Zach Radding and his daughter Taylor with some robots he built using his own CNC laser cutting machines.
Check out http://www.buildcoolstuff.com/ to see more of his projects and info on the classes he teaches.

He's built two laser cutters so far.
Click on the little numbered pictures above to learn more about them.

Note: These are not fully detailed plans.
Included are part numbers of all the major components. If you have already built a CNC machine of some sort,
this information would help you adapt it for doing laser cutting. You should build a CNC router table before attempting a laser cutter. The book "CNC Robotics" from Tab books has good plans.
www.nutsvolts.com used to send you plans for two cnc machines with a subscription.
Zach recommends http://cnczone.com/ for homebrew cnc info. He likes Dancam cnc software.

Step 1: SAFETY

First some warnings.

The laser beam is invisible. It can blind you and your loved ones in an instant.

Here are the safety glasses Synrad supplies to work with this laser tube.

Read all the manuals that come with your laser tube and do exactly as they say.

The laser can start fires and generate poisonous gases if it shines on the wrong materials.
<p>how to convert my cnc router to laser cutting</p>
<p>hi all i have gerber cnc router cutting machine i wont it to convert as a laser and router 2in 1 in my machine</p><p>can u tel me how to convert and wht kind of part sued i change r put in my machine</p>
<p>Hi Zach</p><p>I am trying to build another Laser Cutter with a Roland GRX 400. I've read that you used the pen selector of the plotter to tell the laser controller <br>what sort of cut was expected. Please could you send me a photo of the system ant explain me how did you get it.</p><p>Thank you very much. (Sorry for my English)</p>
<p>I am a newbie into this product. I am looking for a cutting tool. Wanted to know if it can be done through laser. For example, I need to cut a branch of a tree (lets say 3mm to 10mm) thickness. If so, can I use the laser cutter and which laser cutter would be best according to your opinion.</p>
<p>Very impressed Zach. Apologies if you've answered my question elsewhere. I need to cut 3mm opaque ABS sheet quite rapidly - maybe 4000mm/minute. What power laser would you suggest please ? Is there a viable alternative to CO2 laser for this. I've seen 30W blue &amp; other diode lasers that claim to be focusable on Alibaba and elsewhere. What could these cut please ? I know nothing - less than Colonel Klink - about the cutting capacity of lasers. ps Absolutely gorgeous daughter. Enjoy her, our children are only 'on loan'.</p>
Thanks for those warnings. A lot of people (me included) don't really have experience with lasers and don't understand the full power they have.
the cutest lil baby on earth:)god bless her
I was reading your section on the blower... from experience I have learned to put the blower OUTSIDE in a weatherproof container. This way the entire line rom the laser to outside is negative pressure. If you have the blower inside... you may filter some of the smell... but the chemicals in the air can still reach levels to cause you harm in the long run. <br /> <br /> I use something like this:<br /> http://www.lowes.com/pd_283862-84396-17185300_0_?productId=3030374&amp;Ntt=deck%20storage&amp;Ntk=i_products&amp;pl=1&amp;currentURL=/pl__0__s?newSearch=true$Ntt=deck%20storage$y=0$x=0<br /> <br /> If the link doesn't work search for &quot;Deck Storage&quot; or &quot;Deck Box&quot;<br /> <br /> I made a lexan plate for my window and have the blower vent at roof level. The air I intake is clean and odor free.<br />
aren't you supposed to have the line from the blower lead outside?
not very well known, but you can get incredible mirrors by cutting them from harddrive platters. if you don't have a glass cutter, you could also use some of the aluminum ones. both are polished so that not a spec of dust is on them originally, i'd spray coat them as soon as you open the harddrive, or fingerprints will settle on them, but they're as perfect as you can get.
What would you use for a spray coat?
&nbsp;good question...&nbsp;
hard drives are shiny. also united nuclear sells tiny circular mirrors, less than on inch in diameter, and they're made for infrared lasers. they're in their death ray parts category...
Any chance of getting a look at the head mechanism, like a $250, 150watt 1200mm long laser tube is probably mounted horizontally, secured to the gantry right?. mirrored to/through the head to the work piece. Otherwise, I guess I`ll have to raise the ceiling...ha,ha, vertical mounting (might get wonky when speed picks up), OR... has anyone got any ideas?<br><br>Cheers :)
on epilog/universal lasers, its mounted inside/behind the machine, then a mirror or 2 reflect it toward the front of the machine, along the left side, where it hits a mirror mounted to the gantry, making it go toward the right of the machine. then a mirror on the head reflects it downward, through a lens, onto the material
