A blog post, on time?! Is it an illusion, or am I one miracle closer to sainthood?! (Is there an evil equivalent of a saint?)
I still haven’t posted the November Acquisitions– which ought to be a hell of a post considering I spent $2,500+! –nor the December Acquisitions… (Blame Fallout 4; 130 hours in and I haven’t touched the main storyline. great game!) So just bear with me for a moment!
Yesterday I finally got the stupid exhaust duct out of the laser cutter, having long since removed the original bed. This required that I completely remove the XY table assembly. I wasn’t too keen on doing this, but it turned out that it couldn’t really go back any way but how it was because of the tight tolerances. One interesting thing of note; the holes in the enclosure’s mounting flanges were properly made as part of its construction…but the ones in the XY assembly were very roughly drilled in the steel U-beams with no cleanup, I really don’t get it. It’s like the whole XY assembly was handmade and put into an off-the-shelf machine enclosure. The cut-out in the rear beam for the exhaust was rough-hewn with some manner of saw, too. (And not even deburred!) In a perfect world, I would have taken the XY assembly completely out of the machine and cleaned those up, deburred the edges, and so on…but life’s imperfect.
Anyway, now I have to align the mirrors… I needed to do it anyway because I hadn’t after receiving the unit, but now that I’ve taken the whole bloody carriage out and put it back in, I definitely have to do it. There are some helpful 3D-printable tools for this, which I will link to down below.
After that’s taken care of, I can find the focal point of my laser and that will help me determine how to mount my new honeycomb bed. I ripped out the shitty old bed which was utterly useless, and now with it and the exhaust duct gone, I can cut/engrave basically the entire space within the XY table area… That’s like 12×14 inches, certainly a fair sight better than the 9×12 the machine is supposed to do*, and it sure makes the 12×12 sheets of birch plywood I picked up more useful. (*And the work-holding clamp in the stock bed had a capacity of like 2.5×6 inches or something absurd like that, and you only got the 9×12 if you laid something on TOP of that.)
Though, after everything is back to normal, I’m going to want to install my new air-assist head and high-quality 18mm Zinc-Selenium lens… The air assist will aid in cutting by blowing smoke out of the way of the beam, as well as helping to keep stuff from getting deposited on the lens and mirrors. (And blowing out small flare-ups.) The lens is purported to give a 15-20% increase in power over the regular lenses they were selling, and I’m sure those are already a little better than the stock lens.
Doing that will of course require me to readjust the bed height to account for the new lens height and focal length…but such is life. I don’t want to do all my upgrades at once and then try to figure out why everything’s gone to hell.
Here’s some helpful links for laser cutter users.
- DIY3DTech.com’s K40 Laser Resources Section — Videos and other helpful stuff, including the 3D-printable alignment target holders.
- Sarbar Multimedia’s RDWorks Tutorial Series — Someone on reddit posted about this guy’s 50-watt laser videos, and made a playlist of one of his series of vids.
- /r/lasercutting — Speaking of reddit, this is the relatively young subreddit for lasercutter-related stuff. They tried to make a Chinese laser specific sub too, but it doesn’t seem to have gotten any traction. Anyway, with that recent pricedrop on the K40 lasers, there’s a ton of new owners with more or less my same level of experience, so we’re all helping each other.
- LightObject — For some reason not LightObjects— causing me to constantly have to correct myself –seller of upgrades and accessories for laser cutters.
- Smoothieboard Laser Cutter Guide — The broadstrokes of how to install a Smoothieboard as a replacement for the stock controller in your laser cutter.
- Adventures in DIY Engineering: Chinese Laser Upgrade w/RAMPS — A blog post to get you started with replacing the stock controller in your laser with the much cheaper Arduino-based RAMPS electronics.