Probably not something for mass production, but for a one-off it would be doable.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on September 19, 2017, 10:19:35 PM
Got some new Triton boards in the mail today (I sold all the old stock and didn't even have one to do a test build!).

Looks like the scaling on the artwork is correct, but I did forget to make drill marks for the Time1 and Time2 LEDs. It's an easy fix, but I'll get that fixed and try another one (for science).
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: m-Kresol on September 20, 2017, 01:34:11 PM
I finally got it working!

So, I tried several things, but nothing was doing the trick: D11 (engaging and PWM pin for the laser) was always low, but I could toggle it on and off with a simple line of code. Thus, I knew that there was only a software bug hidden somewhere in the grbl code.

Zax (the guy that developed T2Laser) indirectly led me to the solution. He mentioned that I should use M03 command to turn the laser on and S... to adjust the power. In grbl it's up to 255 and in the elekslaser firmware up to 1000. So, I thought I should give the elekslaser firmware another go (when I tried it, I wasn't aware of the M03 command). After flashing the arduino and typing M 0 3 S 1 0 0 0 very slowly for rising tension, the laser came to life. Oh, what bliss!  Now I just hope my fire alarm doesn't go off ;)

So the trick is to use the elekslaser firmware (basically an altered version of grbl 0.9i. I was trying to use 1.1f since it has a specific laser mode) and then you can use the universal gcode sender. if anyone on mac/linux is wondering. the code to flash the .hex to the arduino is:

Code: [Select]
/Applications/Arduino.app/Contents/Java/hardware/tools/avr/bin/avrdude -C/Applications/Arduino.app/Contents/Java/hardware/tools/avr/etc/avrdude.conf -v -patmega328p -carduino -P/dev/cu.wchusbserial1410 -b57600 -D -Uflash:w:/Applications/ManaSE_v3.7.hex:i

MAKE SURE TO ADJUST THE FILE PATHS!

Another thing, which is already included in the ManaSE firmware: the steps/mm for x and y axis is 80!

Now I just need to find a good way to generate gcode from png picture files. I usually use gimp to design my graphics. there are plugins for inkscape, but the one I used for trials only does outline, but I need full area too. any recommendations?
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: EBK on September 20, 2017, 02:18:57 PM
I finally got it working!
Congrats!  Mine is fully assembled, but the X axis seems a bit tight on the rails, and there is a very slight detent near mid-rail, which I haven't found the cause of.  Haven't worked on the firmware yet.

Quote
if anyone on mac/linux is wondering. the code to flash the .hex to the arduino is:

Code: [Select]
/Applications/Arduino.app/Contents/Java/hardware/tools/avr/bin/avrdude -C/Applications/Arduino.app/Contents/Java/hardware/tools/avr/etc/avrdude.conf -v -patmega328p -carduino -P/dev/cu.wchusbserial1410 -b57600 -D -Uflash:w:/Applications/ManaSE_v3.7.hex:i

MAKE SURE TO ADJUST THE FILE PATHS!
Thanks for this!
Quote
Another thing, which is already included in the ManaSE firmware: the steps/mm for x and y axis is 80!
and this!
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: m-Kresol on September 20, 2017, 10:27:27 PM
My X axis also didn't move too smoothly at the beginning. I just loosened the screws that hold the two acrylic parts and the wheels together and it works smoothly now.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: m-Kresol on September 27, 2017, 10:55:55 AM
Any updates on your 3D printed add-ons and improvements, CJ? A friend has offered to print some stuff for me (and is also looking for a way to procrastinate writing his PhD thesis)
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on September 27, 2017, 02:10:26 PM
Any updates on your 3D printed add-ons and improvements, CJ? A friend has offered to print some stuff for me (and is also looking for a way to procrastinate writing his PhD thesis)

Not really. Haven't had time to work on that side of things for a while.

I did improve things by adding a rubber mat under the frame "legs". This stops (or at least greatly reduces) lateral movement of the entire machine when the laser head changes direction quickly.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: selfdestroyer on September 27, 2017, 02:47:47 PM
I did improve things by adding a rubber mat under the frame "legs". This stops (or at least greatly reduces) lateral movement of the entire machine when the laser head changes direction quickly.