Hi, I'm interested in cutting metal sheets with the help of lase beam, I would like to know how does the CNC&nbsp;system (or)&nbsp;any servo system comes to know whether the metal sheet is cut&nbsp; or not so that it can proceed for further cutting
&nbsp;it does not &quot;know&quot;. you input settings for power of the laser and speed of the movement, and it cuts however much it cuts. there are suggestions about settings for certain materials probably floating around on the internet, but much of it probably just comes from experience with the tool
Thanks for the info.
This question doesn't have anything to do with your project, but rather your experience with lasers. <br/><br/>Right now it's like a blizzard outside. annndd I was just imagining up a possible way to drive on snow covered roads by building a rig to melt the snow under the front of my car with a laser. what are your thoughts on this idea ? I saw some patents with similar ideas (not on a car) but havn't heard of any commercial products. Can lasers be powerful enough to rapidly melt or even vaporize snow ? <br/><br/>Thanks =) <br/>
<a href="http://unitednuclear.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&amp;cPath=27_82&amp;products_id=534" rel="nofollow">unitednuclear.com/index.php</a> just put two on the front of your car and you'll be riding in style (or arrested I don't know which)<br />
I DO belive that they can be powerful enough, and it sounds like a legit plan, but maybe you should clear it with the government first to see if its ok with them. it might be pretty damn hard to make a laser that strong though......
&nbsp;haha i bet the&nbsp;government&nbsp;probably has that already, only they use it to kill people....
To melt all of the snow in front of you at the speed of a car would take far more power than moving the car itself. You would need some kind of diesel generator as well as your car's engine to produce the wattage to feed something like that. Next, the snow crystals would diffuse high-energy laser light, permanently blinding everyone around for hundreds of feet in all directions.
so this instructable is still in the works? I'm eager to see the source code for the PIC16C74. Will you publish that also? Are those lasers readily available? For how much can I buy one? -peace
I found the price of the laser you're using... $2,000. Did you actually buy it, or was it a scrapped part? Can't you buy a simple laser cutter for $2,000? Just curious.
$2K? Ummm, not so far as I can tell. I did some web-searching on the subject a while back. For <$10K you seem to be able to get a 25W 8x10 inch, Windoze-only unit. Now, that isn't bad if you are willing to work within the power, size, and software limitations. These are targetted at engraving shops for trohpies and gifts and what-not. The sweet spot in terms of functionality of interest to a hacker seems to be sort of $15K-$20K, which should get you 18x24 inches and 100W in something you can drive with G-codes. 100W will cut a lot of interesting materials, but not shiney metals.
Well, that sucks. Most of my post got whacked off. Does the software not like "less-than" symbols? Better file a defect report. Back to my comment: For under $10K you can get a 25W or so 8x10 inch Windoze-only unit. These are targetted at engraving shops. Of more interest to hackers, in the $15K-$20K range you can get 18x24 inches and 100W in something you can drive with G-codes. This will cut a lot of interesting materials very nicely, but not shiney metals.
It probably thought the brackets were HTML code and removed them.<br />
100W CO2 laser will easily cut sheet metal with a polarized filter
I have a 12x24 inch 35W unit... it cost me $16,400 so I can beleive that a 25W tube would be $2,000 with ease. I'll say this... if you are considering any laser engraver/cutter... don't settle for less than a 35W tube. If I were to do it over... I would have bought a 50W unit. The 35W isn't really enough to do metamark... and sometimes when I'm doing 1/4 inch plastic I need to either run at 1% speed, or make two passes. (I cut some parts that took 1.5 hours... it would have been about 1/2 hour with a 50W, likely 20 minutes with a 75W.) Great project though... at some time I want to build an X/Y table in the 4x4 foot range... and actually have the laser head on the gantry so the distance from the laser to the part remains constant. In my current Epilog unit, when the head is in the lower right corner the beam length is 3 feet, in the upper left corner it is 6 inches... so sometimes I have to adjust cut speed so the lower right corner cuts all the way. With a constant distance... you don't have those issues. Jerry
