Cheap Chinese Laser Engravers are Fun



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Cheap Chinese Laser Engravers are Fun

Postby culturejam » Tue Aug 29, 2017 9:25 pm

Been having fun with an Eleksmaker A5 laser engraver. You can get these on various Chinese sites (BangGood, DealBest, etc) for about $150 - $175 if you get a coupon code. I went with the 2.5W laser head, but there are several options for wattage.

I mainly got it to see if I could make it useful for engraving powdercoated pedal boxes. I'm glad to report that it works pretty well for that application. :joy:

A couple passes gets it down 95% of the way to the bare metal. And then some 90% isopropyl and a toothbrush gets you another 4%. There a tiny bit of material left over which requires some scraping (dental pick) to remove, but it also kind a looks cool as is (sort of "relic" or oxidized).

There's still some work left to do to get the process optimized and tightened up, but I'm really pleased with the results so far.

Some pics:

Laser in action (here I was testing the feasibility of cutting through painter's tape on a bare box to use as a paint mask):

Image


Powdercoated box, fresh off the laser (no cleanup):

Image


Same box, after cleanup (took about 5 minutes):

Image
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Re: Cheap Chinese Laser Engravers are Fun

Postby Chankgeez » Tue Aug 29, 2017 9:36 pm

Looks pretty good.

I would worry about that last 1%. Adds charm. :cool:
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Re: Cheap Chinese Laser Engravers are Fun

Postby BetterOffShred » Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:37 pm

culturejam wrote:There a tiny bit of material left over which requires some scraping (dental pick) to remove, but it also kind a looks cool as is (sort of "relic" or oxidized).

I think it looks dope man. That's a pretty sweet setup!
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Re: Cheap Chinese Laser Engravers are Fun

Postby MechaGodzilla » Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:53 pm

:drool: :love:
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Re: Cheap Chinese Laser Engravers are Fun

Postby multi_s » Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:09 pm

nice.

my friend use one of these style deals to try the inverse, curing powder to the point that its tacky, blowing off the excess uncured powder, then heating the whole case up to set what remains (the text etc).
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Re: Cheap Chinese Laser Engravers are Fun

Postby culturejam » Wed Aug 30, 2017 3:55 pm

multi_s wrote:nice.

my friend use one of these style deals to try the inverse, curing powder to the point that its tacky, blowing off the excess uncured powder, then heating the whole case up to set what remains (the text etc).

Now *that* is an interesting idea. :thumb:

Does it actually work?
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Re: Cheap Chinese Laser Engravers are Fun

Postby multi_s » Wed Aug 30, 2017 5:29 pm

according to him it works but im not sure how long you need to heat the powder for it to cure, you would probably have to experiment. he was using 1.5watt laser though iirc so same ballpark as you. i mean if you can blast off teh powder than you should have more than enough power to partially cure it imho.


crudely the same concept as a laser printer though no? (:
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Re: Cheap Chinese Laser Engravers are Fun

Postby culturejam » Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:19 pm

multi_s wrote:crudely the same concept as a laser printer though no? (:

Yeah, definitely. My biggest concern would be how to handle keeping the powder on the enclosure while etching. Usually you want to have "air assist" (ie, some kind of positive pressure air flowing across the etching surface) and that might move the powder.
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Re: Cheap Chinese Laser Engravers are Fun

Postby multi_s » Thu Aug 31, 2017 4:47 pm

ya good point but my guess is you only need a low power density on the paint to cure it somewhat, so air assist is not an issue really. from what i understand air assist is a means to get a bit more out of your laser and or get cleaner crisper edges when cutting dense materials like steel etc/ longer laser life due to more efficient use of power etc etc... definitely not an expert though.

i will see if he has any pictures of his results though and post them here.
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Re: Cheap Chinese Laser Engravers are Fun

Postby culturejam » Thu Aug 31, 2017 5:10 pm

Air assist clears the smoke out of the way so it doesn't block/diffuse the laser beam. It also helps with cooling the substrate so it doesn't catch on fire.
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Re: Cheap Chinese Laser Engravers are Fun

Postby multi_s » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:58 pm

ah i was imagining more like nitrogen injected at the laser beam to help cut steel plate or qqc when you said "air assist". like they are talking about here:

http://www.thefabricator.com/article/la ... er-cutting
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Re: Cheap Chinese Laser Engravers are Fun

Postby culturejam » Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:11 am

At the hobby level, it's really just an air pump or fan that keeps the temp down and smoke clear. It might mean something different on an industrial level.
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Re: Cheap Chinese Laser Engravers are Fun

Postby Dr. Sherman Sticks M.D. » Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:28 am

man this looks so cool. pardon my newb but what type of software do u use for something like this?
for making the designs and for "transferring" them (sorry can't think of the right phrasing right now)
is it vectors? like illustrator or more like cad?
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Re: Cheap Chinese Laser Engravers are Fun

Postby culturejam » Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:36 am

Dr. Sherman Sticks M.D. wrote:man this looks so cool. pardon my newb but what type of software do u use for something like this?
for making the designs and for "transferring" them (sorry can't think of the right phrasing right now)
is it vectors? like illustrator or more like cad?

Yeah, basically Illustrator or InkScape or whatever does vector art. But you can also do photo etching, but it takes a bit more setup. Still working that out, but I have other people do amazing stuff that is photo quality. But like, not on pedal boxes. On wood and slate and whatnot.
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Re: Cheap Chinese Laser Engravers are Fun

Postby Dr. Sherman Sticks M.D. » Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:55 am

awesome i can get by on illustrator

so then like how do u get your designs from the vector art to the engraver?
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