Author Topic: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!  (Read 10566 times)

madbean

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #45 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.
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pickdropper

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #46 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.
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culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #47 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.

pickdropper

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #48 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.
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culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #49 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?

culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #50 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!

pickdropper

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #51 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.
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pickdropper

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #52 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.
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culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #53 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

madbean

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #54 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?
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culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #55 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.

pickdropper

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #56 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.
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Val

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #57 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!

culturejam

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #58 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.

Val

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Re: Laser engraving enclosures with a cheap Chinese machine? Yes!
« Reply #59 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!
« Last Edit: July 23, 2017, 03:42:15 PM by Val »