Lasercut and engrave advise for Acrylic

Hello everyone,

After looking on Facebook, google, watching Youtube Videos. I am even more confused then I was before I started to look into this.

What I want to do. Is mainly to cut and engrave Acrylic and Wood. More Acrylic then Wood. From what I have found so far. Is that I should buy a CNC machine?
My budget will be around the 500 max. As this is my first purchase, and just for a Hobby.

I don’t want to spend to much money yet.
Hopefully someone can advise me on this please.

Thank You!

Tell us more…

How thick do you want to cut?
How tall/wide do you want the pieces to be?

Do you want to buy something that Just Works, or is tinkering with the machine part of the fun for you?

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Sorry for the missing Information.
DiY machine would be fine. I am into 3d printing and build all my machines myself. And thats the way how I learned.

Size of pieces not sure i prob want to use it mainly to make led lights that you put in a stand.
Length max 20 cm def not over 30 cm
Width maybe 20 cm max

Thickness about 3mm

Thank You!

No problem, it’s part of the conversation! I also got into this by building 3d printers and learning a lot, and now I have a mostly-scratch-built CNC router and am working on a scratch-built CO2 laser. :relaxed:

You might want to Display your national flag with your user name so that folks have an idea what currency the “500” is in. Set the flag at the bottom of the Profile setting in preferences.

You can mill acrylic with a cheap 3018 CNC but they aren’t very stiff, and that could be really frustrating. You would be better off with something like an RS-CNC32 or MPCNC. I haven’t priced out RS-CNC32 components, but like the MPCNC it is based on a lot of printed parts. To mill acrylic, you want very sharp mills an engraving tools; if they are dull the acrylic melts instead of cutting.

You can’t use a blue laser for acrylic, since acrylic is transparent to visible blue light.

You can use a CO2 laser for acrylic. At least in the US, you can get a K40 for under $500, but it’s really not ready to use. New to K40: Start Here has information that you can use to see what it would really cost to get started. The biggest challenge is usually cooling, and it depends on how much work you are willing to do to instead of having a machine do work automatically to keep the tube cool.

A K40 can handle your 20x30cm max, and can cut 3mm acrylic. Air assist really helps, though! Things to add:

  • Aquarium pump and tube for air assist; $US 50-60 is typically enough.
  • Cooling: water bucket with some bottles of ice water can be in budget; refrigerated cooling won’t be in your budget. Don’t buy a CW-3000; that’s not a cooler, it’s just a radiator. (It’s useful for other things, just not for lasers.)
  • Interlocks: same things you use for limit switches on 3d printers, hooked up to a hardware enable line. (“Do not look into laser with remaining eye.”)
  • Analog ammeter, if your unit doesn’t include one. The digital power displays are not accurate and it is easy to destroy your tube by counting on them. This should cost around $US 10-15.
  • Metal exhaust tube is recommended. The semi-flex aluminum tube won’t catch fire like the plastic flex tube shipped with the unit, and shouldn’t be terribly expensive. Vent it outside.