Bachelor Builds Enormous Laser Cutter, Nobody Complains

Nothing says swinging 21st-century bachelor pad better than a laser cutter. To really make a statement, you want a custom-built, 100 Watt, 1200mm x 900mm laser cutter.

The bachelor in question, [drandolph], rightly points out that a $6,000 build that takes up a significant fraction of the floor space in one’s apartment is better attempted without the benefit of spousal oversight. Still, what spouse couldn’t love the finished product? With a custom aluminum extrusion frame (which barely made the trip from China intact) it’s a sturdy affair, and who could deny the appeal of the soft glow of an LED-illuminated work chamber? A custom exhaust system with sound-deadening, a water chiller for laser cooling, an Arduino-controlled status beacon – there’s even a 3-D printed beer holder on the control panel! And think of all the goodies that will come off the enormous bed of this thing. Note to self: make sure wife sees this post.

There are cheaper and smaller laser cutters, but what’s the point if you have the freedom to go big?

[via r/DIY]

54 thoughts on “Bachelor Builds Enormous Laser Cutter, Nobody Complains

    1. Yep, mostly lightobject.com their gantry and frame is a great starting point. I did lots of modifications to the frame but their frame kit is cheaper than buying extrusion and hardware separate. Then I chopped it up and added extra till I got what I wanted.

    1. I exhaust outside the window using a 6″ exhaust vent. My house is far enough away from the neighbors that I don’t think the smell will mind. Most of my exhaust parts come from hydroponic providers and I’ve thought about using some of their carbon filters inline.

  1. Having seen a load of filters chillers and what have you I’ve found that unless you are paying top dollar for the kit then the best way of getting rid of the stink is massive volumes of air flow out preferably reasonably high up where it will be taken by the wind. This obviously depends on the amount of plastic you are cutting of course a couple of parts a week then who cares a 100 sheets then maybe you really need something Olympic ;-)

    1. It’s not easy to make a precise estimate on resolution because of the reliance on PPI and DPI and steps. My PPI (pulse per inch) is around 1000 and the DPI (dots per inch) is about 1200 and my steps are 1/32 on a 1.8 degree stepper with 2:1 gearing.

    1. Funny, that was the main reason for building mine. There’s no cutter out there in this size that would fit through any regular doors. Now if I move I can break the frame down, move it and then put it back together.

      1. I built the walls around mine after moving the completed machine into a space in my garage (which went from holding two cars to one). That allowed me to make the room as small as possible while still leaving perfectly-aligned access doors on the sides for making periodic adjustments. I also added in noise-isolated spaces for the air and water handling gear. The room is more customized than the laser cutter is!

  2. FYI not all wives are uncool, some once they figure out the benifits of bespoke everything to their design, and some are also, or even THE maker with a cool stuff adverse husband. Some women also like a cool beer if it is properly brewed. Choose wisely your partner for more fun in life.

    1. True. Mine came to me one day and suggested we convert the master bedroom into a workshop / lab. Then again, I came home one day to find a 6 month pregnant wife with a sledge hammer and 3 rooms turned into one. And here we build with bricks and cement.

  3. Even with the best exhaust system it’s going to permanently stink up the “pad” when he cuts stuff like acrylic. I have essentially the same machine (except that I bought it assembled, not being as brave as drandolph) in a walled-off part of my garage, with a big honkin’ exhaust system that vents to the outside of the house and sounds like a jet engine when it’s running. With that 100W laser blasting away and the air assist jet blowing debris everywhere, fumes leak from every pore in the enclosure. Guests are a bit stunned by the fragrance when they enter the laser room, so I can’t imagine what it would be like having the thing loose in an apartment. Fortunately my wife loves the machine almost as much as I do (that is, hands-down favorite toy from my whole entire long life), but I’m quite sure she’d be a hell of a lot less enthusiastic if it were anywhere other than the garage.

    1. BTW, one fun thing about having a machine that powerful is that you can cut some surprising materials. I can cut out neat, clean shapes from 1/2″ drywall (which doesn’t burn) and 3/4″ lumber. It will etch quartz and blast away the glazing on ceramic tile (that takes a few passes). It even melts(!) clean holes all the way through 1/8″ plate glass (haven’t yet tried thicker), though my attempts to cut out complex shapes for stained glass projects have so far only resulted in shattered fragments. It will cut nickel foil (not copper, alas) with ease, making me wonder if that would work for PCBs for circuits that would tolerate traces having 22% of the conductance of copper (nickel-clad ceramic PCBs!).

      1. Could you cover the copper with paint, or black dust or something? Is it that copper doesn’t vapourise at that temperature (surely not, if it cuts glass), or does it reflect the beam back too much?

        1. Unfortunately, copper is a very good reflector at that wavelength, so after burning through any coating the beam would just bounce off. When I tried a piece of copper foil in my machine (I like to live dangerously :-) there was no mark whatsoever on it, unlike with almost everything else I’ve tried. I was very surprised by how aggressively it cut through nickel foil, so it’s not just a metal thing.

    2. I’ve got a laser Cutter inside our house and cut wood and acrylic and no fumes leak out of the machine, not a particularly high flow exhaust fan only 700CFM from memory… doesn’t smell in our house at all. I leave any cut material in the laser til it has finished off gassing and then it comes out

    3. I got my self an additional extractor fan 8″ not sure the volume per hour off hand and it really helps.
      The ones that come with the unit are useless :(
      Prepare for a stink that lasts for days if you do too much Acrylic !

      1. Yup. But you can always cut pine to help mask the plastic odor. Plus, it’s fun the watch the showers of sparks that are thrown off (don’t forget to turn on the air assist!!).

    1. Really nice work! I’m impressed by your Z-Axis. I got kinda lazy and went with a lift. I’m already redoing my smoke box out of aluminum and putting rails in to keep it aligned.

  4. This is why I am 100% behind the drive to get more women into engineering. So that you don’t have to be a bachelor to build this, your other half will be well up for it and will be able to help. :-)

    The couples out there who are both engineers, either professionally or as a hobby, are exceptionally lucky and I envy you. ;)

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