Use of laser cutter


#1

Hi guys. I am in need to do a bit of prototyping for my borderland dream. Mainly now is to decide the diameter of the holes I need to mount LEDs in a plexiglas board. Im having the actual cutting done elsewhere (its a 1x1m board and I think that wont fit in the cutter Tau has, correct me if Im wrong). So its basically a serie of holes in a 3mm plexiglas board; 8mm, 9mm, 10mm, 10.1mm 10.2 mm 10.3mm, 10.4mm, 10.5mm, 10.6mm, 10.7mm, 10.8mm, 10.9mm, 11mm, 11.1mm and 11.2mm.
A few questions:

  1. Is the lasercutter in working order right now?
  2. Would someone be able to help me with this?
    3 I plan to add 3 months membership in my dream grant to be able to work at Tau. What do I need to start using the lasercutter by myself?

/Björn


#2

We haven’t tested it since it was moved here.
Do you have any experience working with laser cutters?
We have a room ready for it, but it needs to be carefully moved there and then probably serviced a bit.

If anyone could have a look at it, we could pay them to service it and get it up and running again.

Ping @hampus


#3

Is there any current progress on the laser cutter or will be (that we know for certain)?

  1. Should I make a request to Stockholm Makerspace Facebook and ask if someone can make it operational? If yes what payment can we offer? I also have other places I can ask.

Tagging @Ollxor @hampus and @hugi!

  1. Should we simply invest in the smaller one that Folk Lab, Goto10 and Carl Bärstad has experience with? It’s 50k. Good having one where we know theres plenty of people that can service it.

  2. What and who do we need in order to get ventilation running for permanent use?

Having a laser cutter is a big reason for being at Tau (I include myself in that category). So, happy to help make it happen.


#4

I have somewhat knowledge on how to make it operational. I think it could be maybe two days of work for 1.5 persons to move it into a new room, put the pieces together, calibrate et.c. ±1 day of troubleshooting.

Plus time to making a material storage, making holes in walls for fume exhaust et.c.

I have a access to a laser already so thereby not so motivated to get this one moving. But happy to help at least in planning stages. Could meet up next week and make assesments and plan with people interested.

Instead of buying a new much less useful machine for 40k it would be worth paying someone to work with it if there are no volunteers. We should consider also buying a new laser tube. The cureent one works but is well beyond best before date, and propably the effect is much lower than in a fresh tube.


#5

Great!

Do we know which tube we need? If yes, let’s add it to the Tau inventory sheet.

Do we need a new Pc or can a Mac run it?

Do we know people that are already interested in this? I suppose myself and…

I think, if we want to attract people to Blivande and Tau having an operational laser cutter is a must.

You would probably lead this @Ollxor as you have the most experience. Lets decide when we meet if we think its feasible for us to do it or we hire someone!


#6

Sorry for the late reply @jonasjohansson! I was glad to see you post about this as personal initiative is the only thing that will push Studio Tau along towards being fully operational, living up to its potential and promise.

We have several people experienced with laser cutters but the current limitation is the lack of a room with proper ventilation. We can however - now that it’s summer - get away with temporarily working with an open window allowing for an exhaust tube to be pulled out. I’ve been informed today by @hugi that @annielocke and David Giertta are working on getting the laser cutter up and running as its needed for the BL Temple build. Best would be to join forces with them so as to speed up that process.

I’m personally strongly in favor of having both our laser cutter and a CNC that I’m also working on getting here placed inside a container. This would side-step the whole permit question around ventilation holes in the facade as well as free up much needed space in Tau for other things . It would also of course make the operations more mobile as we could for example move a CNC to BL and other events of interest and relevance. Perhaps in collaboration with the STEAMobile of Folk Lab and so on and so forth.

On this note I will contact Containertjänst tomorrow and see if we can quickly invest in a 20" container for this purpose. It would be placed 100 m2 from the Tau entrance where there is already an existing 62A power outlet. In a month or two we might end up having it placed even closer to us on the Containerville parking lot (Frihamnstorget) that we’re about to build in collaboration with Stockholms Hamnar. Just across the street from House Blivande.

