Craigslist can be a good source for finding someone else’s abandoned projects. Besides being extremely jealous, you’ll agree that [Mike's] find is atypical of the normal Craigslist listings. He scored a 75% complete group of laser cutter parts for $500. That included the XY frame, stepper motors, Gecko motor drivers, optics, and 40 watt CO2 laser tube. He paired the laser parts with another Craigslist find, a $15 desk. A few more parts and 3 weeks of tinkering later, [Mike] had a working DIY mutant Ikea Desk Laser Cutter.
The laser cutter has a 23 x 14 inch work envelope and is controlled via Mach3. The X Axis of the frame had a little bit of wobble in it so [Mike] added a THK linear rail and bearing to stiffen it up. To add a little bit of mistake proofing to the laser, [Mike] put a water flow sensor in the laser tube cooling system. The laser will not turn on unless water is pumping to cool the laser tube. Wrecking your laser tube by accident would be a total bummer!
Continue reading “Ikea Desk Laser Cutter Combo”
Over on the Projects site, [ThunderSqueak] is pushing the bounds of what anyone would call reasonable and is building a CO2 laser from parts that can be found in any home improvement store.
Despite being able to cut wood, paper, and a bunch of other everyday materials, a carbon dioxide laser is actually surprisingly simple. All you need to do is fill a tube with CO2, put some mirrors and lenses on each end, and run an electric current through the gas. In practice, though, there’s a lot of extra bits and bobs required for a working laser.
[ThunderSqueak] will need some sort of cooling for his laser, and for that he’s constructed a watercooling jacket out of 2″ PVC. In the end caps, a pair of brass pipe fittings are JB Welded in place, allowing a place for the mirror assembly and lenses.
The mirror mounts are the key component of this build, but the construction method is surprisingly simple. [ThunderSqueak] is using a few brass barbed hose fittings, with washers stuck on one end. The washers are drilled to accept a trio of bolts that will allow the mirrors to be perfectly parallel; anything less and the CO2 won’t lase.
The build isn’t complete yet, but having already built a few lasers, there’s little doubt [ThunderSqueak] will be able to pull this one off as well.
CO2 lasers make use of a honeycomb table which allows you to support parts you are cutting — without cutting into the bed too much. Unfortunately they are a consumable part, so they will eventually wear out, and they aren’t that cheap. [Claptrap] came up with an excellent alternative.
A few months ago, his radiator blew in his station wagon, and it had to be replaced. He was about to throw it out when he realized the similarity of the radiators cooling fins, to that of his honeycomb table… He cut it down to size, pressure washed it (though he notes you should probably wash it first before cutting) and put it in place. It works great!
The only caveat we have is that you should probably flush the radiator with a water pump first — you don’t want to be heating up any residual radiator fluid inside the radiator channels!
Continue reading “A Cheap Honeycomb Table Replacement for your Laser”