A Blinding Conclusion

DSCN0817I could say it came to me in a flash of light. That’s may be a bit too corny.

I believe I have invested in the proper level of LASER engraver for my needs and expectations. Both in price and performance. I am pleased with the performance of a 5 watt power level. The trade off is slower speed but I have plenty of time for that.

The LASER is a two and one half dimensional material remover. It is not capable of three dimensional material removal without (I imagine) very sophisticated power level modulation or a fully proportional Z axis movement.

If such control were implemented the results would be a fully charred and burned surface. The LASER is a burning tool.

The depth achievable of a three dimensional burn would also be very limited as the cutting tool is a tapered highly focused pin point of light. Z axis height modulation would be a must. 

Material like wood and bamboo have grain fiber that burns away at different rates. The bottom of a wide area that is flat engraved is seldom smooth. The choice of material is critical for clean cutting.

Such burn variation can be (and is) a feature of LASER engraving.

The low powered LASER engraver is a wonderful addition to my hobby-class work. It does highly detailed 2.5D engraving in combustable materials. Smoke, soot, ash, odor are major by-products of a LASER. Not similar to the fine and course swarf (chips) produced from using sharp edge tool rotary machining operations in wood and metal. There are some fumes from cutting oils which vaporize in metal machining. Wood and metal swarf mostly falls to the floor. Smoke doesn’t.

My three dimensional CNC machines and Vectric Aspire software are not being replacedby the LASER.

Three dimensional (wax) machining for jewelry is best done on a 3 to 5 axis machine tool. I tested cutting wax with the 5 watt LASER. It made me laugh. It sucked in the 5 watts of light and begged for more.

A commercial LASER 40 watts and higher is certainly a different story but the same limitations. The LASER does its particular 2.5D thing and is not a replacement for any true 3D machining process.

I am so happy I long ago convinced myself that, although the process is very interesting, I have absolutely have no practical use or need for a high power and very high cost LASER tool.

When low powered RTR (ready to run) diode LASER machines became available for under $200, I felt it was a good time to go play with a new toy. They are not a child’s toy, but the cost puts them in range of the price and safety conscious hobbyist. The difference between men and boys thing…

Their toys!