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tossedman

Laser cutter

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Is anyone using a laser cutter? I'm attempting to get one for my school and was curious as to how they're being used.

 

Cheers eh,

 

Todd

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cteno4   

Oooh I want one badly! But I've not even dived into the silhouette cutter much at all due to time. I want to do sankei type building and larger modern buildings that have a lot of regular square cuts that are impossible to do perfectly by hand or faking it. A friend with a larger one did up to 1/48 scale arcitectural models with his very successfully for years for high end houses. Then the big 3D printers came along and ruined that business.

 

Jeff

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Found this video today. Interesting stuff. Posted by the same company that makes the laser cutter we're looking at.

 

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utrainia   

I built one, basically a copy of the emblaser, a 3w blue laser cutter. It is my number one tool, I love it so much. Use it for all sorts of railway jobs. Bricks, platforms, tunnel portals, retaining walls, buildings, carriages even.

 

Here is a small N scale office building I made with mine:

2b2a903f38bc4b1ba939ab5f3f7cf049-1000.jp

 

And here are my platforms and a small station building:

02a56b00a507b03ef342d777f6ad7396-1000.jp

 

Tunnels:

613775c76585fe89b5001a8766bdcfa7-1000.jp

 

And for the ultimate in tiny: N scale cold frames for my N scale veges!

post-1728-14809280061729_thumb.jpg

 

Even a little 3w laser is extremely useful, just buy that laser cutter already, you won't regret it :)

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cteno4   

Utrainia,

 

Very cool! What sort of materials and thicknesses can you do with the 3w blue laser?

 

Jeff

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utrainia   

Thanks. My usual materials are:

 

Think Matt photo paper, about 0.3mm thick. Very easy to cut and has great strength. Takes paint well. Use this for window mullions and hand rails, easily able to cut 0.5mm wide mullions.

 

0.5mm cardboard, cuts very easily as well and useful for building up details.

 

Cereal packet cardboard, useful for testing before cutting more expensive materials. Got a plentiful supply of this!

 

Matte board for picture framing. Got a whole lot of offcuts from a picture framer for free :) a bit harder to cut, takes 4 passes with the laser but end result is very nice. Has excellent strength and paints well too. Often used for buildings and structural elements.

 

0.8mm balsa and basswood. Good for when you need real wood. Balsa cuts very easily, basswood takes a bit more effort but comes up nicely. Great for engraving in planks in floors.

 

1/32" Taskboard, a bit expensive but cuts really nicely with just a single pass with less edge burn than other materials. Doesn't peel apart and delaminate like regular cardboard can. Used it for the Cobol building.

 

1.5mm cardboard from the back of writing pads. Hard to cut, but engraved very well. I used it for my tunnel portals, engraving in the brick pattern from a grey scale brick image. Then sealed and painting it, before grouting with watered down plaster.

 

My laser won't do MDF or ply sadly, they are just too dense and just char rather than cut. It won't do anything to acrylic either. Luckily the local library has a 50c per minute laser cutting service for all my serious cutting needs :)

 

Hope that helps. Basically it does most cardboards and some thin woods. For N scale that is often plenty though.

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Wow the lighted up sign is really cool! This spells an infinite amount of designs that can be adopted, including those flashy LED lightings that are so common in Japan!

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We're looking at an 80w laser cutter. Just need to jump through some more red tape hoops to get it ordered.

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cteno4   

80w! Wow todd that's a zapper!

 

Utrainia, how did you cut the lighted sign letters? Assuming it's cut acrylic with a backlight? But the light almost looks like EL inside them. Really well done!

 

Thanks, now I'm not so hesitant about the low power machines as that the sort of stuff I want to cut!

 

Have you done any thin stryenes?

 

How much burning do you get on the edges of the colored photo boards?

 

DOH! It never occurred to me to ask for cut offs from our local framer! I use to raid the local plastics house scrap barrel before they got paid for recycling thier scrap!

 

Jeff

Edited by cteno4

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utrainia   

Hi Jeff, haven't tried thin styrene though I suspect it will just melt and release bad gasses.

 

The raised Cobol letters are cast epoxy: I laser cut the letters, made a mold from that, then cast the epoxy resin into that. They are then lit with some blue LEDs. Construction photos on my blog: http://www.utrainia.com/152-the-cobol-building

 

Edge burn in matte board: yes there is some, but not too much and it cleans off with just a luck of sand paper.

 

Eg these servo mounts are laser cut picture board, some edge char but not enough to be a problem.

 

73763ea113387c2f831885adeb437c92-1000.jp

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utrainia   

Have you done any thin stryenes?

