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Laser diodes

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bruce
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Username: bruce

Post Number: 997
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Posted on Saturday, 07 December, 2013 - 12:05 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Hi,
I'm thinking of making a small laser cutter/engraver. Laser cutters use a 40W CO2 laser which is water-cooled. Cutters cost 500 quid. They're also a bit big.
Hackaday have profiled a few hackers who have made smaller devices ( 'the Micro-Slice' kit sells at 50quid ). Mostly these things use diodes of around 250mW. They will etch wood, but not much else.
I'm not specially wanting to cut wood, but would like to cut thin card. I could risk buying a 300mW laser, but I'd like to use something bigger, say 1W.
In the USA, you can get 1W diodes for a few dollars, but here in the UK, the cheapest diodes are around 50 quid. They're too easy to trash to risk it.
I also have many IR diodes pulled from quite big photocopiers. Would anyone know what sort of power those devices used?

bruce
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cjay
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Post Number: 18
Registered: 10-2013

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Posted on Saturday, 07 December, 2013 - 12:27 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Dangerous devices but it seems you can pick up 1 watt and 2 watt laser diodes on eBay for around £20
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ian_field
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Posted on Friday, 20 December, 2013 - 09:00 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Apparently you can ignite matches with the beam from a DVD laser - but you'd probably have to mount it on a small step size X-Y plotter to do any serious etching.
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cjay
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Post Number: 21
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Posted on Saturday, 21 December, 2013 - 11:36 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

From a DVD Writer laser, yes. It's possible to burst balloons as well but the diodes don't last long as they need to be driven hard to do that.

I've noticed an awful lot of laser cut and etched plywood Christmas decorations this year, I'm considering a small business for next year :-)
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mikehibbett
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Posted on Sunday, 22 December, 2013 - 11:44 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I'm following this set of instructions at the moment

http://www.instructables.com/id/Pocket-laser-engraver/

I currently have 5 DVD drives stripped down. In theory, this should cut thin cardboard. The cutting area will be about 2" x 2" I think. Small, but as it cost less than 20 quid, I don't mind. I went into the local PC repair shop, and they were happy ( although a little bemused ) to give me "broken" dvd drives for nothing.
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mikeb
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Post Number: 1003
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Posted on Tuesday, 24 December, 2013 - 03:32 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have a home brew cnc and I also played around with this idea to cut thin ply.

I now get stuff from China - its cheap, it seems to work and HM Customs seems to leave the packages alone (probably because the sums are so small). So long as you are prepared to wait 10-15 days, it is incredible value for money.

I would get their highest wattage, air cooled devices. They also sell a special lens, which is a cost effective way of getting more power.
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bruce
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Posted on Tuesday, 24 December, 2013 - 04:49 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I don't know where you get the idea that you can get a 1W laser for 20 quid. There are some modules for 50 quid, but with no lens. They recommend you but some from AiziX for another 50 quid. Most lasers I've seen on Ebay at that power run into hundreds.
MikeH, nice plan; possibly. I have several DVD heads with 2 laser diodes in, although I first have to find which is red and which is IR. But how will you focus them and how will you get all 5 beams to converge?
MikeB. Apart from Ebay, I don't know how you get stuff from China, and, for me, Ebay has drawn a blank. A high wattage air-cooled device sounds good; do you have any links?
bruce
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cjay
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Post Number: 23
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Posted on Tuesday, 24 December, 2013 - 05:58 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Bruce, plenty of sellers offering 1 watt laser diodes for well under £20 on eBay, search for 1 watt burning laser. Cheapest I've seen today is currently less than £7 with free shipping, there are others on Buy it Now for £15 and free shipping.

Yes, you need the optics and a driver (easy to homebrew or buy from the Chinese sites, dx.com for instance) to suit so it's not complete but it's definitely a 1 Watt laser diode for well under £20
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g6osv
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Post Number: 184
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Posted on Tuesday, 24 December, 2013 - 09:42 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have often wondered if I fitted a uv laser to my roland plotter instead of a pen if it would print/plot a pattern on pre sensitised pcb board.
It would cut out the transparancy and uv box stages at least.
IIan
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g6osv
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Post Number: 186
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Posted on Monday, 30 December, 2013 - 07:53 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

looks like it does work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHjqAbnmEvw

Ian
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bruce
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Posted on Tuesday, 31 December, 2013 - 11:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Ian,
I'm not clear what that video is showing. What is that film he's using?
If the pc board already comes with a sensitive layer, why not just print your circuit as a negative, stick in on the board, and flash with a UV lamp? Much less complex than using a laser diode.
Bruce

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