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Cheapo Router & Engraver Set-Up

whydontu

I Tried, It Broke
Premium Member
Here’s my latest iteration of cheap engravers. 3018 CNC router with aluminum spoil board (6 mm tapped holes on 20 mm centres), and Jinsoku LE-1620 laser engraver. Table is a roll-around shelf unit I snagged from a grocery store that was buying new fixtures and blowing out their old shelves. Rock solid, and a layer of 1/4” pegboard makes a nice work surface.

The laser engraver has an aluminum spoil board with hold-down holes matching the pegboard holes. Rube Goldberg air assist made from an aquarium pump and some vinyl tubing.

$100 PC with $15 monitor, no big worries if they get fried when something goes wrong. Spent more money on software than hardware. ESTLCAM for the router, Lightburn for the laser.

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Tomc938

Ultra Member
Premium Member
Nice setup!

If I need to add to my growing list of hobbies, I think something like this would be next in line.

Well done.
 
Here’s my latest iteration of cheap engravers. 3018 CNC router with aluminum spoil board (6 mm tapped holes on 20 mm centres), and Jinsoku LE-1620 laser engraver. Table is a roll-around shelf unit I snagged from a grocery store that was buying new fixtures and blowing out their old shelves. Rock solid, and a layer of 1/4” pegboard makes a nice work surface.

The laser engraver has an aluminum spoil board with hold-down holes matching the pegboard holes. Rube Goldberg air assist made from an aquarium pump and some vinyl tubing.

$100 PC with $15 monitor, no big worries if they get fried when something goes wrong. Spent more money on software than hardware. ESTLCAM for the router, Lightburn for the laser.
Can an engraver like this engrave on cast iron or steel???
 

whydontu

I Tried, It Broke
Premium Member
Can an engraver like this engrave on cast iron or steel???
Not very well. The 3018 can do aluminum, but not anything harder. The laser is only 5500mw so struggles with metal. I’m going to try the laser on slate, I have successfully engraved ceramic tiles with it but it takes a pile of prep work.
 

whydontu

I Tried, It Broke
Premium Member
I stand corrected. Painfully slow, engraves at 100mm/minute, so this 1-1/8" x 1/2" Mini logo on 304 stainless took 15 minutes. Trick is to coat the stainless with a Sharpie so the laser doesn't just reflect off the stainless. Nowhere near as sharp as using my old-fashioned Hermes engraver.

Does not work at all on aluminum.

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Would it burn off anodizing on aluminum? ie could a machine label be duplicated by anodizing an aluminum blank and burning off the appropriate pattern from the anodizing???
 

DavidR8

Scrap maker
Administrator
Moderator
Premium Member
Burning off anodizing is common practice. That's how customized travel mugs are done for companies. Start with an anodized mug and burn off the anodizing using a rotary tool.

Edit: Zinc spray paint aka spray galvanizing, is used on stainless to the same effect.
 
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whydontu

I Tried, It Broke
Premium Member
Would it burn off anodizing on aluminum? ie could a machine label be duplicated by anodizing an aluminum blank and burning off the appropriate pattern from the anodizing???
I buy anodized aluminum business card blanks off Amazon


Laser does a great job on them. This one has been in my wallet for a while and is scratched up.:

image0.jpeg
 
So would it be possible to recreate labels such as those pictured below using a laser engraver? I don't know what other people do when they are restoring old equipment but I find a repaint/refinish pretty much requires old labels to be removed. Painting around an old label just looks tacky. More often than not the old label is very faded and worn anyway. On top of that inevitably they are attached with drive screws which are usually impossible to remove without damaging the label further. So it is almost unavoidable that a new label will be required in a restoration project.

DSC_0126 (2).JPG
 

Susquatch

Ultra Member
Administrator
Moderator
Premium Member
On top of that inevitably they are attached with drive screws which are usually impossible to remove without damaging the label further.

I've never had any trouble drilling them out. I just use a hand punch to make a center and then drill them out with a pilot drill first and then bigger till they are out. The biggest problem is finding the right size drive screw, so I often tap the hole and add a regular stubby screw. It's the one and only time I ever use flat blade screws. For some reason they look better for plates.
 

historicalarms

Ultra Member
Sure looks to me that Whynot has the perfect solution to the top slide adjustment scales that are causing so much aggravation in the other thread
 

YYCHM

(Craig)
Premium Member
I must have missed that thread Dave, can you post a link?
 

whydontu

I Tried, It Broke
Premium Member
So would it be possible to recreate labels such as those pictured below using a laser engraver? I don't know what other people do when they are restoring old equipment but I find a repaint/refinish pretty much requires old labels to be removed. Painting around an old label just looks tacky. More often than not the old label is very faded and worn anyway. On top of that inevitably they are attached with drive screws which are usually impossible to remove without damaging the label further. So it is almost unavoidable that a new label will be required in a restoration project.

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Absolutely. You’d need to find anodized aluminum in the thickness you want, or go down the path of doing your own anodizing (on my project list at #42). If Iget a minute I’ll see if I can make a sample of the Kurt label.
 

whydontu

I Tried, It Broke
Premium Member
Test prints. Print #1 is just your photo, Print #2 is a mockup using a Kurt logo I got off Google Images and a few minutes laying out the text.

Caveats:

The business card blanks I used are crap, cost a few cents each, have a brushed finish, and aren't flat. So because I didn't spend any time making sure the card was flat on the laser table, the lines are crooked where the card is bowed. Also the anodizing is blue, and the blue laser reflects more than would on black anodizing, so the etch isn't very deep. But certainly doable if some more time and care is applied.

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Looks VERY promising! But man do I have a lot of questions. Newbie dumb questions probably. Like what kind of software did you use to create these printable files? And what file format is required by a laser engraver?
 

whydontu

I Tried, It Broke
Premium Member
Looks VERY promising! But man do I have a lot of questions. Newbie dumb questions probably. Like what kind of software did you use to create these printable files? And what file format is required by a laser engraver?
For the laser, I use a paid program called Lightburn. The freeware software LaserGRBL came with the machine and is pretty simple. Both can read most types of graphics files, like jpegs, png, bmp, pdf, svg, and also dxf. The software converts the image files into g-code for the engraver.

I mocked up the label using my iPad sketch program, but I could have just as easily done it in Paint on a PC.

I just start up Lightburn and open a jpg file. The screen widow shows the extents of my engraver platform, drag and drop the image where I want it, type in the length and width of the desired finished object. Software scales the image to fit. Lots of image manipulation options.
 
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