Author Topic: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!  (Read 4964 times)

madbean

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #15 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.
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wgc

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #16 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.
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gordo

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #17 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.

culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #18 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.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2017, 04:54:05 PM by culturejam »

madbean

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #19 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?
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culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #20 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.

pickdropper

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #21 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.

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culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #22 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%.

drolo

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #23 on: May 31, 2017, 01:50:11 PM »
Really cool stuff!
Now if only there was a way to combine it with this ... :
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lg__B6Ca3jc" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lg__B6Ca3jc</a>

 8)

culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #24 on: May 31, 2017, 03:09:50 PM »
Dammit, Rolo! Now I'm going to have to look into this as well.  ;D

drolo

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #25 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

somnif

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #26 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.

culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #27 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.

culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #28 on: May 31, 2017, 10:50:07 PM »
And here's a "fiberboard" blank coaster.

selfdestroyer

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #29 on: June 02, 2017, 09:37:32 AM »
That really is impressive for the price.. Thanks for the update CJ