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Laser Engraving

Chris Cramer

Super User
Vendor
Premium Member
I Just purchased the new XTool D1 Pro 20W diode laser engraver. The tool works great for engraving, but I was a bit disappointed in the 20W module when it could not cut the 3/8" hard wood that I use for my knife handles. The 20W module does have enough power to engrave stainless steel which is the primary purpose I bought it for to add more creativity to my knife blades and maybe the handles. Xtool has released a 40W module which I'm thinking could cut harder wood and knife handle material. That would make work much more efficient; but the cost for that module is close to the price of the 20W D1 pro all together.
 

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DavidR8

Scrap maker
Administrator
Moderator
Premium Member
Nice work.
You can engrave aluminum if you spray it with zinc galvanizing.
 

Tom O

Ultra Member
I’ve been watching a lot of those vids lately but I’m still undecided I have however picked up a little one of marketplace for $100.00 to try out stuff once I figure out what software works with ardwino.
IMG_0956.jpeg
 

whydontu

I Tried, It Broke
Premium Member
I’ve been watching a lot of those vids lately but I’m still undecided I have however picked up a little one of marketplace for $100.00 to try out stuff once I figure out what software works with ardwino.
View attachment 39669

I have one of the small laser engravers, Jinsoku LE-1620. I use two pieces of software (Windows10) : LaserGRBL and Lightburn. LaserGRBL is freeware, it’s OK for simple stuff and easy to use. Lightburn is $70 US, much more sophisticated and far more flexible. Either one will work fine with the GRBL Arduino interfaces.
 

Johnwa

Ultra Member
I Just purchased the new XTool D1 Pro 20W diode laser engraver. The tool works great for engraving, but I was a bit disappointed in the 20W module when it could not cut the 3/8" hard wood that I use for my knife handles. The 20W module does have enough power to engrave stainless steel which is the primary purpose I bought it for to add more creativity to my knife blades and maybe the handles. Xtool has released a 40W module which I'm thinking could cut harder wood and knife handle material. That would make work much more efficient; but the cost for that module is close to the price of the 20W D1 pro all together.
Theres some discussion on marking stainless by applying various coatings first. https://forum.makerforums.info/t/marking-stainless-steel-with-a-diode-secret-formulae/85294/12
 

Janger

(John)
Vendor
Premium Member
I Just purchased the new XTool D1 Pro 20W diode laser engraver. The tool works great for engraving, but I was a bit disappointed in the 20W module when it could not cut the 3/8" hard wood that I use for my knife handles. The 20W module does have enough power to engrave stainless steel which is the primary purpose I bought it for to add more creativity to my knife blades and maybe the handles. Xtool has released a 40W module which I'm thinking could cut harder wood and knife handle material. That would make work much more efficient; but the cost for that module is close to the price of the 20W D1 pro all together.
That's pretty interesting Chris. I've been looking at the videos on those. I'm going to have to come and see it. A few questions. You know me. I have questions what a surprise.

Can you cut 3/8" hardwood with more passes? Are you using air assist?

Will it engrave copper? Maybe with a spray coat of something?

Will it cut any metal at all? What about aluminium foil? Be careful - I'm not sure the glasses they provide are actually good enough. You might investigate this and buy good laser safety glasses - I think they are expensive $500. A glancing reflection (like that knife you are engraving) will cause permanent eye damage. An opaque convenient hinged lid is a good idea.

EDIT-> Some youtubers dismiss this concern but they are wrong. Probability vs consequences. A low likelihood of occurrence with extremely bad consequences (permanent blindness) is a high risk. Industrial machines always have enclosures. Experimental physics is littered with blinded scientists from lab laser accidents.

The laser power is important but the power / laser dot size area is a better measurement. e.g. Power divided by laser dot area.
20W / (1mm *1mm) = 20W/mm^2. Contrasted that with
10W / (0.25mm*0.25mm) = 40W/mm^2.

So a less powerful laser with a more focused dot is actually more powerful.

A change in wavelength/frequency is also another approach. There is an infrared laser from one of those vendors and it has less watts but seems to cut wood more effectively.

Show us more!
 