I did that also. It was slowly being moved on my work bench so I used some non-slip mat under the acrylic legs.

I am having a heck of a time to get this to consistently finding my "center" point. Need to play with it some more this weekend before I have to travel for work again.

Cody
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: m-Kresol on October 28, 2017, 11:50:34 AM
Here's an update from my side: I opted out and installed Windows via bootcamp on my mac. Not as bad as I thought. T2Laser is a great software and can basically transfer any image to gcode, which is the feature I was missing. Also, it now includes a german translation I provided 8)

I upgraded the laser with a few 3D printed parts, namely belt tensioner, X axis tensioner and space holders found on thingiverse (will add the links later). Belt tensior is kind of a must. My squares were not so square in the beginning and the 1590a engraving seen below has bit of a wobble to it.
The biggest upgrade is the wooden baseplate a coworker did for/with me. He's got skills and tools to do it properly too. The laser is screwed to the baseplate and the enclosure is screwed to it too. So no shifting due to vibrations or anything. I just set the laser to the centre spot and home the machine, screw down the enclosure and start engraving.

(http://felix.kalium.org/upload/pictures/Pedals/Laser/Laser1_small.jpg) (http://felix.kalium.org/upload/pictures/Pedals/Laser/Laser1_big.jpg)

(http://felix.kalium.org/upload/pictures/Pedals/Laser/Laser2_small.jpg) (http://felix.kalium.org/upload/pictures/Pedals/Laser/Laser2_big.jpg)

(http://felix.kalium.org/upload/pictures/Pedals/Laser/Laser3_small.jpg) (http://felix.kalium.org/upload/pictures/Pedals/Laser/Laser3_big.jpg)

(http://felix.kalium.org/upload/pictures/Pedals/Laser/Laser4_small.jpg) (http://felix.kalium.org/upload/pictures/Pedals/Laser/Laser4_big.jpg)

(http://felix.kalium.org/upload/pictures/Pedals/Laser/Laser5_small.jpg) (http://felix.kalium.org/upload/pictures/Pedals/Laser/Laser5_big.jpg)

After one pass with full power and 900 mm/min (as suggested by CJ) you can scratch off the residue, but it doesn't work as well as after two passes. However, I found that the details is not too good, likely due to intensive heating around the laser spot. I used 0.05 mm resultion (maximum), so that might also be not ideal. I'll try three or four passes with half power tomorrow and see what I get.

After 1 pass with surface cleaning:
(http://felix.kalium.org/upload/pictures/Pedals/Laser/Laser6_small.jpg) (http://felix.kalium.org/upload/pictures/Pedals/Laser/Laser6_big.jpg)

one pass with tooth pick action.
(http://felix.kalium.org/upload/pictures/Pedals/Laser/Laser7_small.jpg) (http://felix.kalium.org/upload/pictures/Pedals/Laser/Laser7_big.jpg)

two passes, properly cleaned:
(http://felix.kalium.org/upload/pictures/Pedals/Laser/Laser8_small.jpg) (http://felix.kalium.org/upload/pictures/Pedals/Laser/Laser8_big.jpg)
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: pickdropper on October 28, 2017, 11:54:52 AM
Blurriness can happen because of run to run variation or because the power is set too high (or speed too low).  I would play with the power/speed first and see if it looks in focus after one run.  Try to check without removing it from the bed.  If it still looks in focus, then I would run it one or two more times and see how it turns out.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on October 28, 2017, 02:09:59 PM
Wow, those are some nice upgrades.  :o
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: trotel on October 28, 2017, 03:46:10 PM
Following this thread has been really interesting.  Though it looks like quite a challenge, Iím pretty close to heading down the rabbit hole with the rest of you.

