Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 32

Thread: Using fiber laser engraver attatched to an existing cnc machine ?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Loch Ness, Scotland
    Posts
    17

    Using fiber laser engraver attatched to an existing cnc machine ?

    I've been looking at fiber laser engravers as they seem to be able to engrave finer detail than I can achieve with a high speed spindle and they have pretty reasonable prices for say a 30W machine.
    However, the software that typically comes with them seems to cause users a lot of issues for rotary engraving, never mind full 4 or 5 axis work.
    So, I'm wondering how feasible it would be to attach a fiber laser source with simple fixed focus optics onto one of my existing cnc machines similar to how many users have done using a diode laser ?
    Are there any particular issues with doing this or in controlling a fiber laser source ?

    thanks,
    Rab

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Rab Gordon View Post
    I've been looking at fiber laser engravers as they seem to be able to engrave finer detail than I can achieve with a high speed spindle and they have pretty reasonable prices for say a 30W machine.
    However, the software that typically comes with them seems to cause users a lot of issues for rotary engraving, never mind full 4 or 5 axis work.
    So, I'm wondering how feasible it would be to attach a fiber laser source with simple fixed focus optics onto one of my existing cnc machines similar to how many users have done using a diode laser ?
    Are there any particular issues with doing this or in controlling a fiber laser source ?

    thanks,
    Rab

    you'd have some complex problems. Focusing would be an issue. Are you processing metal? Fiber only affect non-organic material. What kind of application would you be doing/ what purpose of putting this on a cnc machine, also how big of a CNC machine?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Loch Ness, Scotland
    Posts
    17
    Primarily I'd like to make rings in titanium, silver, gold, etc.
    I currently do this using a high speed spindle on a small milling machine.
    I'm assuming that focus could be set by adjusting the height of the lens above the workpiece, attached to the Z-axis.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Rab Gordon View Post
    Primarily I'd like to make rings in titanium, silver, gold, etc.
    I currently do this using a high speed spindle on a small milling machine.
    I'm assuming that focus could be set by adjusting the height of the lens above the workpiece, attached to the Z-axis.
    Personally I think you'd be better off with a stand alone system, adding a laser into a CNC area is no bueno, you can run the risk of damaging the optics with debris. I'm sure you could find a z-post 20w stand alone unit instead trying to rig something up.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Loch Ness, Scotland
    Posts
    17
    Would there be any more danger to the optics than a typical scanhead fiber laser ? Would it have to be a much shorter focal distance ? If so then could you add a cutting head style shroud with air purge to keep the lens clean ?

    I found one DPSS metal engraving laser designed for this type of application, although only 10W and a relatively large spot size;
    http://endurancelasers.com/an-endurance-brand-new-fiber-marking-module-for-metal-engraving/

    Was really hoping to find a similar 30W fiber laser source.

    Rab
    cnc-toolkit

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Loch Ness, Scotland
    Posts
    17
    Should I have posted this in the Engraving-Hardware-and-Software sub forum ?
    Can it be moved ?

    Rab

  7. #7
    I'm not sure exactly what your intentions are--
    If engraving, as long as your parts are sized below the working area, which is 'adjustable' via lens size, you don't need a gantry...
    If machining, which is very tough to do with a fiber, you can't use a galvo head laser, since the beam- aka your 'cutting tool', is always on an angle, no straight cuts. You'd be better off looking at a gantry-steered fiber, like the Epilog. They run at glacial speed compared to a galvo, but it's the only way I can think of to make a straight cut...

    I believe Epilog (for one) also makes a gantry-galvo combo machine with a 24x24" work area, but it's spendy- I'd put up a video but can't find a decent one (why a company selling a 24x24 machine will only show 4x4" of it working is beyond me?)

    I've been thinking of fabbing up a bracket so one of my old 5000XT's (rotary tool machine) would hold the scan head & housing to the spindle housing, so that I can fiber etch the 22 x 31" operator panels I make; I'd just use the XT to move the scanhead around manually. It would work, and I could focus easy enough since these spindle heads have about 3" of adjustment vertically. Just haven't had time to actually do it. And FWIW, the last thing I'd worry about is messing up the optics

    Something like this moving XY table would help me, but I'd need one that would move at least 30x30", and to do that would require fabbing up a boom with 30" of clearance from the lens to the tower. But that's do-able. Would something like this work for you maybe?

