Basics CO2 Laser Building (Suggested Components)

Hello there smoothie users !.

It’s a “dumb question”. I saw the laser guides and, “maybe”, wiring and another pendants are “clear”,
it’s just time to buy the things and do some testings.

I have been considering the use of a laser diode (“40w”, “80w”), or even the chance to use a real 40w CO2 laser. Even said that, as I mentioned before, tests and decisions are pending.

The question is… I’m a smoothie user, and I built a cnc machine, so, I have experience wiring and configuring the smoothieboard. (The first kickstarter release)

Laser diode installation appears to be simple. The next goal is to build a CO2 laser. The guides appears to be clear for me, but, I’m a completely newbie related with the parts or components (physical) that are required to start the building. So, I don’t know if somebody in the group could help me to know “the list of basic components” required or suggested to build the CO2 machine.

Components like laser, power supply, belt, rails, stepper motors and pump are understood, but, for example, I don’t know “the name” of the head that is connected to the laser output that allows to use the beam and start cutting or engraving over the wood (for example) moving the motors, also I don’t know if some type of “blackbox” back emf device is required to wire along the installation. Another examples can be a current meter, a temperature meter, “a blue box” designed for me to enclosure the full installation, extensions or special plugs maybe, a double metal head will be better (laser), and I could still go on mentioning additional “required suspicious parts”.

I saw multiple videos on social media to understand these unknown components for me, but, after reviewing the videos and seeing the three guides available on smoothieware site (the main guide, and two more guides talking about “blue box k40”), I have decided to answer this pendant situation to anyone that could bring me just a little bit of help to know “what” more is required to buy.

I don’t know if the list could change drastically if the CO2 laser is above 150w (for example) or it’s “similar” if it was below that number (I understand it’s simple, change power supply and co2 laser according to the expected, but what happen with the other parts ?). As I said, I’m not an expert, I’m just trying to do my best effort to understand this.

Any info will be appreciated (even if there is a page or media that can understand a newbie, it’ll help a lot). Thanks in advance…

I think you are asking basically how to design and build your own CO2 laser, correct?

May I suggest #laser-engravers-cutters as a better category? My ongoing work on my #monocle build has lots of names of components. I put together an initial BOM though I haven’t updated it with discoveries as I go along.

The laser power is primarily a function of length. My 100W tube is about 1400mm long.

Most folks I’ve seen building from scratch have been building their own enclosure. Builds I’ve seen in an existing enclosure are usually starting with a dead unit. I am not aware of sellers of bare enclosures. I expect they exist but if I were buying one I’d just buy the whole thing because it would probably be cheaper than buying individual components; I have been doing a DIY build because I wanted something different from the commercially-available units.

Thanks for your time ! .

Of course, I have in mind some components that are clear for me are going to be acquired.
For sure, maybe some incoming and new components will be dead, so, let’s hope “the expensive ones” are going to be free of that situations. DIY enclosure maybe is not going to be an issue.

#laser-engravers-cutters , is correct, the category must be that.

I see… so, maybe a basic question is, how long does it take to the laser tube to be replaced ?. In situations where it’s not commonly used, does it affect in some way ?. Is it expensive to “fill again” the tube or is it better to buy a new one if the current tube is not working anymore ?

Let’s suppose, just for a minute, that you choose a laser diode, and, ignoring the fact that chinese diodes are not an option, which type of laser diode (>= 10w real output) would you suggest ?.

Thanks in advance…

OK, I moved category for you.

Tube lifetime depends on quality of tube and quality of cooling.

Plasma-excited tubes aren’t refillable. If they are cracked, or if they are run without being properly cooled, they are permanently dead. (In theory it would be possible to refill them; in practice it’s not economically feasible.) RF-excited tubes cost more than 10x for the tube alone and are refurbishable. The best tubes have a long lifetime if perfectly maintained, e.g. advertising 10,000 hours. Of course you pay more for the best tubes! But if you once don’t cool them effectively, you have permanently poisoned them with CO and they are very dead. Search this site for tem01 and you’ll see lots of pictures of how tubes typically start going bad. Once you see a non-optimal mode develop, it’s already game over, no going back.

There are new diode heads (some of which are similar in cost to a CO2 laser) that have asymmetric lenses and multiple diodes that can give fairly similar cutting performance to a basic CO2 laser in some materials — but not in optically clear materials that don’t absorb blue light.

Got $2500 laser-burning a hole in your pocket?

Sculpfun S9 burning through 15mm wood (without air assist!):

Keep in mind that these diode lasers with no form of enclosure are not safe!

I had seen the one that costs $2,500, and, for that reason ( :laughing: ) , I have decided to check Neje A40640 or even, the endurance laser model that outputs (real, they claim) 10w or more…

Of course, cooling a laser is essential to preserve it’s lifetime. Even I saw distilled water with a chiller or a colling box (radiator, diy, etc) is required to accomplish the fact that you mentioned before.

About diode lasers, and the scenario where an enclosure is missing, what do you recommend to “enclosure” a module like Neje A40640 ?. What other kind of advices can you tell me related with the use of laser diodes ?.

Note that radiators are almost never enough for a laser. They bring water up to a bit warmer than radiant even if the laser isn’t running. #k40:intro has an article on cooling.

Here are some useful bits:

@donkjr has been working on his #mobeam design intended to enclose the beam without enclosing the entire mechanism.

Here’s a tent option:

Great options. A lot of things to analyze with this info.

Thanks a lot for your attention !. :+1: :+1: :+1: :+1: