Author Topic: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!  (Read 6135 times)

AntKnee

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #30 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.
I build, and once in a while I might sell, pedals as "Vertigo Effects".

culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #31 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.


selfdestroyer

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #32 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.

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culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #33 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.

drolo

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #34 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 :-)

culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #35 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!

p_wats

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #36 on: June 13, 2017, 01:38:58 PM »
Very interested in the progress here, as I was looking up similar machines last week.

culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #37 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!

culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #38 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.

culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #39 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.

culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #40 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 :)
« Last Edit: July 09, 2017, 11:28:00 PM by culturejam »

gordo

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #41 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.

madbean

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #42 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.
I own madbeanpedals (duh). I am part owner of Function F(X).

culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #43 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.

culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #44 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.