Laser cutting of plywood: features and equipment
Laser cutter greatly simplifies the processing of wood, making it easy to cut a variety of details of complex configuration. Light beams, which, thanks to the use of a collimator are combined into a single beam, heats the material to the temperature of vaporization, provides maximum cutting accuracy and absence of irregularities.
Making a laser wood cutter with your own hands is not difficult, but it will require all the necessary materials and accessories, which we will explain in this article.
Laser cutting technology
Laser wood cutting significantly reduces production costs due to the high-tech processing method. The material is placed on the machine, and by means of a laser beam the image is burned out on the solid wood. This process is virtually waste-free, and the resulting engraving will be durable.
Laser cutting differs when working with different types of wood. Each requires a specific beam temperature. In addition, during processing, the material may change color under its influence. Modern laser woodworking actually knows no limits. The powerful beam can handle any thickness of material.
It is necessary to note such advantages:
- The speed of execution of works on cutting;
- The possibility of making special and attractive products;
- the low price of the work performed by specialists
- high reliability of the work;
- the smallest width of the cut that the beam is capable of forming (is 0.01 millimeters);
- The probability of forming different drawings and engravings;
- equipment versatility.
When cutting wood or plywood with a laser, you can make flawlessly smooth edges. This excellence is most important if small openwork details are to be marked. Nevertheless the edges of the wooden plane takes on a dark tint, because they are charred under the influence of the laser.
To compensate for this disadvantage, some of the laser machines have a blowing and venting system that helps get rid of combustion products.
In order to produce laser radiation, a tube of gas and a mixture consisting of nitrogen, helium and carbon dioxide is used. During voltage application, a monochrome kind of radiation is initiated, which mirrors onto the plane that needs to be machined. The suitable power for the laser, which is used for cutting, at least 20 watts, but there are devices with lower power.
In addition, the laser technique of wood cutting is characterized by the highest fidelity of the established pattern. To ensure that the edges come out smooth and exactly as planned, all you need to do is set a certain program. Compared to using a jigsaw, the cutting procedure is very simple. Because of the small beam size and the presence of numerical programs, processing with a laser is fast.
A distinction is made between those machines that have control programs and those that do not. In addition, there are auxiliary parts, which simplifies the work with the equipment.
Among these elements are the following.
- Chillers. devices that cool the laser tube. During cutting wood the tube made of glass with gas is heated up quickly. In order to cool this piece of equipment, a second sheath is applied to the tube, through which a liquid circulates continuously, thus cooling the gas tube. There are components in the chiller in the form of freon, water. The price of this element is more than 500
- Systems by which the blowing and pulling of the combustion product is performed. In order to cool down the workpiece and release the elements created during evaporation, these systems are used. Otherwise it is possible to burn the wood.
- In addition, the Focus lens also needs continuous cooling. The components for this process are basic and can be found on every machine.
Process of cutting materials by laser
An electric or handheld machine is required to cut the raw material. Cutting plywood with a laser involves a precise, single beam impact on the surface to be cut, i.e. е. is made without contact and eliminates the appearance of waste.
Reasons to choose the laser plywood cutting process
- Woodworking materials are affordable, but economy and minimum consumption are always an issue. Traditional mechanical methods of wood cutting leads to a large amount of waste. The use of modern tool, which is a laser machine, allows to eliminate such a problem.
- The concentrated light beam produces a degree of precision that is unachievable with other machining methods.
- Use of laser offers the highest speed of the procedure. All operations for workpiece cutting are performed in one work cycle. The operator clamps the sheet of material to be cut in the machine, sets the template and the machine does the rest. Employee involvement time after the start of the CNC program is minimal.
Despite rather high startup costs, with a rational approach to work organization, custom production of structures of very complicated shapes remains profitable and affordable for customers. Even a milling machine does not produce the same results as a laser.
With their own hands
If you have a desire to save money and assemble a homemade mini laser for cutting plywood with your own hands, you will have to buy a laser gun, as the computer disk drive can only burn out on wood. But the coordination mechanism is much easier. CNC machines can also be made by yourself. The main thing. the working element must move smoothly on the guides. Toothed belts and drives can be purchased online. As a control system, you can take a ready-made integrated element, for example, an Arduino chip.
Cutting plywood with a laser beam is a very effective and affordable technology. The reasonable price of the device allows you to buy it as a hobby, and to generate income. And if you have the opportunity to make a plotter with your own hands, you can save a lot on this.
Laser for cutting plywood with my own hands
Is it possible to create a device for laser cutting plywood with your own hands?
