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Author Topic: CO2 Laser and also Mach4 questions  (Read 3189 times)

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CO2 Laser and also Mach4 questions
« on: March 27, 2015, 12:17:23 AM »
Hello all I have not been here for some time infact I had to make a new account.

Ok so here are the big questions I have.

I have mach3 and it runs both my cnc router and my 9 X 20 lathe

I am looking to get a Chinese 40w CO2 laser and well I see some that come with moshi and others come with laserdrw from my understanding they are both crap but most of the posts are rather old I know there is a 2014 version of moshi out there. anyways I use coreldraw regularly as well as photoshop and illustrator. So which one would you recommend moshi laser or laserdrw laser. I would love to run it from mach and perhaps will in the future when I decide to tear it apart and mod it and that leads me to my next question running a laser with mach or better yet mach3 and 4 as I have mach 3 and as of right now don't really see any reason to change to mach4 does mach 4 run lasers better than 3 I am looking to do ALOT of raster engraving more so than cutting Im sure I will cut but I am thinking a lot more engraving/raster stuff in the beginning.

I really like being able to set up a job in aspire and all the settings etc does the engrave plugin give you the control that is needed to select an image and lettering etc to engrave or would you have to send multiple jobs from say aspire for the lettering then the engrave plugin for the raster image then say aspire again to profile cut etc. just not sure how it all works as far as the laser plugin goes and jobs etc and I really don't want to have to setup jobs in different programs etc and having to set the work piece and zero in the correct spot etc. I Know I will want or need to do rotary engraving I can build that but not sure about jobs I do it now with my lathe and have the spindle ran by a stepper it really works great and I use aspire to generate the A axis moves from the X axis moves not sure about doing that in the laser Im thinking that I could build a rotary axis and run it as the Xaxis and just output it as X axis since its only going to be moving the laser step over and in aspire just do the math and create my X axis at the right length I don't know will have to play and figure that out.

Also if anyone can help me out with this question that would be great I have some stainless steel that I would like to engrave with the laser I know about the thermark stuff but do the 40w Chinese lasers have enough power to engrave stainless steel with the thermark stuff I would really like to know before I spend the time and money on a laser and the thermark chemical its not cheap. Also can you do grey scale raster engraving with a Chinese laser and the thermark stuff?

Oh and I am looking at going to a USB device probably the smoothstepper unless theres something better you guys recommend hows that going to effect the laser and mach 3 or 4 etc...

Thanks for any and all help
Oh and sorry for the super long rambling  post lots of info and questions.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2015, 12:21:28 AM by bearwen.us »

Offline Tweakie.CNC

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Re: CO2 Laser and also Mach4 questions
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2015, 04:22:20 AM »
As you are aware, commercial laser machines (at least in our price range) do not run Gcode as standard (the FSE lasers may be an exception if you are bold enough to buy from them) so you are pretty much limited to the Chinese software and CorelDraw.

If you do decide to tear out the controller in favour of Gcode then perhaps browse through this thread http://www.machsupport.com/forum/index.php/topic,12444.0.html 
(as it has become very long I suggest you scroll through looking for the images then only read those posts which may be relevant to your requirements).

As for greyscale engraving, Art has developed a plugin with Arduino for Mach4 but so far he is, I think, the only one who has got it to work at this moment in time.
Mach3 already has an engraving plugin, which I find is excellent but not everyone has found it easy to use. The mach3 pluging will only work with the parallel port so external motion controller’s are not supported at this time.

A 40Watt CO2 laser has plenty of power to work with Cermark / Thermark / etc. so no problems there (other than the cost of the compound).

Hope this answers some of your questions.

Tweakie.
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.  Winston Churchill.
Re: CO2 Laser and also Mach4 questions
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2015, 03:46:50 PM »
tweakie,
  Thanks for the reply especially about the thermark compound and I was not aware that the mach3 plugin only works with the parallel port good to know.

I have read bits and pieces of the thread you linked its long and I have read a lot of your stuff.

So there really is no good way to run a laser without serious $$$$ or the Chinese software that sucks oh well guess its Chinese software for now and if I can justify it in the future then perhaps spend the money for the better stuff.

Tweakie do you see any reason I cant use X axis moves as rotary for engraving on a laser. Heres the idea build a rotary axis with same motor and gearing as the X axis of the laser. unplug Xaxis motor plugin rotary motor move carriage to above rotary axis and lock it down.

Measure the diameter of the piece to engrave do the math for circumference then use that as the X axis size in the design software and when rastering the image with the laser the X axis will only be moving a small amount for the stepover I believe this would work for a laser.
On my lathe I use aspire to export Aaxis moves to the chuck by degrees but the way a laser just goes back and forth then moves down then back and forth I believe it could be done the way I described above.

Offline Tweakie.CNC

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Re: CO2 Laser and also Mach4 questions
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2015, 02:33:58 AM »
No reason you could not do that but I think it would be far easier to use Terry's wrapper wizard  http://www.machsupport.com/forum/index.php/topic,23216.0.html  This works brilliantly and is just so easy to use.

Tweakie.

EDIT OOps, sorry just realised you will be using the Chinese software rather than Gcode so yes, as long as the rotary axis is calibrated to produce the same linear dimension on the curved surface as the plane axis it will be replacing then it should work really well.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2015, 03:08:06 AM by Tweakie.CNC »
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.  Winston Churchill.