 

Just tried some 0.25mm styrene, it mostly melts and smells bad. It does in places cut through, but not amazing quality and mostly melts back together again. So probably best to stick to papers and cardboards... not that you can't do a lot with those :)

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cteno4   

Yeah I think it needs to be hotter to completely vaporize the cut plastic and thus needs a lot of ventilation!

 

Jeff

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medusa   

I think the problem of cutting styrene is about the blue laser light. Is that styrene sheet of white color?

Then try to mark the cutting line with a black or red marker to increase absorption.

 

When laser cuts fail, it's almost always a case of poor energy absorption. For example, a number of people wondered why their fancy 80W CO2 laser can cut plywood, MDF and ordinary wood sheets but not thin metal. Well, metal is an almost perfect reflector for the infrared CO2 laser beam. "Shields up, Scotty." :(

 

Things may be similar with your blue diode laser cutter. Red is a quite good absorber of blue light. Besides, of course, black.

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Thanks. My usual materials are:

 

Think Matt photo paper, about 0.3mm thick. Very easy to cut and has great strength. Takes paint well. Use this for window mullions and hand rails, easily able to cut 0.5mm wide mullions.

 

0.5mm cardboard, cuts very easily as well and useful for building up details.

 

Cereal packet cardboard, useful for testing before cutting more expensive materials. Got a plentiful supply of this!

 

Matte board for picture framing. Got a whole lot of offcuts from a picture framer for free :) a bit harder to cut, takes 4 passes with the laser but end result is very nice. Has excellent strength and paints well too. Often used for buildings and structural elements.

 

0.8mm balsa and basswood. Good for when you need real wood. Balsa cuts very easily, basswood takes a bit more effort but comes up nicely. Great for engraving in planks in floors.

 

1/32" Taskboard, a bit expensive but cuts really nicely with just a single pass with less edge burn than other materials. Doesn't peel apart and delaminate like regular cardboard can. Used it for the Cobol building.

 

1.5mm cardboard from the back of writing pads. Hard to cut, but engraved very well. I used it for my tunnel portals, engraving in the brick pattern from a grey scale brick image. Then sealed and painting it, before grouting with watered down plaster.

 

My laser won't do MDF or ply sadly, they are just too dense and just char rather than cut. It won't do anything to acrylic either. Luckily the local library has a 50c per minute laser cutting service for all my serious cutting needs :)

 

Hope that helps. Basically it does most cardboards and some thin woods. For N scale that is often plenty though.

If you don't mind. I would learn more about your DYI laser cutter. I was hoping you had a blog on your website about building it, but I didn't see one. 

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chouw99   

Hey ultrania, do you know how long it took to cut the Cobol building out from your lasercutter? I'm also weighing in on getting a lasercutter as well compared to having someone do the job for me.

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cteno4   

Wow, now that's a laser cutter!

 

Jeff

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Electrical work starts on the 28th. Holidays start two days later so won't get to lay with it for a while.

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Got the cutter unpacked. It's a heavy thing, almost 300 pounds all up. Cutting area is 29 X 17 inches. Might be large enough to do an n scale building eh. Waiting for an electrical upgrade. Needs a 20 A circuit and the room only has 15 A at the moment.

 

med_gallery_922_208_74189.jpg

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cteno4   

ooooohhhh! (read the sound from the three eyed aliens in toy story!)

 

thats a very big toy! i think you win!

 

check out taskboard. pretty nice stuff for lasercutting.

 

jeff

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Gotta find a Canadian supplier for task board Jeff. It looks interesting.

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cteno4   

Neat stuff. It's pretty stiff and looks to cut well with the laser cutter with low singeing. Not as stiff as the heavy resin laser boards, but those are more expensive. It cuts well with matte and xacto knifes and you can form it with moisture as well to do curved surfaces and it retains the shape when it dries.

 

I'll see if my friend in California still has info on some of his heavier laser board suppliers, he use to do a lot of laser cutting for architectural models (before 3d printers ruined that market). There were some nifty stocks at has different core colors so you could etch the surface and get new color. Like red surface and then white core so you could cut brick pattern and etch pattern then was white mortar. Great for sidings, roof surfaces, etc.

 

Wish i could find the stuff sankei uses. Really is superb.

 

Now you just need to get your students designing 1:150 buildings!

 

Jeff

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Posted (edited)

Yeah, the nice thing about designing on the computer is that you can scale it up or down to any size. Just need to work out how to do the joints between walls.

 

Might have to try to whip up a T-Trak module or two as well.

Edited by tossedman

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cteno4   

Hey get a club going with the students!

 

Sankei is a good model to follow with its layering and interlocking rabit joints.

 

Also just using square or L styrene stock works to make a nice corner joint. Layering is the key to strengthening walls and giving all those edge details (and coloring) on openings as well.

 

You is gunna have fun!

 

Jeff

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