If you use CNC, the resulting device will cope with cutting plywood and OSB with very high accuracy, you will be able to create subtle outlines. They do engraving, complex drawings with a transition of colors.
The beam focusing system provides a cut width of 1/100 of a millimeter, which adds precision in pattern creation and detail.
Possible disadvantages include:
- The cost of the necessary equipment is quite high. Master needs to buy a laser for cutting, carbon dioxide tube, focusing system, DSP controller, driver of stepper motors and carriages
- the tube works 3. 8 thousand hours, then it must be replaced
- the laser requires a liquid cooler, in enterprises for this cooling unit is used, which operates as a heat pump. chiller. But in home conditions, you can use a capacity of 80 to 100 liters and a water pump
- You have to take care of the drawings
- As a result of the edge of the cut being charred, the room will be filled with smoke. You can solve this problem by building a closed case with a glass top and a venting device.
How the laser is made? The base is a 40×60 aluminum tube, which is secured with a furniture angle and self-tapping screws. The box can be assembled from budget Laminated chipboard. A 12-volt LED strip is attached inside to light up the process.
Directly on the tubes of the bed it is necessary to install rails, for the movement of the carriages along the transverse axis. To each carriage is attached a longitudinal tube with another guide. already under the carriage, which is responsible for the movement of the head. A piece of foil can be used to seal the connection between the tube and the nozzle.
Carriage Drive. Stepper motors, with belt drive and gearbox. If you have a broken scanner or inkjet printer, take it from there.
If several drives are used on the carriage, which is responsible for the movement of the head along the transverse axis, it can be difficult to synchronize them. In this situation a single stepper motor with a gearbox and a shaft of full head length is suitable, which guarantees synchronous movement of both carriages.
It is necessary to create the compartment, where there is a place for power supply unit, stepper motor driver and DSP controller. In essence this is the control unit of the device.
The laser tube should be fixed by plastic fixtures, which allow changing its position. Near it place a tube of liquid cooling, and for pumping use a low-powered pump from a house fountain.
As you can see, the device for laser cutting of plywood can be assembled with your own hands, but it will have to spend a significant amount of money.
Home-made laser engraver to work with large areas
As the basis any drawing for the assembly of so-called KIT-kits from the same Chinese friends is taken.
Finding an aluminum profile is not a problem, making carriages with wheels is not a problem either. On one of them, the complete laser module is mounted, and the other pair of carriages will move the guide truss. Stepper motors drive the motion, the torque is transmitted by toothed belts.
It is better to assemble the construction inside some box with active ventilation. The acrid fumes generated during engraving are harmful to health. Exhaust to the outdoors when used indoors.
If you work with metal plates, the reflected glare from the beam may damage your retina. The best protection is made of red plexiglass. This neutralizes the blue laser beam and allows you to monitor the process in real time.
The control circuit is assembled on any programmable controller. The most popular are the Arduino UNO systems, sold at the same Chinese electronics sites. The solution is inexpensive, but effective and practically universal.
The most common option is to connect it to a personal computer. Drawing and engraving parameters are created with any standard graphics editor.
If your picture is a bitmap. tracing is necessary.
By connecting and programming the USB controller, you can output the engraving job directly from a digital media (flash drive), having previously created a file on your computer. Bottom line:
The laser engraving machine with a laser head is so affordable that it can be purchased not only for commercial use, but also for personal use.
Making crafts for children, saving on promotional materials for your own company, design items for the home. this is an incomplete list of uses for the machine.
Automation and control
An important point of the unit, assembled with your own hands, is the synchronous operation of the guide motors, which is achieved by connecting the control, which is carried out by the board, the same for both mechanisms.
Programs needed to start your self-made machine are available on the web. The required utilities must be downloaded to the computer used for control. Among the most popular ones for working with laser cutting: Inkscape, Arduno IDE, Universal Gcode Sender (version 1.0.7).
The above programs are installed in a standard pattern, and then you can begin setting the contour parameters of the future drawing.
You will need the Arduno IDE board settings to control cutting and engraving parameters such as power (i.e. piercing temperature) and laser speed. First of all, you must load the GRBL code, which can be selected from the list offered by the program. Then you can adjust the cutting parameters.
Laser cutting of plywood. products
The ability to burn the most intricate patterns on these machines makes them indispensable helpers for craftsmen engaged in the production of various decorations. For example, laser-cut plywood art frames can be made in less than an hour. Here is a brief list of products that are made on such a wonderful innovative equipment:
- design packaging;
- picture frames;
- Interior décor;
- parts for designer furniture;
- Beautifully designed kitchen utensils.