David Giertta has serviced the laser before and has agreed to do this for us here in the future (if we pay him). I fully agree that the laser cutter is vital to Tau and personally think that its service and maintenance should be professionalized based on the experiences from Stugan. We should also implement some kind of course in how to use it, held regularly so all interested members can be educated in its basic operation and maintenance. To be clear I’m stating this opinion as a fellow member of Tau and not a Blivande representative. If you after your meeting conclude that you do want to take this on yourselves (the continuous service and maintenance) then I of course will not object to that but rather applaud it.


#7

This would indeed be an ideal solution. But done is better than perfect, so I want to clarify for the benefit of @annielocke that unless the have a container ready when you want to get the laser cutter operational later this week, we will get it running indoors. Hampus and I discussed it, and we have changed our minds about moving it to the room I showed you today – rather we will keep it in the flex room and run it there this summer,. There is a window we can open for the ventilation right next to it.


#8

I’ve today written to Containertjänst asking for a quote on an insulated 20’ container where we could install the laser cutter and potentially also the future CNC.

In any case the laser cutter will most likely be temporarily installed in the Tau Project/Flex room next week, assuming David is available to do the work.

Our newest Tau member @Linus is also very interested to be a part of this team of @annielocke, @jonasjohansson, @Ollxor and David Giertta. Good going! Let’s make it finally happen…


#9

Great Hampus!

Yes, I would very much like to help out with the laser cutter and use it. I have had a decent amount of experience in cutting cardboard, mdf and plywood and the process of preparing the files in Illustrator etc. I lack however experience in maintenance work of the machine but am eager to learn that. I also have some experience of preparing files for CNC so will be happy to be part of that also in the future.

Let me know what your plans are for installment, I have time next week to help out.


#10

Just letting you know that we now have a first quote on an insulated 20’ container. 29 500 SEK is the first offer. I’m shopping around a bit and aim to have at least ordered a container in a week’s time from today.


#11

A somewhat delayed report here now from last week’s laser cutter installation session:

David Giertta was here at Blivande to start the process of getting our beloved laser cutter up and running again. He quickly ran into problems due to the fact that vital components are missing. They were last seen by @gustaf when the machine was moved from Stugan to Tau, packed into a white IKEA drawer/hurts. Looking a bit like this: https://www.ikea.com/PIAimages/0087723_PE217289_S5.JPG

I believe I have seen the piece of furniture lying around, and oddly enough some of the components we did find was stuff that used to be packed with the other stuff. So it seems someone might have emptied this white drawer spreading things around.

MISSING:

  • Z-axle motor + chain (like a motorcycle chain)
  • Keys (!)
  • Software dongle (!!!)
  • Rubber lining for tube cradles
  • Handle for door

NEEDED PURCHASES:

  • 8- 10 liters of battery water for chiller
  • Cleaning supplies (rags, microfibre cloth, Ajax etc)
  • Isopropanol
  • Acetone

REMAINS TO BE DONE:

  • Install laser tube (it’s very old + dirty and thus weak. No longer powered at the original 60 w. Hasn’t been well taken care of/used with proper caution)
  • Install chiller (cooler?)
  • Calibrate laser beam
  • Sort ventilation
  • Print and laminate rules, tips, guidelines
  • Check and mark lenses
  • Install air assist
  • Fix hatch locks
  • Fix door hinge

@jonasjohansson @Ollxor when did you last see this white hurts/drawer? Was it something that you emptied/moved out when you cleared out the Electronics room? Has anyone else seen it? Not to be confused with the identical drawer owned by Katarina and that is standing on the main mounting room with her supplies.

All in all it looks a bit grim for our laser cutter. The keys and the dongle are both quite expensive, not to mention a new laser tube with could cost 15-20 KSEK. Even if we get this machine operational its quite worn down and with the existing laser tube it won’t be able to cut through thicker pieces of plywood and so on like it used to. I think we should consider leasing a new one, even though that will set us back quite a bit economically.

Also tagging @Bjorn, @Linus and @antonfrisk


#12

I believe I have seen this drawer in the Electronics room as I was rearranging the space. It was moved to the Flex room with no contents removed.

First, that’s a very well written post and thorough check on the state of the laser cutter. Lots of information for us to make an informed decision moving forward.

So, ideas:

  1. We have a laser cutter at Beckmans which also requires some patching up but likely much less than this one. I know that we want to get rid of it (or fix it, but that is unlikely to happen soon).

