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Thread: Laser engravers 101

  1. #1

    Laser engravers 101

    I wanted an inexpensive laser engraver for marking wood turnings, (mostly small) and Ordered a portable NEJE unit. I have spent hours trying to figure out the soft wear and how to make a few custom designs. Everything seems to require an IT degree just to interpret into non-technical English. Maybe I am making this harder than it is, but the instructions are always couched in terms of ridiculously complicated jargon. I want to convert a few photos to line drawings. Also design a label/logo for my turnings. The laser is supposed to be capable of cutting 3mm plywood and I could cut the bottoms for the music boxes I make, instead of the rather inartful scroll sawing I am doing now. Perhaps I am just frustrated over not finding a tutorial that makes sense to my knowledge level. If someone can point me to a simple to understand instruction, I would appreciate it very much.

  2. #2
    Iím going to need a little more information, wattage of laser, model number of machine, software your using. The learning curve isnít too horrid with lasers, but they require moderate experience with graphic software (Corel draw, photoshop, etc).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    Montana
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    I hate to say it, but if you bought a cheap, low wattage laser, it may cut 3mm ply, but possibly not nicely nor in one pass. That being said, we will definitely need to know more info, like Chase said, to get a better idea on how we can help. One more note on ply.. it can be a pain in the butt even if you know what you are doing. The glue and voids can cause lots of issues when trying to cut and I prefer solid wood for its consistency, if I can. For software I use Corel Draw and did not have a graphics background. It seems like most businesses use either this or Adobe Illustrator and many others use Lightburn (which I believe is free and fairly easy to learn¬Ö but I don¬ít know anything about it). If you use Corel.. Doug Green has all the basics on his youtube channel and that is where I would recommend if you have that software. I have found the Corel video tutorial library quite useful as well. For laser basics, I YouTubed as much as I could, read tons of articles on this forum, read through Facebook groups and wrecked A LOT of product before I felt I had a grasp. All woods react a little differently and you will have to test each type to get your settings down. I like to buy some basic irregular pieces or 1x4 or something similar to test on a particular species of wood if I haven¬ít used it before. My first Alder plaque had a very detailed trex coin on it and I must have ran that design 20 times on my test wood before I liked what I saw and then Applied those settings to the actual plaque. The settings I used are still the ones I use for Alder today so it¬ís a lot of testing your ¬ďfirsts¬Ē and then WRITE IT DOWN! I wish I knew better instructional references to send you to, but it is really dependent on the software you use. It can be overwhelming in the beginning, so hang in there and just keep playing with the software and work through laser settings systematically. You¬íll start to get it little by little.. but it does take time if you don¬ít have a background in design. Cutting also requires air assist to make a nice clean cut, so make sure that is turned on. A lot of the bigger companies have reading resources and videos as well, and I found that I learned a lot of the ¬ďjargon¬Ē that way. There was one website that had definitions on it and I will try and figure out what it was and post the link when/if I do. Maybe it will help with learning the terminology.

  4. #4
    portable enough to put wooden turned bowls and platters, so I could "brand" the bottoms Won't be here until next week. It mentions Lightburn & Laser GRBL, as well as NEJE software. It's a NEJE Master 2 Plus 30W CNC Laser Engraver Cutting Machine Cutter 255◊440mm.

  5. #5
    A 30w will definitely cut and engrave, I just googled what you are using and I would definitely caution you to be careful. Lasers can be very dangerous, hence why all the commercial ones have interlocks. You can damage your eyes if you are not wearing the proper eye protection too (I believe 10600nm for CO2).

    I would probably steer you to Canva to create your designs, then import those designs into lightburn. Canva does have a monthly cost for the quality tools, however it has about the lowest learning curve out there and some good looking designs. Keep in mind the laser software does not care at all about the design and instead references specific colors in the design to know what specific action to carry out.

    I know lasers are expensive but I really think that if you bought what I googled it could be dangerous, on the low end k40s are generally accepted as the starting point for lasers then Chinese units then the best machines being a Trotec, Epilog, or Universal, but itís a significant price leap with each step. If you plan on lasering a lot, Iíd look for a quality Rayjet unit (Trotecís more affordable line) or a cheaply priced high end unit, it will be far less dangerous, much more reliable, and more capable.

  6. #6
    It is supposed to have auto stops for vibrations, upset, etc. Laser won't run until after focused has glass shielding around the laser. Comes with glasses too, Seems like it has quite a few safeguards. I use a table saw, even though they scare the beejeebers out of me. Something to be said for having respect for the dangers of a tool.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    Montana
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    26
    I couldn't find the reference that I was looking for, but I found a few websites if you google laser beginners guide a few useful links show up. Here is one that might help you get some terminology down and it looks like it has links to software info:

    https://makerdesignlab.com/tutorials...ginners-guide/

    It would be good to look up materials you can can cannot cut. Specifically PVC if you haven't came across something that has said it yet. Many materials give off harmful fumes during engraving so make sure you have a good exhaust system and avoid some of the nastier materials. I've also used Canva, that's a good idea, Chase. I don't typically use it for my engraving designs but my marketing and its really user-friendly. I think Canva's paid subscription is only $10/month.

  8. #8
    I looked the machine up again and it is a 7.5w blue light laser. I donít really know much about blue light so Iím not sure if it can cut and engrave and the limitations. Sarah is right though PVC and really anything with chlorine is toxic and should not be cut with a laser. Looks like lightburn is pretty good so Iíd import designs into that.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Iowa USA
    Posts
    3,764
    Those blue light lasers are slow and dangerous. They will engrave wood but cutting, no way. I had one and messed with it a long time before tossing it out. If you can cancel the order do so and order a real CO2 laser 40 watts minimum. Be careful of the online advice you get, some experts are not so. Get Corel Draw even an older one is better than paying $10 per month forever!
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa. , LightObject 40w CO2 Laser and Chiller , WorkBee 1000x750 CNC Router - Mach4 - Windows 10

  10. #10
    I've never messed with one, never even watched a video of one working so I have no clue about them.

    I DO know that Dave Sheldrake, our resident laser expert (who's been MIA for awhile) without fail recommended AGAINST buy a blue or green wavelength laser due to the danger to your eyes. If I remember correctly (and maybe I don't ) - he said that you can't even buy the things in the UK...

    THAT all said- I've been toying with the idea of getting one just to see what they're actually capable of. But I don't because with 4 fibers and 4 C02 lasers, I hardly need one, and honestly, even as small as they are I have absolutely NO place to put one!
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE- make that FOUR now - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Iowa USA
    Posts
    3,764
    Quote Originally Posted by Perry Hilbert Jr View Post
    portable enough to put wooden turned bowls and platters, so I could "brand" the bottoms Won't be here until next week. It mentions Lightburn & Laser GRBL, as well as NEJE software. It's a NEJE Master 2 Plus 30W CNC Laser Engraver Cutting Machine Cutter 255◊440mm.
    You really need to read the fine print that is 30 watts input for the entire machine !!! The laser module is rated at 7.5 watts out and that is inflated also as the largest diode module is only 7 watts with the rated amp draw the rest is blue sky... over voltage and driven over its rated current draw.

    Read here for correct info >https://jtechphotonics.com/?page_id=1422
    Last edited by Bill George; 09-14-2021 at 7:23 PM.
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa. , LightObject 40w CO2 Laser and Chiller , WorkBee 1000x750 CNC Router - Mach4 - Windows 10

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