    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Loch Ness, Scotland
    Posts
    17
    Hi Kev,

    Thank you for your thoughts on this.
    I'm primarily wanting to engrave rings, however I see a lot of posts of people having various issues when using a rotary axis on their fiber engravers.
    Seemless engraving often comes up as causing problems and engraving by following vectors seems to be surprisingly difficult.
    Which is why I though of incorporating the laser with one of my current cnc machines which cope quite easily with rotary jobs such as rings and can also manage more complex curved surfaces using full 4 or 5 axis mode if needed.

    One thought would be to get a typical off the shelf, galvo head fiber engraving machine and start simple;
    Use ezcad to set power and frequency and fire the laser at a single point, but find a way to interrupt the laser fire signal to turn the beam on and off externally, ie. treating it like a spindle from the cnc machine.
    I doubt it'd be as simple as that, but good enough in theory.

    For your big panels, I saw mention in a bjjcz manual of repeating the last job held in memory, so if you're engraving the same thing at different locations on your panel that would seem possible to automate by moving to location then using an output from the 5000XT to trigger it's engraving cycle ?

    Rab
    cnc-toolkit

  9. #9
    Rings are easy to engrave with a basic rotary and EzCad, as long as it's just text. For inside engraving hold with the jaws, then move the rotary to the left so the ring is about an inch from the lens center. Draw a small box a bit wider than the ring, then redlight it, and position it so it hits the bottom inside of the ring. Experiment with how far you have to move the box and/or the rotary left from center so that the beam will fully hit the engraving area at bottom of the ring but misses the top of the ring. This is where the beam angle of a galvo HELPS EzCad always home-positions the rotary from vertical dead-center of the work area, as such, center your engraving vertically.
    There's a trick to remember when engraving rings, a little thing called 'INVERT'-- this is necessary because the machine will engrave text in reverse order on the inside of rings if this setting isn't correct, same with engraving the outside, nothing sucks worse than seeing "!uoY evoL I" engraved in someone elses ring

    Engraving the outside, I use a tapered mandrel and hope - but I don't do many rings. Again, text is easy using the 'rotate text mark' function (I don't use the ringmark function), the rotate text function automatically moves the rotary for each letter, no fuss. If you intend to engrave graphics on rings, that can be problematic if the graphic is longer than can be engraved without moving the ring-- and a CNC won't help with this..

    I've done a few of these, I've gotten better over time, this was the first set of rings I ever lasered. As they say, if I can do it...
    rings.jpg

    To address the 'repeat job' in EzCad, (they call it REMARK) I discovered this function accidentally when getting my first Ebay laser. In your example of engraving my panels, the machine will repeat 'normally', just press the F2 button again! The purpose of the repeat job, best I can tell, is this: When engraving multiple parts, every time you start the machine, you disable EzCad, it is now busy streaming your engraving data to the controller, and awaitng a STOP command from you in case you need to stop. Once the part is done, EzCad is usable again. In many cases it's not a big deal, but suppose you're engraving 30 parts, and they take 30 seconds to engrave, and you have another job to setup; you can't setup the job while running the first batch of parts. But if you're using the 'remark' function, the machine engraves from the controller memory instead of your computer, so now your EzCad is sitting idle, and you can now save the job you're working on and set up your next job! Depending on the work you do, this can save hours a day in setup time! To make the remark work involves wiring up a separate start button or foot switch to the control board, piece of cake if you know how to solder. There is ONE catch to the remark function, you CAN'T STOP the engraving, other than by using the Estop switch. However, that's rarely an issue because using the remark assumes you have everything right as far as the engraving goes. But that doesn't help with putting parts on the machine upside down! That all said, I've never needed the remark function, since I have 3 fibers I'm not usually waiting on the one that's running...
    Last edited by Kev Williams; 09-22-2019 at 3:25 PM.
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Loch Ness, Scotland
    Posts
    17
    I can see how text would be relatively easy to engrave on a ring, however I engrave continuous designs which would have to be seamless throughout and to meet up seamlessly at the start/end of the design. If the ring moved around and the laser beam remained stationary that would bypass any limitations in ezcad's rotary capabilities.

    Sorry, but for some reason I can't view your rings photo.