I can connect David or Hampus or someone else who knows what to look for and just give it a look… I think we could get it cheapish.

  1. We invest in the FabLabFactory one, the largest we can find from them, or a similar model from another dealer. It’s about 5k euro, obviously not as great as we want but “done better than perfect”?

  2. We contact the Laser cutter dealers, what are their names again, Inducta? And see if they have any we can come by?

  3. We contact Stockholm Makerspace and see if they have any clues, we are not really competing are we but sharing global vision so perhaps we need some insights?

  4. We reach out to Håkan Lidbo and Rumtiden, I know they have a lot of materials and specialists, maybe they know of some laser cutters lying around…

If this was a old car that broke down (with parts scattered around and new parts being quite expensive plus needing specialists to install), we would probably get a newer and smaller immediately :slight_smile:


#13

Good stuff Jonas!

Flex room being the room where the laser cutter is standing today? Aka “the project room”. I’ve looked around for it and haven’t found it yet which is worrisome.

  1. Laser cutter at Beckmans sounds very interesting! Please investigate further. We need model name and other basic info like that. I personally know very little of laser cutters so the info here is all second-hand information given to me by David Gierttta (who has promised to join this forum, will poke him again).

  2. Do you know how it compares to the one you have at Beckmans? Sounds like a good alternative if not, but David is the expert here so I would like to hear his advice on it.

  3. Absolutely, we should do this regardless to get an update on the market. We also know one person (Petra) whose father imports CNCs and I believe also laser cutters to Sweden.

  4. Sure, why not. Do you want to do this?

  5. Again, can’t see why not!

I agree with you on the car analogy. Best case this laser cutter would be a kind of backup or used to run parallell tasks when the demand is high. Alternatively we get a stronger and bigger one (with less precision) for the heavy duty stuff and keep this weaker on for the more finer tasks.


#14
  1. OK, I have sent to Erik at Beckmans who has the info and responsibility, will share if/when I learn more. The one at Beckmans have never been in use. It was purchased, then no one used it, now still no one really knows and something is broken :slight_smile: The glass tube likely. It’s the same model as the one at Stockholm Makerspace. I don’t know more, just - that I want it gone and replaced with one that works.
  2. https://www.fablabfactory.com/en/fslaser-h20x12-bundle.html this one!
  3. Great, will you reach out to her?
  4. I can write a post in their Facebook group and see if anyone has leads!
  5. I can do that as well!

#15

Hi all! Finally got my act together and joined the forum.

First off; yeah, I had a go at installing the laser cutter. Lots of bit missing, as summed up in the list in Hampus´ post above. I am sure that the Z-axis motor is not far gone, and the other bit easily replaced, EXCEPT the software dongle. This bit caused me a bit of sorrow. When the machine was still at Ateljé Stugan this was stolen along with the laptop next to the laser. I invested time and money in getting a new one, and now this new one seems to have gone missing too. The controller card in this laser uses a specific software, Lasercut 5.3, that requires this dongle. The choice is now to either buy yet another dongle from china (1000kr, one month of waiting) or get another controller card (est. 3500kr plus a heapload of research in what model and probably quite a lot of tweaking). A new controller would then be one not requiring a dongle at all.

Second: To be weighed in the reasoning around getting the laser operational again is the estimation of how much power the old tube has left to give. It was rated at 80W when new, Given the quite hard use at Stugan towards the end I’d say we probably have 40W now. Surprisingly, a new one from China, preferably of the brand RECI, is only about 5000kr.

So, completely possible to both get needed parts and beef up the power, but will require a lot of hours of work. I can do much of it, but would love if I was accompanied by another tech wiz with some knowledge on the topic. Need to check that the power supply is compatible with the proposed cathode tube, new controller compatible with the stepper motors etc.

If we are looking at getting another laser cutter, there are a fair few choices. Getting one directly from China is by far the cheapest, but even doing research let alone getting offers thru AliExpress is opening a can of worms. There is a plethora of machines, controllers, manufacturers etc. A 120cm x 90 cm, 120W machine should cost around 60-90k kr. There are cheaper options, but you almost always end up with some drawback, like the laser power not being controlled by software, shit precision etc.

