A capacitive discharge welder/cutter for all your lightweight needs

microspot-welder

[Radu Motisan] wrote in to share a cool project he has been working on lately, a pulsed microspot welder/cutter.

The device is capable of spot welding thin metals such as foils and battery tabs by sending a pair of high current pulses between the two electrodes whenever [Radu] presses the trigger button. The cutting portion of his device uses the same general mechanism, though it requires a far greater number of pulses to get the work done.

The welding/cutting process is controlled by an ATMega16, which is also tasked with taking input from the user and displaying information on the LCD panel. The microcontroller creates quick (in the ten to several hundred microsecond range) pulses for both welding and cutting, with the latter obviously requiring a long series of pulses.

[Radu] started out using a relatively small capacitor array to power the device, but has recently upgraded to a 1.6 Farad car audio capacitor, which works (and looks) much better than before. His blog seems to update every few days with more pictures and details about his welding station, so be sure to check back often for updates.

Be sure to stick around to see a short video of [Radu] adding metal tabs to batteries and tearing down an aluminum can with his cutter.

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Just in case you didn’t know how awesome laser cutters really are

[Alex] got his hands on an Epiloge laser cutter the easy way — the company he works for bought one. We’re sure he’s not trying to rub it in, but he really does make the tool look and sound cool in the post he wrote purely to show off the new toy hardware.

This model is a CO2 laser and it’s capable of etching and cutting a variety of materials. It does so with a 1200 DPI resolution at 0.005 pitch. The samples of engraved text and images show the clean lines and shapes this type of accuracy can achieve. The most stunning example is a piece of anodized aluminum which ends up showing some fantastic contrast that would make perfect face plates for project enclosures. Then there’s the cutting feature which is responsible for the gear demo seen above. We were surprised to hear that it will cut through acrylic but not polycarbonate.

After the break we’ve embedded [Alex’s] video. The camera is focused on the cutter as it engraves some lettering, then cuts out a gear. During the process he discusses what he’s learned about the device, sharing some interesting tidbits along the way.

We’re hoping to see some cool stuff like this from [Grenadier] who recently won a similar 40 Watt CO2 laser from Full Spectrum.

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BAMF2011: Lasersaur is one BIG laser cutter!

Psst…wanna buy a laser cutter, but not ready to sell your internal organs? Nortd Labs’ Lasersaur project aims to create an open source large-format laser cutter/engraver that undercuts (har har!) the cost of commercial models by an order of magnitude.

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Save boatloads of cash by building your own laser cutter

diy_laser_build

Have a bunch of time on your hands, and about $2,500 sitting around? Why not settle in and build yourself a laser cutter?

That’s exactly what Buildlog forum member [r691175002] did, and he told us about it in our comments just a few moments ago. Laser cutters can be pretty cost prohibitive depending on what you are thinking of picking up. The cheapest Epilog laser we could find costs $8,000, and you know what can happen when you try buying a cheap laser online.

Instead of going for a ready-made cutter, he purchased an open-source kit from Buildlog, documenting the highlights of the build process online. The build log walks through a good portion of the construction starting with the frame and motor mounts, continuing through wiring up the electronics as well as some of the finishing touches. If you happen to head over to take a look around, you will find that there are plenty of pictures from various stages of the construction process to keep you busy for awhile.

With everything said and done, [Ryan] is quite happy with his laser. After going through the build process, he offers up some useful construction advice, as well as tips on sourcing cheaper hardware. He estimates that if he built the laser today, he could probably cut the costs nearly in half.

There’s no doubt about it – a $1300 laser cutter sounds pretty darn good to us.

Bench-top laser engraver does some cutting too

Grab that stack of old optical drives you have in the corner and get to work building this laser engraver. [Groover] is taking a no-nonsense approach to the build and we think it is just simple enough to be accessible to a very wide audience.

The physical assembly uses sleds from two optical drives. These are mounted some angle bracket. Since lasers cut at one specific focal length, there is not need for a Z axis (simplifying the build greatly). In fact, we think the hardest part of the assembly is retrieving the laser diode from a DVD-R drive and packaging it for use with this setup.

The electronics are a combination of a couple of consumer products. Two pre-fab motor drivers are used to command the stepper motors on the optical sleds. These receive their commands from an Arduino. A package called GRBL reads in G-code ([Groover] shows how to generate this from Inkscape) and in turn sends commands to the Arduino.

The results are quite remarkable. It can engrave wood with great resolution and contrast. The video after the break even shows it cutting out shapes from construction paper. Now we still want our own full-size laser cutter, but this project is much more fiscally possible for us.

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Make your own cookie cutters this year

In case you needed another reason to build, borrow, or buy a 3D printer, here’s one way to design and print your own cookie cutters. [Nikolaus Gradwohl] put together a processing app that aims to make the design process a bit easier. So if you’ve never designed a printable object before, but can get your hands on a MakerBot or similar device through a friend or your local hackerspace, this is for you. Check out the video after the break to see the process of making a cutter in the shape of a mushroom, or just download the app and give it a go.

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Building a laser cutter from a weak laser

We covet laser cutters and this diy model with a 1 Watt IR diode may be well within our price range. Most commercially available laser cutters, and some homemade ones, work in the 20-100 Watt ranges, using a CO2 laser. They have more than enough power to cut right through a lot of materials so how can a 1W diode compare? It seems that the weaker laser is still quite powerful right at its focal length, so moving that point along the Z axis will let you burn away a larger depth of material. The test rig seen above uses optical drive components for the three axes and managed to cut a rectangular piece out of the black plastic from a CD case.

This isn’t [Peter’s] first try with CNC lasers. He’s the one that’s be working on an open source selective laser sintering platform.

[Thanks Osgeld and Vesanies]