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Thread: Best to cut 1/4 Baltic birch and other woods.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    Spingfield, MO.
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    56

    Best to cut 1/4 Baltic birch and other woods.

    I have not been on in awhile my woodshop is mostly completed I find a lot of my scroll saw and pyrography projects are on 1/3 or 1/4 Baltic birch or other woods sometimes walnut. I have a new friend teaching me how to use my wood shop tools and I mentioned wanting to get either a CNC or Laser engraver next and he suggested a laser engraver would be more versatile for his and my current needs in crafts.

    what I am wondering what would be best for cutting 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 and 1/3 wood. If laser what is minimum power I would need with the fewest passes? 1 preferred. How much will it burn into the edges of wood so I can make the cuts larger than needed to sand away the burn marks? I have CaMaster CNC dreams with a Shapeoko budget so not yet sure what CN I want and am still deciding on Epilog, or Trotech Lasers.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
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    Sammamish, WA
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    My Epilog is 45 watts, and I can cut 1/4” oak, Baltic or ply in one pass. I have cut 3/8” in two passes, and never tried anything thicker. The laser’s cutting beam is hourglass shaped, so there is an angle to the cut. It’s barely noticeable up to about 1/8” but even at 1/4 parts won’t fit together right if you are making things that get glued up. For most art projects it won’t matter. The edge burn is very easy to sand off on most woods, a couple of passes with 120 and it’s gone.



    Sammamish, WA

    Epilog Legend 24TT 45W, had a sign business for 17 years, now just doing laser work on the side.

    "One only needs two tools in life: WD-40 to make things go, and duct tape to make them stop." G. Weilacher

    "The handyman's secret weapon - Duct Tape" R. Green

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    Spingfield, MO.
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    56
    Thanks for the reply Joe. Saving money now for the next tool leaning toward the biggest with 50watt Epilog Mini (dreaming of a Helix)

  4. #4
    If cutting is your main focus, go Chinese glass, WAY more bang for the buck. Up to 80 watts they'll engrave nice too, but SLOW.

    For raster engraving, you want an RF machine aka 'western' with a Synrad, Coherent, etc. metal tube (or a Ceramic by Trotec)

    I have 3 metal lasers, 30, 35 and 40 watts, and an 80w Chinese. While the metal lasers will engrave circles around the Chinese machine, they can't even begin to keep up with the cutting capabilities of my 80w glass machine...
    My 2 cent advice, get both; pick up a new Chinese machine, and search out a good used metal machine, which will still likely cost double the Chinese machine, but they work well for years and hold their value much better...

    I have 17 various lasers and tool engravers in my house, and most of them I've bought used, ALL of which have been extremely reliable and have paid for themselves many times over...
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    Spingfield, MO.
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    56
    Are Trotec Laser just rebranded and modified Chinese lasers?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    No. Austrian company as good or better than epilog. They are number one and two (pick your order) of quality lasers.
    Woodworking, Old Tools and Shooting
    Ray Fine RF-1390 Laser
    Ray Fine 20watt Fiber Laser
    PM2000, Delta BS, Delta sander, Powermatic 50 jointer,
    Powermatic100-12 planer, Rockwell 15-126 radial drill press
    Rockwell 46-450 lathe, and 2 Walker Turner RA1100 radial saws

    RIA 22TCM 1911s

  7. #7
    This is just a 'general' description of different 'engraving/cutting' style lasers as I understand them in very layman terms

    Trotec, Universal, Epilog, Gravograph, GCC, and many other 'western' lasers use RF lasers- RF *I believe* refers to 'radio frequency' controlled firing. They're typically referred to as 'metal' tubes because they're encased in a metal housing, which allows for heat-sink air cooling (up to 80-100 watts or so)... however, some Trotec tubes are encased in ceramic, otherwise the tube operation is essentially the same. RF lasers fire extremely fast, and are easily capable of firing (I've read) over 1 million times per second. This allows them to fire in pulses along the X-axis path, typically between 300 and 500 pulses (dots) per inch, and this is regardless of speed. This rapid firing means that (usually) every fired pulse is identical to the previous one, which means an RF tube is capable of producing very high detail at extremely high speeds. Also, RF lasers automatically compensate for power reductions when the gantry is slowing down and re-accelerating when changing directions when rastering and vector cutting. There are usually settings 'tweaks' available to the user, but for the most part, RF lasers require very little user interaction aside from the basic speed/power/resolution settings...