    Rab
    cnc-toolkit

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    NW Arkansas
    Posts
    1,598
    Blog Entries
    1
    To view Pics, you need to be a contributing member, $6 per year min.
    I'll piggy back onto Kev, I've done probably a dozen rings. And probably that many more round objects.
    Text is easy, most other stuff is difficult. I've added small vector images to several rings, usually either side of the text.
    I've got local jeweler that I've worked with, She is a great engraver with decades of experience, but usually only does text now with drag.
    So I've got simple designs that I've helped her with.

    For your continuous engraving, good luck. I would say if you only have a few designs and can make each a separate file for each ring size, it will work well.
    If you are doing custom one off designs that change, it is more of an issue.
    I think stand alone machine is your only choice, and a 20 watt is fine for rings. I can cut plenty deep in silver and gold and titanium.
    Here are a couple I've done.ring3.jpg
    guesswhat2.jpg
    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

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Loch Ness, Scotland
    Posts
    17
    Thank you John,

    Still new here, I've just set up the annual subscription and can now see Kev's and your photos, they're nice clean engravings.

    Here's a couple of the rings I've made, all custom commissions;
    CJ324-preview.jpg

    SVT-Rings.jpg

    CJ305-3c.jpg

    Video; https://vimeo.com/361806033

    Rab
    cnc-toolkit

  13. #13
    The issue with rotary engraving 'long' graphics onto a cylinder shaped object using a galvo steered laser is the seams between 'splits'- because no matter how hard you try, it is virtually impossible to perfectly align the beam to the object- 1/100th of a degree of skew in the shape of the object itself or the angle of the rotary to the machine, or 1/100th of a mm of out-of-round, or 1/100th of a mm deviation in diameter, will result in seam misalignment--
    ba.jpg
    This is an SS water bottle I was experimenting with- note the seam lines, and to my point, you'll noticed the seams change size- in the bottom engraving toward the left side alignment was very good, but not so good on the right, the top engraving is horrible, and the seam spacing grows the farther left of the image, which is the opposite of the bottom.

    Now then, with something as small as a ring, this anomaly would be much less pronounced...

    There is a band-aid fix some use to counter this problem, which is to make the split distance very short, like .1 or .05mm instead of the 2-ish mm split in my example. This is a way to 'artificially' mimic the Y-axis movements of a gantry. It works, but because the laser has to wait for the rotary to move it drastically increases the engraving time. However, in your case, where you're likely not mass producing parts that are always waiting on the machine, who cares how long the engraving takes? The beauty of a laser beam, you never have to stop to sharpen it!

    I want to add to the use of the 'rotate textmark' function some may not be aware of-- you don't need text for it to work ... It will auto rotate and engrave ANY single object. Note that there's NO 'split' options in 'textmark', all rotation is automatic... example, suppose you draw up a ♠♣♥♦ to be engraved around a cylinder, IF you hatch fill all of them as a group, 'textmark' will engrave them all at once with no rotation. BUT, if you hatch each one separately and run it, the laser considers each the separate entity that it is, and will rotate to engrave each one separately, automatically. And the laser doesn't care where each entity is located, which is not the case when using 'splits'.

    Suppose you wanted to engrave these scrolls around a ring, note all scrolls are separate-
    sw.jpg
    using normal rotary modes, there's no way to avoid cutting the engraving in half because the scrolls overlap each other in the horizontal plane - But textmark will engrave each scroll separately, no seams ...








    .
    Last edited by Kev Williams; 09-23-2019 at 1:10 PM.
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Loch Ness, Scotland
    Posts
    17
    Thank you Kev, that's very useful information.

    I did find a youtube video of rotary vector engraving which would be seamless, but haven't been able to find out any more about the "BJJCZ marking while rotating board" used;
    https://youtu.be/CjTYmt3ExbE

    Rab
    cnc-toolkit

  15. #15
    cool-- I see one caveat, you won't be able to do that while rotating a 4 pound or so chuck! But there's ways around that of course

    and the 'must use BJJCZ marking while rotating board' means (to me) that a different controller board is necessary. But will this board also function as a normal board? Hmm..

    >edit<

    Found this- note that they recommend a servo motor. Also note, price not listed
    mwr.jpg


    .
    Last edited by Kev Williams; 09-23-2019 at 2:24 PM.
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •