I finally did it and got a cheapish Laser Cutter from Banggood. I read lots of the comments and everyone said it was amazing.
It came in the week, but I was a very good boy and didn’t get distracted from work. So this weekend, I cracked it open and built it.
It’s a steep learning curve, I hate it when I don’t know how to do something. The first 2 hours I was trying to cut paper and getting nowhere and kind of hating it!
With 3D printing, you can just download a model someone else has made, run it through a slicer and print it. This is all different. Each laser is different and effects different materials differently, so there is no quick start point.
I banged my head against the paper for a while, before branching out and trying the left over pancakes.
I was expecting a burn colour, but it just vaporised the pancake and left an engraved area.
It’s great for food as there is no contact. This one and the test pancake were quickly snapped up and eaten.
This minor piece of progress spurred me on and I got out my card stock. Its only 180gsm, but I wanted to see the difference between cutting, drawing and etching. I got a test burn file from someone on an online cutting forum. This idea is that you print this sort of thing and it shows you different engraving levels (it’s a percentage of full laser power). Frustratingly for the first half of the cut, nothing happened. It must means his laser is more powerful than mine. But when it got to 50% it started to have an effect.
When this is done on a 3d surface (rather than card), each segment should be a different colour, from light scorch to nut brown! On the card, the marks started at 50% power and by 80% it was completely burning through (so I stopped it)
This told me I was on the right track.
Anyhow, I decided on a thing to make as a first test print and made some progress. Details to follow.
I thought that starting with the white card would be the simplest point. I have an unresolved thing to make where I cut parts for a fold and glue robot/person. It’s one of the unmade things.
But the card was hard. I did get cuts, engraves and scores just about working, but it was unreliable, and I didn’t like that.
Two things going on (at least):
1: Paper & card is rarely completely flat and with the thinness, the difference between a score, etch and cut is fine, so with the card bending up at the corners in unpredictable ways, it’s difficult to get a reliable result.
2: White. I think white reflects a lot of the laser, so there is less for cutting. The machine came with a marker pen and I see lots of examples where reflective surfaces (perspex, metal, glass) is painted black to get the laser to.. Laser.
I’ll come back to card…