    Most Chinese lasers use DC fired lasers, DC referring to 'direct current'. DC lasers are almost always encased in glass, which also includes a water jacket to allow for water cooling the tube. This means a water pump/chiller is needed. Smaller wattage machines can get by with simple radiator-type cooling, but in most cases a refrigerated cooler is preferred and advised. Contrary to RF lasers, DC lasers fire relatively slowly. My personal comparison definition: RF lasers are to LED lights as DC lasers are to incandescent lights -- And, as I understand it, DC lasers do not fire in pulses, they just plain fire, they're either off or on. Because of their slow-firing nature, raster engraving speeds are severely limited, most DC machines max speeds are usually between 500 and 800mm per second. Trotec and Gravograph (at least) build RF machines that can run 5x that fast, or more. Whereas a DC tube is speed-limited due to its firing speed, RF lasers are limited (in practical use) by the mechanicals moving the laser head! And while RF lasers 'auto' compensate for slowdown/accel when rastering, DC machines don't- They compensate strictly by 'overrun', extra travel beyond the actual left and right edges of the engraving. DC lasers DO compensate for what they call 'corner power' when cutting, to reduce over-burn during direction changes. However, it's not a purely automatic function, in many/most cases the user must choose his own corner power settings.

    Short version, running an RF laser is like driving a BMW, running a DC laser is like driving a Peterbilt

    My opinion: As nice as RF lasers are to have and run, when it comes to cutting thru organic materials, for the money, DC/glass lasers work very well






    .
    Last edited by Kev Williams; 01-06-2019 at 12:29 AM.
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Suwanee, GA
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    Yes, that's exactly what they are - a $3,000 laser rebranded and sold for $30,000...

    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Henry View Post
    Are Trotec Laser just rebranded and modified Chinese lasers?
    I have done so much with so little for so long, that I can do almost anything with practically nothing...

    Trotec Speedy 400 80 watt 8/2015
    G. Weike LF-30, 30 watt galvo fiber - 1/2016
    G. Weike LF-30, 30 watt galvo fiber - 3/2015
    Fargo HDP5000 Card printer


  9. #9
    glad I wasn't drinking coffee...
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Suwanee, GA
    Posts
    3,656
    They say there is no such thing as a stupid question, but sometimes the limits are pushed as far as you can possibly imagine.
    I have done so much with so little for so long, that I can do almost anything with practically nothing...

    Trotec Speedy 400 80 watt 8/2015
    G. Weike LF-30, 30 watt galvo fiber - 1/2016
    G. Weike LF-30, 30 watt galvo fiber - 3/2015
    Fargo HDP5000 Card printer


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Iowa USA
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    3,456
    30 seconds and a Google search would have answered that question.
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa. , LightObject 40w CO2 Laser and Chiller, Fine Line Automation 4x4 CNC Router- Mach4 ESS

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
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    Deep South
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    3,887
    Good or bad, the same can be said for about 75% of all questions asked on Sawmill Creek.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill George View Post
    30 seconds and a Google search would have answered that question.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Arizona
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    4,105
    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Henry View Post
    Are Trotec Laser just rebranded and modified Chinese lasers?
    have you done any research at all???????????????
    If the Help and advice you received here was of any VALUE to you PLEASE! Become a Contributor
    Rabbit RL_XX_6040-60 watt Laser engraving/cutting machine
    Lasercut 5.3
    CorelDraw X5

    10" Miter Saw with slide
    10" Table Saw
    8" bench mount 5 speed Drill Press
    Dremel, 3x21 Belt Sander


  14. #14
    geez, go easy guys, that's what he's doing here-- and FWIW, me personally, the absolute LAST thing I will EVER do if I'm looking for information on an internet forum is 'do a search'....internet search forums are for finding where something is you already know about, not basic research...

    The whole stinkin' purpose of internet forums is the personal/human element... If you don't want that, google is the only bookmark you'll ever need... whoop de doo
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Olalla, WA
    Posts
    1,482
    If you will not be making a steady income, go with an 80W Chinese machine with a fat body tube (like Reci) and a Ruida controller*.

    Seven years now and my original 80W Reci is still going strong. The engraving quality is on par with the western machines, but slower. Cutting is just as good as the western machines and just as fast.

    If you've got the money (quite a bit of it), Trotec would be my first choice.

    Another difference between the cheap Chinese machines and the western ones like Epilog and Trotec is that the latter us encoder strips on the axis. That means that the position of the laser head is precisely tracked in real time.

    Cheap machines use steppers with no encoders**, that means that the motors turn "blindly" a certain amount and the laser head is expected to be in the right location via the belts and pulleys. It works and it works very well, but the ultimate precision is a little less than the western machines - which is irrelevant for 99% of users.

    *You would want a Ruida controller so that you can use LightBurn

    **Even the steppers that do have encoders are not much of an improvement (if at all) since the encoder is on the motor itself and does not track the laser head like the western machines do. You will still have the inaccuracies introduced by the belts and pulleys. The encoder strips of the western machines are superior.
    Shenhui 1440x850, 130 Watt Reci Z6

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