We are looking to buy a laser cutter to cut wood for our robot, make cool laser cut key chains, and also for our FTC teams actual robot. Does anyone have any recommendations? We want something as cheap as possible. Under $1000 if possible. Thanks!
How do we feel about completely exposed lasers CD?
That price range will be tough to find anything both usable and safe. I never really found anything the last time I checked around January.
Of course, you can build your own, but that just changes the cost in $ to time and labor.
If you can raise a little more money, this guy has been fantastic for our FRC team -
Search around. You may find a better deal than that too. You could easily make multiple FTC robots on it.
Not good. Not good at all. Exposed lasers can be a huge hazard. It doesn’t take much to wreck your eyesight for the rest of your life. It’s simply not worth the risk, especially in a school or educational setting where kids don’t know what can hurt them. Save your money, buy something safe. These no name super cheap lasers from eBay and eleswhere are not what you want.
Is there a local maker space that might have a laser cutter? You could talk to them and see if they would be willing to help y’all.
Well the good news is, CO2 lasers resonate at 10600 nm, which will burn your corneas, compared to, say, an Nd:YAG laser’s 1064 nm light, which can pass through your cornea and lens and be focused onto your retina. You’ll be blind either way, of course, but I understand corneal burns are slightly less painful than retinal burns.
In all seriousness, when I was doing research with exposed lasers in college, we had:
- Mandatory Class 4 laser training
- Laser safety goggles
- A designated campus Laser Safety Officer
- An interior room with no windows
- An interlock system that would cut power to the room if the door was opened when the laser was on
If you don’t want to go through all that, buy an enclosed (Class 1) laser cutter with interlocks.
Does this have an extraction / filtration system? Would it be safe to use in a closed area?
We hooked up a very big blower from harbor freight I believe to evacuate all of the fumes. Whatever it came stock with probably isn’t sufficient.
It’s definitely something you’ll want to put some work into to make safer, no doubt about that. We’re a community team with some pretty handy mentors that felt comfortable doing that. If you’re not, probably should look elsewhere at a more standard solution, but those will undoubtedly be more expensive.
Something like an Omio router may be a better choice. That way you’ll be able to cut metal with it too, probably more useful in the long run.
We’ve got an Omio, a laser cutter is just kind of on my “interested” list, not urgent. Do you have any pictures of how you hooked up the extraction system? I’d probably hook it up to a blower going to a FSL filtration system.
About 2 years ago I shopped around and bought a Chinese 80W CO2 laser cutter from Jamieson Laser in CT. I power the cutter and all accessories from x2 15Amp 120VAC breakers and standard wall sockets. It has low noise air compressor, a blower for exhaust I vent outside, distilled water cooling, I usually keep a laptop charging nearby but I load the CNC laser cutter from a USB flash drive. I put some pnuematic solenoids and parts in to turn the air on/off during operation. All electrical loads are monitored by Kill-A-Watt meters occasionally to watch for electrical issues. This machine working area is 18" x 24", and the powered Z has a 6" travel, which can have a rotary axis for marking glass installed. This machine cost about $8,000 and fits through standard single door frames.
I have run it for hours with 15-20 minute breaks between loading acrylic, birch wood or leather. Have yet to need new mirrors or tube. Have destroyed 1 water cooler pump. As the power supply heat up, my laser output power does drop slightly so I account for that in my cut setups.
Competitors were Boss Laser in Florida, which I opted against because CT is closer to NJ and the operating area was smaller. Also APLaser which I opted against because I wanted the laser enclosed.
I still only operate this machine while wearing laser rated safety glasses made by Thor Labs in NJ.
As I demonstrated to a friend once with a pretty powerful green handheld laser pointer: he could light paper on fire at the right focal length. It’s not a good idea to play with lasers over a certain power. Especially lasers operating outside of recommended design parameters or in unpredicatable situations.
I strongly recommend an enclosed laser cutter in a home or school setting. Along with a dry chemical fire extinguisher and being very sure what you are cutting because some things outgas chlorine gas when burned by a laser.
Excellent advice above.
We just got a Boss 100 W (LS 2440). $13,500.
It REALLY helps if someone on your Team has used industrial lasers (Me, in our case) as the Boss lasers are not quite ready to use “out of the box”. It is Class 4 (enclosed) and has a very big cutting area.
FYI - These lasers do NOT cut polycarbonate or aluminum.
In the 6 weeks since we’ve had it, we’ve had to upgrade the air-assist compressor, order different lenses, go through extensive troubleshooting, and tweak the exhaust system (another $600 on top of the $13,500 spent for the laser). Just to give you an idea.
Boss Laser Tech support is fantastic. BUT - they work on EST (we are PST) and they don’t work weekends.
You might consider a used Boss (there is a Facebook group for Boss Laser users, VERY helpful, and used lasers there) but I haven’t seen anything at the $1000 price point.
Or find someone with a Laser in your area who isn’t fully utilizing it and rent the time?
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