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The question of what can be engraved with a given laser comes up fairly frequently. The problem is that the answer is dependent on more than just the power of a given laser. All that tells you is how much power the laser draws, and emits at it's focus point. Other factors include how reflective the target is in the frequencies of the laser. If you use a 2 watt red laser on black acrylic, you are going to get better results than if you attempt to use a 10 watt laser on a piece of aluminum foil. Besides the reflectivity, you also run into the question of heat transfer. a 2watt laser is likely to burn through wood because the wood will not transfer the heat absorbed from the laser faster than the material will suffer heat expansion related damage, where a 10 watt laser might have issues even etching polished metal.Another factor is going to be how well collimated the laser is. Not how well focused it is, but over how deep of a space that focus extends. This laser is at a fixed height, and from experience with this type of a laser, I'd be surprised if it was well collimated. As a result it seems unlikely to me that it can cut more than about 1/4" or 8mm material, and more likely not much more than 1/8" or 4mm.If you're thinking of going into cutting armor plate, you're probably not going to get the results you would like out of a 10 Watt laser. If you are looking to do custom engraving of grayscale images onto people's plastic iPhone cases, then you'll probably need far less than the 2-3 watts this instructable builds. Have fun, get an assortment of materials to test, and try different power levels. And as always be safe. Your retina is not designed to move the heat generated by absorbing the light emitted by a 10 Watt, or even a 30 milliWatt laser fast enough from the absorption site to prevent damage.
Yes, to some degree. With some target material, you end up reaching a point of diminishing returns where taking more time doesn't give you any significant advantage, and of course costs you in time. If you build a machine that matches the spcs someone else has built, you can share experience between the two of you, but you will probably find some differences even there. The differences between what you get with a different laser, or a different laser driver can also mean that one person's results won't match another's.Disclaimer, I've been working on building my own, and this looks like a great starting point. (I have a lot of the parts, just rather busy with other projects.
While I generally carry a couple of Gerber multi-tools, that are not expected to be TSA compliant, I have not had a problem with traveling with them in my checked bag. If my baggage goes wandering, I can usually get a replacement at a local Target or WalMart if push comes to shove. I'm likely to have to get several other things anyway, Toiletries, more clothing, etc. Part of why I set up a travel budget after all.
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