Which laser is the current favorite?

Is the Thunder Nova 51 still the lead or ???
Does the Bescutter Versa Star get some love?
Our target is plywood and acrylic. Camera layout is a big plus.

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Plywood and acrylic, but not delrin?

When I was using a laser to do rapid prototyping in a lab some years ago, all of our bread-and-butter mechanical parts were made of delrin. The stuff’s remarkable.

Delrin isn’t exactly the cheapest material. Why would you want to do rapid prototypes with that over material like plywood?

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Plywood’s not the most dimensionally-stable material ever, which can be a pain for gear spacing and the like.

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Which laser do you cut your favorite sheet goods with?

Quality plywood (such as Baltic Birch) cuts beautifully and is plenty adequate for prototype gear spacing. More expensive than the really cheap stuff at the local hardware store, but a darn site cheaper than something like delrin.

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Hard to source good stuff, in my experience. Delrin’s pretty readily available (though some suppliers have problems with warping).

why not the whole bot? Baltic birch is incredible. our entire chassis was wood. has been since 2009.

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Nice! @cmwilson13 which laser did y’all cut that with!

None of you answered the OP’s question.
I would also like to know what’s the hot machine right now.

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The discussion has mostly been about materials, not machines. The posters may or may not have laser cutters.

My guess is that there isn’t going to be a clear “hot” machine like the Omio X8 is for a low-cost router suitable for FRC. Over the last few years, there have been quite a few posts on the topic of laser cutters and brands owned by teams have varied quite a bit. Some example brands are:

Thunder
Boss
Epilog
Trotec
Full Spectrum
LightObject
Grizzly
Laguna
Universal
Orion Motor Tech
G.weike
Generic “Chinese”

There hasn’t been any single brand getting mentioned all the time. Generic Chinese lasers purchased from eBay get mentioned about as often as Boss, for example.

I also don’t detect a lot of dissatisfaction with particular brands. Positive sentiment dominates. I don’t even recall negative sentiment except for something like a Glowforge that isn’t really suitable for typical FRC tasks.

It will be interesting to see what other input comes in on this thread and if there is some clear brand leader that FRC teams have adopted. I’m expecting to see a wide variety of brand recommendations from happy users.

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Delrin is great for quick final robot parts with some load but doesn’t need to be as strong as aluminum.
Shooter plates, gussets, and gearbox plates are all good. We even used Delrin on climb hooks, and those work great. It costs the same as aluminum, but with 10-minute lead times instead of dealing with cam, setup, etc., while doing the same job.

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I agree with all of this. He mentioned it for rapid-prototyping which is what I questioned.

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We use the laser cutter for plywood prototypes, but the rest of the school fans and engraves a wide range of materials.

What I’m looking for is names of machines that folks are happy with. We need to buy a new one ASAP…

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We have an AP Lazer that we like. They are not cheap machines

There are a lot of cheap quality last cutters out there. I found a Facebook group “laser builders group” that has great resources on building your own laser cutter. Lightobject has some pre-built kits and The Laser Cutter Build Series — Further Fabrication has documentation and build videos. I was looking at $2400 for a 60w 1200x600 setup. You’d want at least 100w for prototyping. I’d budget 4k for a diy large format laser cutter for prototyping.

A guy at our makerspace bought a 100w with custom engraving software. He spent 12k. It was likely a 4k machine that was rebranded and sold for 12k. His parts were crazy expensive for repairs. Beware what you buy.

Make sure people are serious about safety with laser cutters. At the makerspace people would run the machine with the lid up. That invisible light can do serious damage.

Based on the recommendations of others in a previous thread earlier in 2022, we decided to pursue purchasing this:
Fablight 4500

It seems like the Fablight is a popular choice.

And we’re getting this also:
Kern Lasercell KT400

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We need a “just works” unit, not a project. The teacher in charge of the makerspace is not able to tinker with the laser. $13k is ok!

It should be noted that a fiber laser and a CO2 laser are two very different things, that have very different costs, and work with different materials.

Universal and Epilog are both quality stuff but you’re looking at 3-7 times the cost of a whatever brand Chinese laser. And you will be locked to Universal/Epilog for consumables, software, and support.

Many of the Chinese lasers are very similar to each other with subtle differences between them. I’d be looking for one with the standard Ruida controller that is supported by Lightburn software.

Boss Laser was reliable and phone support was good (a few years ago anyhow). Omtec laser is pretty similar and is about half the cost. Haven’t heard any first-hand accounts of using one yet.

Whatever you do, get a good fume extractor. The cost is not negligible.

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David,
for us, this is the very reason we are getting these 2. Cost is pricey, but with outside support funding, we are able to cover it.