How heavy do you think the laser head would be - the way the head moves around a 50watt gantry might end up looking like a waterjet cutter. Maybe moving the laser with the "gantry axis" would be good. ( I don't know what to call it. on some machines it's the X, on some it's the Y. The motion axis that carries the other one)
I'm not sure. My thought was to mount the head and transmit the power via a fiber optic cable... moving the actual head would be option #2. It would likely be much slower... but considering that the laser is faster than a cutting head (mostly) it would be about the same as having a big plasma or drill head. Jerry
&nbsp;...... couldnt you just have the laser static and move the work piece around underneath it?
You could, it depends on what kind of speed limitations you are willing to deal with. On my Epilog unit in raster mode, it swings the head back and forth about 100 times a second to create raster art. Doing vector art it ouwld only need to move at up to about 20 IPM or so. Routing the laser energy via fiber or mirrors allows you to move a 4 oz head ves a 15 lb head.<br /> <br /> ~ Jerry<br />
I have an Epilog laser. The laser itself is static, but mirrors direct the beam where you want it.
Where do you purchase one of these units? Directly from Synrad?
great job, this is awesome, but if only i had the money and time to find all these parts!
Me too..... *Sigh*
I'm planning to build a laser etcher out of a printer (rest assure, if it works out properly an instructable is to be expected).<br/><br/>However, I don't have a clue at all on making the laser part. What laser should I use? How can I supply it?<br/><br/>I've looked quickly and stumbled on this: <a rel="nofollow" href="http://cgi.ebay.com/60W-CW-High-Power-Laser-Diode-Bar-808-812nm_W0QQitemZ270394760971QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item3ef4c89f0b&_trksid=p3911.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1205|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318|301%3A1|293%3A1|294%3A50">ebay link</a><br/><br/>Is that the kind of thing I want?<br/>Remember, I am starting from scratch. What I already have is the X and Y axis, all I need is the laser part of the laser etcher machine.<br/><br/>Thanks! I badly need help about this :)<br/>
Has anyone seen good plans for a homebrew CO2 laser? Made one? Had a job making them?
<strong>A website called Information Unlimited has plans to build CO 2 burning lasers. </strong><br/>
this site has all kinds of information, including kits and pictures and reviews of kits, design tables, safety advice, where to get supplies, everything. Except perhaps detailed info on the gas regulation.<br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.repairfaq.org/sam/lasercc2.htm">http://www.repairfaq.org/sam/lasercc2.htm</a><br/><br/>and this site has a wonderful pdf on making a 35W CO2 laser. the pick of my late-night web surf:<br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://repairfaq.cis.upenn.edu/sam/rconway/">http://repairfaq.cis.upenn.edu/sam/rconway/</a><br/>
This is great but change the name to people who have money home brew or something along those lines lol. I mean you spent a lot of money on this lol. But great post otherwise.
i think ill make one tommorow.
ummm MY head HURTS
Nice project! But kinda expensive...
I get a warm fuzzy happy feeling inside everytime i see instructables for laser cutters that show me parts that i want to use but was affraid they would be in-adiquate. I really really want to build one of these within the next 2 years.my primary target material is going to be Balsa Wood.some nice fast cuts would be good,im thinking somewhere in the range of a 40Watt laser should be good. I have a MM2001 interface for my CNC Foam cutter,it would be so cool if i could hook that up to some different software and use it on a laser cutter :P thanks Zach,you really made my day
is it just me or are most of the pictures missing?
Johnny 5 and you make a pretty cute kid!
Great Instructable Zach! The parts I loved were in the X,Y,Z portion. I like you take on machines/gantries for a project like this. I so far am a bit scared of lasers. I do like plasma though.<br/>I also instruct others. I have made a number of tutorials on various CNC Projects. I like to walk people through each step during the CNC Process. I get great feedback from people just entering our cool CNC Hobby.<br/><br/>Here are the videos:<br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.cncinformation.com/CNCBlog/">http://www.cncinformation.com/CNCBlog/</a><br/><br/>Then click on the link on the left.<br/><br/>Thanks for your contribution,<br/>Ivan Irons<br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.cncinformation.com">http://www.cncinformation.com</a><br/>

About This Instructable




Bio: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of www.zcorp.com, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output ... More »
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