Author Topic: Laser cut vs. CNC  (Read 6858 times)

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Offline Hawaii00000Topic starter

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Laser cut vs. CNC
« on: April 01, 2010, 11:01:09 AM »
CNC vs. laser cut - Pros and cons

Can you guys share your experience in this area?
I'm mostly wondering about price, materials that can be cut, and the files that are needed.
Can both do 3D parts or just 2D.

I think I'm gonna Topeka it today and find out some prices etc, but any advice would be awesome.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2010, 11:04:08 AM by Hawaii00000 »
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Offline Razor Concepts

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Re: Laser cut vs. CNC
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2010, 12:04:05 PM »
The natural disadvantage of laser cutting would be 2d-only, but I prefer it because of the ease of use. First, no clamping at all, just place whatever material in the tray and it is done. Second, its basically plug and play. Adjust focus, select material, upload file, click go and it does it all.

CNC is more complicated due to the mechanical nature of it all, so expect more maintenance and setup time.

Offline vinito

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Re: Laser cut vs. CNC
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2010, 09:10:09 PM »
Laser cutters are CNC. I assume you mean CNC milling, so I'll go from there.

The other natural disadvantage of laser cutting is that it's harder to get that going home-brew style. At least without permanently blinding yourself.
I'm pretty careful and not too much of a dunce, but I think I'd want to get pretty schooled up on high-powered lasers before trying to fiddle with it at home. It's easy to think "I'll just always be super careful" but with a laser powerful enough to cut anything but foam or thin plastics & such (and actually even with something that "small"), you'd be blind in microseconds with just the smallest little complacent move.

I'm really, really tempted to try it, but that's one thing I will definitely leave to the commercial services.

Lasers do make a nice clean cut, but it isn't totally clean in metals like maybe wire EDM would do. Probably clean enough for most applications though.

They sure do slick work.

CNC milling takes a lot of knowledge about materials, tooling and clamping to do it well. But of course you can do "3D" (technically, not all, but most milling is 2D work in different planes, thus the quotation marks). I'm guessing that if you wanted to start from scratch, laser cutting would take less training to learn how to do it than what it would take to be good at milling.

If you want parts cut out and it's just flat plate with various shapes and holes, laser is a pretty good way to do it. Basically if you could etch your shape on a PC board, a laser cutter might be a good way to go. If you need pockets, recesses, threaded holes, countersinks or counterbores, etc., milling is likely the direction to look.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2010, 09:11:36 PM by vinito »

Offline Soeren

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Re: Laser cut vs. CNC
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2010, 06:49:36 AM »
Hi,

Perhaps take a look at water jet cutting as well.
Regards,
Søren

A rather fast and fairly heavy robot with quite large wheels needs what? A lot of power?
Please remember...
Engineering is based on numbers - not adjectives

Offline Hawaii00000Topic starter

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Re: Laser cut vs. CNC
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2010, 07:57:01 AM »
Thanks guys! I think I'd rather go with laser cutiing since I only need 2d parts anyway.
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Offline coldwaterak

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Re: Laser cut vs. CNC
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2010, 12:13:28 AM »
I just went down this road about a year ago and I fully urge you to take full advantage of learning everything you can...   it is really awesome what can be accomplished in your garage!  While laser cutting will be simpler...   you are really going to be limited.  Not only per 2d, but material, speed etc...   If you are going to put forth the cost of putting together a cnc you might as well go for a three axis mill that you could mount a laser to and do both.

I just completed a "Joes 2006" http://www.joescnc.com/  very capable if you are wanted to produce parts in that scale (2ft x 4ft)

For smaller robotic parts check this out: http://www.lumenlab.com/d/micro

With a little reading the control software Mach 3 and CAM software Cut 3d/Cut 2d (www.vectric.com) could be making anything you can think up.

Just food for thought.

Offline Hawaii00000Topic starter

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Re: Laser cut vs. CNC
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2010, 07:55:26 AM »
Sounds like a great skill to learn. I think the first time round I'll keep it simple and just take it to a factory that does it but it'd sure be awesome haveing one at home. Are they heard to opperate?
"God chose to make the world according to very beautiful mathematics."
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Offline Hawaii00000Topic starter

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Re: Laser cut vs. CNC
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2010, 01:59:21 PM »
Well I just watched some
video tutorials
by Michael Hancock about producing CNC files from sketchup. This method produces .cnc files. Is that the standard file that you send out to get cut. I called a company last week and they wanted .dxf . What the difference?
"God chose to make the world according to very beautiful mathematics."
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Offline Razor Concepts

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Re: Laser cut vs. CNC
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2010, 03:12:29 PM »
.dxf is the standard 2d drawing file, sketchup should be able to produce those.

Offline Asellith

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Re: Laser cut vs. CNC
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2010, 06:49:17 AM »
check out ponoko for a commercial operation that is easy to use I am using them to produce a bunch of simple stuff that is very handy with table top miniature gaming. Those guys are eating it up. I use inkscape to produce the svg files they need and it open source.

www.ponoko.com
Jonathan Bowen
CorSec Engineering
www.corseceng.com

Offline Anoroc

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Re: Laser cut vs. CNC
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2010, 01:43:26 PM »
I actually run both lasers and a router table. I personally prefer the router table because I tend to cut really thick materials. I also cut mostly PVC, which can NOT be cut on a laser (releases toxic / caustic fumes). Router tables do require some offset values due to tooling sizes, but software mostly handles that.

The main advantage to the laser is being able to do really small stuff. I don't care to use a router bit smaller than 1/8" diameter, so I'm limited in the respect that I can't cut nice and tiny parts.

I do have an alternative means to cutting my parts though, and I REALLY love it. Its a high force plotting machine. Here's a link to the one I use

http://scrapbookdiecutter.com/?page_id=41

It uses a small blade, and I can cut all sorts of material out of it. I like using styrene for really small parts, and this thing cuts it really nice. Its limited to rather thin material, but I just glue multiple pieces together. the best part is that its just as accurate as a laser, with no burn marks.  You can also draw and engrave with it, which is cool if you like doing some modeling, like myself.

Just a possible option for anyone dying to own a laser, but doesn't have like 5000 bucks laying around :P
« Last Edit: June 02, 2010, 01:45:29 PM by Anoroc »

Offline Hawaii00000Topic starter

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Re: Laser cut vs. CNC
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2010, 02:36:50 PM »
Quote
I do have an alternative means to cutting my parts though, and I REALLY love it. Its a high force plotting machine. Here's a link to the one I use

http://scrapbookdiecutter.com/?page_id=41


Interesting, I've seen one of those before.
"God chose to make the world according to very beautiful mathematics."
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Offline Anoroc

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Re: Laser cut vs. CNC
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2010, 10:59:54 AM »
I use mine regularly. Its great for prototyping :P

Offline vinito

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Re: Laser cut vs. CNC
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2010, 01:15:52 PM »
Here's a link to a bunch of free CNC software and stuff. Probably something you can use here. In most cases, the full-blown expensive CNC wares are good for when things get complex. Most CNC folks want to do is 2d on different planes, and folks have created various free programs to generate G-code for you.

http://cnc4free.org/
Look under "essentials". Tutorials are likely very helpful too.

(but there is some 3d software there too)
« Last Edit: June 07, 2010, 01:20:13 PM by vinito »

 


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