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Tom O

Ultra Member
I have one of the small laser engravers, Jinsoku LE-1620. I use two pieces of software (Windows10) : LaserGRBL and Lightburn. LaserGRBL is freeware, it’s OK for simple stuff and easy to use. Lightburn is $70 US, much more sophisticated and far more flexible. Either one will work fine with the GRBL Arduino interfaces.
Thanks I’ll give the GRBL a try if it works out ok I’ll look at lightburn who knows the Grandaughter will probably bang on the door She’s been asking about it as She does wood burning.
 

Chris Cramer

Super User
Vendor
Premium Member
I have one of the small laser engravers, Jinsoku LE-1620. I use two pieces of software (Windows10) : LaserGRBL and Lightburn. LaserGRBL is freeware, it’s OK for simple stuff and easy to use. Lightburn is $70 US, much more sophisticated and far more flexible. Either one will work fine with the GRBL Arduino interfaces.
That was one of my first arduino projects after got my plasma table. The gantry was easy enough to make with stepper motors, but the module I had could only engrave soft material like wood.
 

Chris Cramer

Super User
Vendor
Premium Member
The laser power is important but the power / laser dot size area is a better measurement. e.g. Power divided by laser dot area.
20W / (1mm *1mm) = 20W/mm^2. Contrasted that with
10W / (0.25mm*0.25mm) = 40W/mm^2.

So a less powerful laser with a more focused dot is actually more powerful.

A change in wavelength/frequency is also another approach. There is an infrared laser from one of those vendors and it has less watts but seems to cut wood more effectively.
Yeah, this machine does have a pretty simple focusing system. I cant remember what the focus was when I was trying to cut resin infused birch made for knives. I tried to cut it with 100% power at, I think a speed of 20. It did not go deep at all. I should try it again focussed at 1mm.
The infrared module would engrave metal much better because the ir wavelength is absorbed by the metal where polished metal reflects a high quantity of visible light. 20 watts is enough to engrave stainless without spray by high heat. I ordered some spray for laser engraving metal like stainless, aluminum, and copper; but that will simply leave a highly visible black mark, where I do like the idea of oxidizing the surface to bring up other colors for decorative purposes.
 

Chris Cramer

Super User
Vendor
Premium Member
I ordered the 2 oz Cermark ultra laser marking aerosol off Amazon. I was looking at the Brilliance Laser ink which is much cheaper, but the reviews are not good. Every laser metal marking compound I have found online only marks the metal with a permanent black mark. Only glass marking compounds have different colors. Black would still be useful for marking text and logos but not as much for decoration when it is difficult to control the contrast even at lower power.
 

Arbutus

Super User
Premium Member
Zinc primer spray on aluminum and stainless seems to work for marking. The actual effective power from these LED systems is nothing close to the cutting power of the equivalent CO2 laser.

The 20W LED modules are great at engraving, but not cutting. I'm still trying to relate LED power to CO2 power, while filtering out the Amazoom vendors' ridiculous power claims. I like the watts/sq mm relationship which makes much more sense than the raw input energy as a measure of cutting effectiveness.

After looking at laser heads, cooling, ventilation, power and control systems, the CO2 option is 4 to 5 times more expensive at the 20W level, but it actually cuts. The biggest downside for me is the size of the CO2 tubes and their care & feeding, with a relatively limited lifespan.
 

DavidR8

Scrap maker
Administrator
Moderator
Premium Member
After looking at laser heads, cooling, ventilation, power and control systems, the CO2 option is 4 to 5 times more expensive at the 20W level, but it actually cuts. The biggest downside for me is the size of the CO2 tubes and their care & feeding, with a relatively limited lifespan.
The smallest CO2 laser I'd buy would be 50 watts. Anything else just doesn't feel like it's worth the effort. Agree their size is a challenge.
 

Janger

(John)
Vendor
Premium Member
Zinc primer spray on aluminum and stainless seems to work for marking. The actual effective power from these LED systems is nothing close to the cutting power of the equivalent CO2 laser.

The 20W LED modules are great at engraving, but not cutting. I'm still trying to relate LED power to CO2 power, while filtering out the Amazoom vendors' ridiculous power claims. I like the watts/sq mm relationship which makes much more sense than the raw input energy as a measure of cutting effectiveness.