@pickdropper and @m-Kresol:   The alignment baseplate jig looks like an important add-on.

pickdropper- how did you make your acrylic alignment plate? 

m-Kresol- how was your wooden baseplate made?  Looks like the board was cut with a router bit to create space for the laser head?  How does the laser connect to the baseplate?
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: trotel on October 28, 2017, 03:47:54 PM
Following this thread has been really interesting.  Though it looks like quite a challenge, Iím pretty close to heading down the rabbit hole with the rest of you.

@pickdropper and @m-Kresol:   The alignment baseplate jig looks like an important add-on.

pickdropper- how did you make your acrylic alignment plate? 

m-Kresol- how was your wooden baseplate made?  Looks like the board was cut with a router bit to create space for the laser head?  How does the laser connect to the baseplate?
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: pickdropper on October 28, 2017, 03:52:41 PM
Following this thread has been really interesting.  Though it looks like quite a challenge, Iím pretty close to heading down the rabbit hole with the rest of you.

@pickdropper and @m-Kresol:   The alignment baseplate jig looks like an important add-on.

pickdropper- how did you make your acrylic alignment plate? 

m-Kresol- how was your wooden baseplate made?  Looks like the board was cut with a router bit to create space for the laser head?  How does the laser connect to the baseplate?

I laser cut mine on the laser engraver.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: alanp on October 28, 2017, 08:43:20 PM
Has anyone tried cutting 2 or 3mm perspex or acrylic with these, or cutting the RowMark stuff?
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: pickdropper on October 28, 2017, 08:45:56 PM
Has anyone tried cutting 2 or 3mm perspex or acrylic with these, or cutting the RowMark stuff?

I'd be curious if they can cut 3mm perspex without a lot of meltback as well.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: m-Kresol on October 29, 2017, 01:53:56 AM
Following this thread has been really interesting.  Though it looks like quite a challenge, Iím pretty close to heading down the rabbit hole with the rest of you.

@pickdropper and @m-Kresol:   The alignment baseplate jig looks like an important add-on.

pickdropper- how did you make your acrylic alignment plate? 

m-Kresol- how was your wooden baseplate made?  Looks like the board was cut with a router bit to create space for the laser head?  How does the laser connect to the baseplate?

I have not tried an enclosure without the baseplate, but it sure is awesome for aligning.
We made the cutout with a circular saw and a big wood drill for the corners. Stefan insisted we need to route the edges and sand the plate, to stick to his standards (he just made a wonderful crib for his newborn). The baseplate is screwed to the acrylic feet of the laser.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: trotel on October 29, 2017, 11:44:07 AM
Thanks- seems straightforward enough!


I have not tried an enclosure without the baseplate, but it sure is awesome for aligning.
We made the cutout with a circular saw and a big wood drill for the corners. Stefan insisted we need to route the edges and sand the plate, to stick to his standards (he just made a wonderful crib for his newborn). The baseplate is screwed to the acrylic feet of the laser.
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: alanp on June 29, 2018, 09:45:26 PM
Something that just occurred to me -- could you cut a template in, say, thin plastic (an icecream lid or something), tape it to the top of an enclosure, and spraypaint it?
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on June 29, 2018, 09:53:49 PM
Something that just occurred to me -- could you cut a template in, say, thin plastic (an icecream lid or something), tape it to the top of an enclosure, and spraypaint it?

You can cut cardstock to make a template. But I also have a hobby plotter/cutter that can do the same thing faster and cleaner. This is also being discussed here: http://www.madbeanpedals.com/forum/index.php?topic=28126.0
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: alanp on June 29, 2018, 09:59:36 PM
Well, I know as much about this cricut vinyl business as I do about orbital dynamics and lagrange points (they exist, and that's about it), so my thought was laser cutting :)
Title: Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
Post by: culturejam on June 29, 2018, 10:08:12 PM
Well, I know as much about this cricut vinyl business as I do about orbital dynamics and lagrange points (they exist, and that's about it), so my thought was laser cutting :)

The hobby plotters are actually really easy to use. Much easier than lasers. If you're after a way to make templates, the cutter/plotter method is going to be much simpler, in my opinion. Plus, you can make stickers!