K40 Laser Cutter, Meet Raspberry Pi

The inexpensive Chinese K40 laser cutter has become the staple of many a small workshop within our community, providing a not-very-large and not-very-powerful cutter for a not-very-high price. As shipped it’s a machine that’s not without its flaws, and there is a whole community of people who have contributed fixes and upgrades to make these cutters into something a lot more useful.

[Alex Eames] bought a K40, and since he’s the person behind the Raspi.tv Raspberry Pi business, when he switched from the supplied Corel-based software to the popular open-source K40 Whisperer his obvious choice was to run it on a Raspberry Pi. Since K40 Whisperer is written in Python he reasoned that the Pi’s ARM platform would not prevent its use, so he set to work and documented the process and his workflow.

It’s a straightforward enough process, and his K40 now has a Pi into which he can SFTP his files rather than the inevitable old laptop that accompanies most K40s. With so many K40 improvements created by its community, we find it surprising that some enterprising Chinese manufacturer hasn’t seen the opportunity to make a quick buck or two extra and incorporate some of them into their products at the factory, including one of the many single board computers that could perform this task.

We’ve covered a lot of K40 stories over the years, if you are new to this machine you might like to take a look at this story of bringing one to life.

22 thoughts on “K40 Laser Cutter, Meet Raspberry Pi

  1. You could always paint an aluminium sheet, laser away the paint where the holes should go and then etch the aluminium. I am almost sure I have seen laser cut stencils mentioned on HaD.

  2. “we find it surprising that some enterprising Chinese manufacturer hasn’t seen the opportunity to make a quick buck or two extra and incorporate some of them into their products at the factory, including one of the many single board computers that could perform this task.”

    I don’t. That takes effort and costs money, plus customers can come to you with questions about this new design. Making a quick buck or two extra is actually much easier if you can just keep pushing out the same design over and over. Economy of scales are much more important at this level

    1. Questions?

      Do people actually expect tech support when they buy cheap goods from overseas off of Ebay? When they do ask, is tech support actually provided? I always assumed that being ‘on my own’ was the price I pay when I buy cheap like that. Not that I’m really ever ‘on my own’ thanks to the internet!

      What I haven’t really understood is why the K40 board and software continues to exist. Everyone said how bad it was (I haven’t tried it) and so many replaced it with RAMPS and free software… Like you said, economy of scale.. Quite possibly those factories making the K40 boards are already making RAMPS boards anyway. If not then they are probably available in a different booth at the same market anyway.

      Why didn’t they discontinue their proprietary board and just start shipping K40s with RAMPS in them back before K40 Whisperer was even created? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just make double the number of RAMPS boards instead of making RAMPS for printers and K40 boards for laser cutters?

      I always assumed it was because the free, open source software doesn’t support raster images. But then I thought I read somewhere that K40s proprietary firmware doesn’t do that either.. is that true?

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