After looking at laser heads, cooling, ventilation, power and control systems, the CO2 option is 4 to 5 times more expensive at the 20W level, but it actually cuts. The biggest downside for me is the size of the CO2 tubes and their care & feeding, with a relatively limited lifespan.
A 20W CO2 laser that cuts. Ok that is appealing. Will it also engrave perhaps requiring a spray - Cermark - or galv spray? @Arbutus what machines have you found that seem reasonable.?

One point with the zinc spray - will cutting or marking through that produce fumes causing "Metal fume fever"? i.e. similar to welding galvanized steel which is hazardous. I have read laser/plasma cutting many materials forms toxic smoke/fumes so due care is needed.
 
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Chris Cramer

Super User
Vendor
Premium Member
The actual effective power from these LED systems is nothing close to the cutting power of the equivalent CO2 laser.
CO2 lasers, fiber lasers, and solid-state lasers are only realy designed for cutting, because you don't have much control over the optical power output. Unless a smaller tube is installed it would only ever cut the material. Diode lasers like these modules built with multiple diodes give you 100% control over the output of the laser making it useful for etching, engraving, and a bit of cutting. I'm more eager to purchase the ir module, because I found that the 20w module could easily cut a 3/8" resin blank wherever it was dark but the white parts were not cut completely, because of reflection.
 

DavidR8

Scrap maker
Administrator
Moderator
Premium Member
CO2 lasers, fiber lasers, and solid-state lasers are only realy designed for cutting, because you don't have much control over the optical power output. Unless a smaller tube is installed it would only ever cut the material. Diode lasers like these modules built with multiple diodes give you 100% control over the output of the laser making it useful for etching, engraving, and a bit of cutting. I'm more eager to purchase the ir module, because I found that the 20w module could easily cut a 3/8" resin blank wherever it was dark but the white parts were not cut completely, because of reflection.
That’s not entirely correct. Using Lightburn you can control the laser output of a CO2 or diode laser. I’ve owned both diode an an CO2 and had no problem engraving with a 40w CO2 laser.
 

trevj

Ultra Member
I had some training and ran a Laser engraver at my last workplace, though, sadly, I cannot recall the brand. Commercial unit, fourth axis, and about a 40K touch delivered... A bit over a 2x2 foot work area, and fully enclosed, with maybe six or so inches capable of headroom under the work head.

We ran about 300 glass drinking glasses through it on the fourth axis, engraving a crest and commemorative dates for a large function. I don't really know what else it was eventually used for, as at that time, I was about to retire, on medically restricted work hours, and some genius decided to move me from the shop I was in for the prior six years, and throw me into a place that I knew very little of their actual meat and potatoes work (stripping and repainting F-18's).

Best safety sign ever! "Do not look at the LASER with your remaining eye!"

For knifemaking, it occurs that you could get really creative with etching, using the laser to burn away the resist. Spend some time playing in a vector graphic software like Inkscape and burn a negative of your image on the parts you wanted etched, eh?
 

Chris Cramer

Super User
Vendor
Premium Member
For knifemaking, it occurs that you could get really creative with etching, using the laser to burn away the resist. Spend some time playing in a vector graphic software like Inkscape and burn a negative of your image on the parts you wanted etched, eh?
Yeah I discovered how Inkscape can trace the outline of a picture and convert it to a dxf file. That is required to use the plasma table to cut or mark a decorative image; however, most laser engraving platforms don't require a CAM program to first process a dxf to G code. Inserted images are converted to a black and white appearance that is engraved by heat/oxidation.
 

trevj

Ultra Member
Yeah I discovered how Inkscape can trace the outline of a picture and convert it to a dxf file. That is required to use the plasma table to cut or mark a decorative image; however, most laser engraving platforms don't require a CAM program to first process a dxf to G code. Inserted images are converted to a black and white appearance that is engraved by heat/oxidation.
Funny enough, that is exactly how I came across Inkscape, as I was doing a LOT of engraving on a CNC Mill after hours, and was looking for a program capable of tracing a raster image, and converting the results to a vector one!
 
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