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How different is making a cnc mill from a laser cutter?

I am interested, after reading a good instructable about making a CNC Milling machine.
I also am interested in taking the bulk of that information and using it to make a laser cutting machine too. I know laser cutters only need 2 axis, but what sort of base would you want to use so one doesn't cut or engrave the cutting surface, and what other modifications would be needed?

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My laser has a bed made of T shaped aluminium, placed upside down.

You really need SOME Z control on a laser, even though you are only running in 2 axes.
seandogue6 years ago
In general, to protect the table, you use a sacrificial bed to place the item atop.
On a laser ?

For cutting? yes. I believe even laser cutters use sacrificial bedding to protect the table... I was working from memory on the laser side of my answer, but to confirm, I did a quick search...here's an example from the epilog manual for one of their systems:

Vector cutting is a continuous path that follows the outline, or profile, of an image. Vector cutting is normally used to cut completely through materials such as wood, acrylic, paper, etc. It can also be used for quick marking of characters and geometric patterns. You can vector cut with the laser by setting objects and text to be unfilled and drawn with a 0.001-inch (0.025mm) outline. The thin outline will produce a vector cut. When vectoring, use the vector grid or a pin table to protect the back of your material as well as your table from laser marking.


Seandogue is far too poor to be able to afford one, so Seandogue can't speak from direct experience with one of these marvels of modernity...

Seandogue sighs

rickharris6 years ago
The CNC machine will be a lot more rigid than the laser because of the side forces in using a router to cut.


You still need to move the material up and down as the laser has to be focused at the surface. although the laser itself only moves in x and Y.


your best option would be to a) get a look at a working laser cutter and note what goes on - YouTube Video is useful here b) check out the price on Ebay - you may find it's not that much more to buy one if your happy in fairly small sizes.

Rob3116 years ago
cnc mill requires a z axis.

cnc mill requires the structure to be sturdy, you will basically be pushing your heavy router against it and you don't want it to move.