Another choice in getting a new machine is going thru the handful of Swedish companies selling china machines they imported, sometimes rebranded, and checked for quality. This would give us a warranty, some service agreement, and the possibility of a leasing deal. I have dealt with Indukta previously, good guys and trustworthy. My assessment is that you end up paying about 110k for a machine that would have cost 60k if you imported yourself.

There are also the desktop laser segment, like the FabFactory one linked above, or the kickstarter-funded GlowForge. These are great in terms of usability and operational ease. They take little space too. Alas, if we have the kind intended use I suspect, the power and size will not be enough. I gather that there will be a lot of people not just doing small models and engravings, but more people wanting to cut crazy constructions out of plywood and acrylic.

Regarding power: My experience is that more power is not always a good thing. Sure you can cut thicker material, but at the expense of precision. The 80W machine we have can do beautiful fine cuts ad dead-on precision, both mechanical and in laser power. The 150W machine from Indukta I have been using was both a bit flimsy mechanically, but foremost the laser tube would not fire under a certain power, so that fine engravings would thus suffer in detail and contrast.

My bet would be to look around for used lasers, or consider importing one from china.

Also, as a side note, I would try to steer the general use of lasercutting towards more prototyping and aesthetic projects rather than full-scale manufacture and huge projects demanding lots from the machine. For example, one can instead of making all the plywood parts for a construction by the lasercutter, instead cut a router template/jig and route the multiple pieces.


#16

Yeah, a few things to add to my chunk of text.
Indukta seems to have steered away from lasers, and now focus on textile production machines. However giving Anders at Indukta a call could be good, they might have connections or machines they want to get rid of.

Another variable, especially when it comes to used machines, Synrad laser tubes give lots more power at a lower wattage, 25W Synrad laser beats a 100W china co2 laser any day.


#17

At Beckmans we have:

“Redsail 1390x tror jag alt. bara 1390 finns spec på indukta / cncmachines hemsida. Samt vid intresse filter/röksug som kostat säkert 15’000-20’000kr.”

“Nytt nätaggregat går att köpa från indukta.”

This is the one at Beckmans.

I agree with David that looking around for a local options or investing time in a China deal - I prefer the local option as it seems there are few tech laser wiz (I am not one of them, but I wouldn’t mind learning and investing time in understanding it a bit further - I am reasonably technically skilled I’d say - just inexperienced).

If we have the funds, going with a trusted source with warranty and technical personell is to me a much better option than spending countless hours on finding an imported version with lots of uncertainties.

Also agree that we should encourage clever use of laser cutting and for larger projects simply use traditional tool which are in many ways superior in terms of precision. I use laser cutting mostly for cutting specific patterns or through hole design.

Even with a smaller laser cutter you can do large things, just a bit of LEGO :slight_smile:

@DavidGiertta also props for using your name as an account handle!!!

If you are curious about the one at Beckmans I’d love to have you over to look at it. And to meet with the person who is in charge of it currently.


#18

Great to have you here in the forum @DavidGiertta!

@hugi will have to update us on the financial viability/scope of possibility. Would it be an option for Beckmans that we take ownership of the laser cutter in exchange for fixing it and giving Beckman students free access to it when needed? Would also free up space for Beckman’s which I assume is not unlimited.

I would love to learn more about laser cutting in general and would be available as an enthusiastic assistant and fluffer to you, David. :slight_smile:

Given the unexpectedly lower price of the laser tube I would think it wise to do one final scan of Blivande to look for the missing dongle and if it’s nowhere to be found get a new one along with a new tube. 6 KSEK seems reasonable enough. But of course the time invested also comes at a price so it’s completely reliant on David wanting to lead the effort.

I will contact Petra and ask her about her father.


#19

It’s certainly possible for us to spend a substantial sum on a laser cutter, though it needs to be weighed against a CNC and other machines. Throw me some ballpark numbers for different options and and I’ll have a look. Go both high and low - an option if it’s more expensive than we can afford to cash right now is to go to the bank for a lease for example.


#20

@hampus The parts from the “hurts” is in a white ikea box in the electronics room marked “lasercutter”, placed there by @MariaEuler. There are probably also parts in different places that has been moved around by different people. Some are in the photo room i’m pretty sure.

A quick search for 100w laser tube on aliexpress tells me around 5-7k inc shipping. I dunno what you get with a 20k tube that you dont get with this though but maybe @DavidGiertta does.