Constructing a CO2 laser cutter

angler

[Owen] contacted us to show us his site dedicated to his CO2 laser cutter build. He spent about 2 years and roughly $15,000 putting it together, so this is not small build. The laser and optics alone were $9,000. This site isn’t necessarily meant to be a template to build your own, but he shares so much information that we would certainly suggest you read it before digging into a build. He does have some downloadables, like the tool paths and the emc2 configuration files as well as a copy of the entire website. Great job [Owen].

25 thoughts on “Constructing a CO2 laser cutter

  1. Considering a 40 – 60 watt solid laser engraver/cutter can run $10 – $20k used, this is decent but 250 watts is pretty lightweight. It takes 4000 watts to cut through 1/4″ aluminum. 1500ish can do steel though.

  2. Props/Respect on the build.

    @Sparky, I agree with you. Looking at that sub,
    it’s hard to tell if he has a separate ground
    feeding it (from main panel). If not, it’s going
    to create safety issues, and under some fault
    conditions, you’ll have the outer conduit between
    the sub, and the “appliance control” panel “hot”.
    (ie. touch it, ground yourself, die). Reason NEC
    wants grounds extended from the main to a sub (in
    the same building). And unless he left the cover off
    for the picture, it’s definitely a hazard without
    the protective cover.

    In one picture he says he tore out the brick (at
    the base of the laser supporting frame), and put
    rebar down before pouring a slab. But if you look
    at the pic, it shows the rebar, and the brick is
    still below it. It does show some ‘efflorescence”
    (ie. moisture issues). Long term, probably a bad
    idea pouring concrete over it, but given it’s not
    a house foundation, it’s no big deal for a simple
    slab supporting shop equipment.

    Why is asking “how much did it cost?” (in his FAQ)
    a “rude question” ?

  3. It has a separate ground. Typically I keep covers on both the sub and appliance control.

    Yeah, the slab was made by removing some of the brick along the edges of the form, but not all of it. When they made the floor (probably 50-90 years ago) they just dropped the brick on top of dirt. I could have poured concrete on the brick, or the dirt, not sure moisture issues would be really different.

    Its a rented house so I dont go too crazy on building for my life time. Hell the roof leaks I figure that’ll be the biggest moisture problem.

    Cost questions are not rude, I was being funny.
    o

  4. p.s. quick question… I don’t have much background knowledge on these things, but how do you keep the support slats (that keep the piece in place) from getting burned by the laser?

  5. @Tachikoma,
    If it’s anything like my plasma cutter:
    1) You make an effort to avoid hitting them with the laser.
    2) You just cut through them and then replace as needed. They’re really easy to make if you own… say.. a laser cutter.

  6. This is an awesome build, but I am more amused by the setting. Looking at this, you see this incredibly high tech device that was just kind of built from spare parts in a grungy basement. Its awesome, and reminds me of all those things in star wars that were just thrown together by junk, but are still actually highly complex machines compared to what we have. Like how the millennium falcon was just a big pile of junk, but was still a very capable spacecraft. This certainly isn’t a pile of junk, but at first glance you may not notice. When our technology gets complex enough, it becomes possible for one dude in his basement to build an extremely high powered laser cutter. 20 years ago this would have been in a very expensive lab environment if it were even possible, and this guys just got his in a grungy basement. I love it. :)
    -Taylor

  7. I’ve seen his site before, and I think it’s been on this site before. Somewhere there’s a picture of his thumb that got in the way of the beam. Says it cauterizes as it cuts!

  8. This brings back memories of replacing a 125 pound transformer on a Co2 laser 20 plus years ago. Damn thing had a slab of granite in it about 1000 pounds to absorb vibrations.

  9. @ Caleb and others.
    Its true I did have a post on this over five years ago. The project represents a complete overhaul of everything starting from electrical wiring, the physical plant, optics, software, and a lot of new electronics. This system was essentially rebuilt because I had to move to a new site, with a lotta construction to the shop. I also documented it far more than before, and I also built the web site which I thought would be of interest. I mentioned all this in my original request to get it posted – I hope its okay.

    owen

  10. I made the calculation once – cost of running the laser (plus ventilation and chiller) increases my electrical bill by about $2.50 per month.

    Its not like running air conditioning or even a hottub — the thing only runs intermittently — maybe a max of a 5-6 hours a weekend.

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