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laser etching

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  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
laser etching
Posted by Don Stauffer on Thursday, April 05, 2018 4:38 PM

I have been reading about desktop laser etching machines.  Some of them can also cut some sheet stock.  They seem inexpensive, $100-200.  Can find very little technical info on them, however- things like how deep is the cut, can you control depth/power.  Amazon seems to be selling a number of makes and models, but the info they give is minimal, just a picture, what type of laser, and max power.  Anyone know any more about these things?  I have been playing with my Cricut to cut thin styrene, but these laser devices seem to be a higher resolution.

 

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    July, 2014
  • From: Meridian, ID
Posted by modelcrazy on Thursday, April 05, 2018 5:21 PM

No, but think of the PE you can make with it, let alone the scratch building you can do.

Steve

ON THE BENCH

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  • Member since
    January, 2015
Posted by PFJN on Thursday, April 05, 2018 11:13 PM

Hi,

After seeing your post I was intrigued by the technology and went looking stuff up on laser cutters/engravers.  Here is one site that I came across that might be of help for you.

https://all3dp.com/1/laser-cutter-home-affordable-small-laser-cutting-services/

Regards

Pat

  • Member since
    May, 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Friday, April 06, 2018 4:09 AM

Hello!

I have bought a cheap chinese machine like that. It has a laser of 500mW power and an operating field about 2''x 2''. It was a little under 100$ with shipping from China. There is a spare laser module available for it - if you are going to use the machine a lot the laser will wear out.

What is it good for? I have used it for cutting out really impossible parts for my card models - like this church:

1:100 WAK Saint Dimitriy Church in Piatkowa by Pawel

The crosses on top of the towers and the window frames were cut out using my machine. I have also used it for scratchbuilding to transfer complicated pattern on styrene sheet - either directly or by making paper templates. The thing is such machine can't cut through styrene sheet, because it's melting the edges. But it can etch slight grooves in styrene sheet. It's also good for burning fancy signs on wooden planks. I have also signed my toothbrushes with this machine :-)

I hope it helps, have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Friday, April 06, 2018 9:24 AM

Pawel

Hello!

...

What is it good for? I have used it for cutting out really impossible parts for my card models - like this church:

 

The crosses on top of the towers and the window frames were cut out using my machine. I have also used it for scratchbuilding to transfer complicated pattern on styrene sheet - either directly or by making paper templates. The thing is such machine can't cut through styrene sheet, because it's melting the edges. But it can etch slight grooves in styrene sheet. It's also good for burning fancy signs on wooden planks. I have also signed my toothbrushes with this machine :-)

I hope it helps, have a nice day

Paweł

 

I see it as a replacement for photo etch.  I bought one of Micro Mark home photo etching sets, and it is a lot of work to do a sheet of PE brass.  I have tried various substitutes for the photo process.  Hey, is photo-less photo etch an oxymoron?  Anyway, often small detail parts do not need to be metal for strength, it is just that the etchant and photo resist process works on metals.  I have been trying to make my Cricut machine cut thin vinyl, but the resolution leaves something to be desired.  Even the cheaper laser etcher machines claim pretty good resolutioin, and your photos seem to show pretty good res.

So, I am wondering how well these things would cut, say 0.020 styrene sheet.  If so, making good small detail parts for the scratch builder would be easier than existing methods.

 

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    May, 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Friday, April 06, 2018 4:10 PM

Hello Don!

The potential is there. In theory you even are able to control the laser power as the machine etches, to give you variable etching depth. But, like I said, styrene isn't such a good material here, because it has a tendency to melt and then the edges get distorted. If you had a large power machine, you could etch in metal, but with low power your best options are cardboard, paper and wood. Maybe etching a part in paper and then soaking it in super-glue would do the trick for you? I did it with some of my designs.

Hope it helps, have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Sunday, April 08, 2018 11:39 AM

Plywood might be a good thing to try.  I can get both 1/64 and 1/32 inch stuff around here.

 

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    February, 2017
Posted by ugamodels on Sunday, May 13, 2018 9:26 PM

How about wood veneer? I imagine it is about 1/100 or so, but I haven't measured it.

I type on a tablet. Please excuse the terseness and the autocorrect. Not to mention the erors. 

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Monday, May 14, 2018 9:07 AM

I am concerned about strength on veneer.  Doesn't the grain mean it is strong in one direct, week in the other.  That is why I am not planning to try 1/36 balsa or basswood for awhile.  Even the very thin plywoods are pretty strong.

I also remember when it was possible to by 1/64 balsa sheet! Fragile stuff, though.

 

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    May, 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Monday, May 14, 2018 3:34 PM

Hello!

Wood veneer is a very good material for etching. Even a weak laser can do the job of punching through if you let it shoot more than one time, and so it is possible to compound several etching sessions on one piece of wood securely strapped to the table of the machine.

The etched parts aren't really meant for strength, but you can always reinforce them a little by soaking them with thin CA - this should take care of the possible weak spots caused by the grain.

Or you take very thin plywood - this is also an option.

Hope it helps, have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    March, 2008
Posted by Caveman on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 5:32 PM

I run a Trotec 400 at work.  Much larger than a hobby machine.  I find that even at full power there are some metals that it won't touch.  I need to use a spray that allows the laser to etch the surface and not just reflect off the metal.  These etching sprays can get pricey, but are available in many colors.  Multiple passes are the way to go with many substrates, wood, leather, glass etc.  Also shooting styrene will quickly bung up the air filters so I would suggest directly venting outside and cleaning the colminator lens after each styrene job.

As much as I would like to, I have yet to make any parts for myself but with a kerf of 6 microns the accuracy should be tough to beat.

 

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