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 Post subject: Re: DC-KIII CO2 Laser Cutter
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 9:21 am 
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Laser Engraver Classes

We are arranging to have classes on this unit in the near future. Please email Doug (Thorpedo on the forums) using esq37 at the --commercial domain belonging to -- yahoo, to be added to a list to be notified when classes are set up.

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There is also the option of leaving a private message on the forum. Or a public message.

***edited for spambottyness per wammies suggestion***


Last edited by Thorpedo on Mon May 14, 2012 12:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: DC-KIII CO2 Laser Cutter
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 9:33 am 
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Thorpedo wrote:
Laser Engraver Classes

We are arranging to have classes on this unit in the near future. Please email Doug (Thorpedo on the forums) using esq37 at yahoo.com to be added to a list to be notified when classes are set up.
Great! FYI, if you'd rather not reveal a personal email address, you can have people send you a private message on the forum. Also, the text "[name] at [email domain]" on a web page is easily picked up by spambot phishing programs nowadays and properly interpeted as an email address.

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 Post subject: Re: DC-KIII CO2 Laser Cutter
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 6:18 am 
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I redid the placement of the laser engraver downstairs last night (5/15) and strung a more permanent power cord solution for it over to the window area downstairs.

Somebody removed the laser engraver/cutter article off the blog front page for some reason.

I sent an email to the events tcmaker.org email address asking about setting up the class on the calendar, but have received no reply from Karin or anybody. I was hoping to have one on Sunday. Maybe the whole class system is not set up well since that guitar making class didn't make it to the calendar either.

In testing the laser cutter I discovered that the useful lasing area is most of the table, not just the spring board/open area in the center. However, we may have to do some table height adjustments to get the finest engraving quality when using the larger area since the focusing lens on the laser is not adjustable. The focus point is at a set point below the laser head.

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Is there any way that an LAN cable can be strung over to the laser engraver computer that Scott donated?

Unfortunately, I will miss tonight's (5/16) open house since I have a board meeting I have to attend.

- Doug


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 Post subject: Re: DC-KIII CO2 Laser Cutter
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 4:25 pm 
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Hi Doug,

Thanks for the additonal work on the laser machine.

I suspect the blog post about the machine was removed since it was thought that without details on classes and potential usage charges, people might get the idea the equipment was open game for anyone at any time. I did not remove the article myself; hopefully we'll be getting a direct explanation and the article can soon be adjusted and reposted.

It seems there was an oversight in getting the luthier class posted on the calendar. The board is convening soon again to solidify roles and responsibilities of TCM staff and hopefully we'll get this issue rectified.

I'll look at the calendar now and post the laser class listing as necessary.

Thanks Doug!

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 Post subject: Re: DC-KIII CO2 Laser Cutter
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 4:33 pm 
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... OK, I see now that you sent the request to the "events" email address, not the general "info" address. I don't have access to that events email account, AFAIK.

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 Post subject: Re: DC-KIII CO2 Laser Cutter
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 12:14 pm 
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wammie wrote:
... OK, I see now that you sent the request to the "events" email address, not the general "info" address. I don't have access to that events email account, AFAIK.


I was told that in order to set up classes, I had to email a Karin at the events email address. If that is not correct, please let me know. I still have not received a reply to my email to the events address. Which was basically asking what would I need to do to set up classes, such as this Sunday (5/20, probably too late now for that date).

Thanks for looking into this for me.

Image

Proof that the sausage idea would work.

Here is a good article (link) on making gears with a laser cutter.


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 Post subject: Re: DC-KIII CO2 Laser Cutter
PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 5:00 pm 
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Status update.

There was a blog post about the laser cutter on the http://tcmaker.org front page for about three days, until someone took it down under what are still confusing circumstances (politics?).

Working on improving the ventilation system with another fan and a through-window system to prevent fume blow-back. Thought I had a good setup last night but then the fan didn't run because of a bad motor. There is another fan but that one doesn't fit so well.

I'm trying to see if this proposal from the Hack Factory, to charge for use of the laser engraver makes sense. How many people would pay $1 for 10 minutes ($5 minimum) of use or 50 cents a minute Wednesday night ($2 minimum)? How many people would pay $40 for a laser engraver/cutter class? I've only gotten 3 emails from people interested in hearing when classes are scheduled. The events email address is apparently not being answered. The events coordinator is apparently AWOL somebody said last night.


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 Post subject: Re: DC-KIII CO2 Laser Cutter
PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 8:54 am 
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I took the stamp clamp out of the laser cutter so I was able to use the entire 8" x 12" laser work area. I cut out a TC maker symbol that was about 8" high and wide, but because of the low resolution of the image, it caused jaggies in the finished result. Is there a vector image of that available?

I worked out a process of converting a vector image for use with the laser cutter using Inkscape (link). Thanks to Adam for putting the Inkscape software on the laser cutter computer! There is also a blog article on using Illustrator (link). I ran a test by cutting out the capital letters of the alphabet from some clear acrylic. That worked pretty well, but because I need to find some back support some of the inside cuts were not made, such as in a P because the letters would fall free once the outside outline was cut, if that edge was cut first. I need to find out where I can get some of that mesh stuff to support the material I working on. It is not a big deal if you are just engraving.

Everyone I talk to says that charging the proposed use prices for use of the laser cutter/engraver doesn't make sense. No one will use it at those prices. To which I would have to agree since I myself would not want to pay those prices. Not that many people are going to use it anyway. What I wanted to use it for is to cut out parts for my robot projects, to supplement the Thing-O-Matic. But now I want to make some art with it also. Using a heat gun I have found that after I cut it, I can bend and twist the acrylic into some really interesting shapes using the heat gun. I really liked the laser cutter at The Mill, but at their membership costs I thought it would be cheaper to just buy the Chinese DC-KIII unit. It would pay for itself by saving money I would have spent on a Mill membership.

I thought that maybe some other people would be interested in investing in a laser cutter, which was the kernel of the first idea of going in and buying one with some other people, but that didn't seem to garner any serious takers. The second idea of getting some people together who wanted one and were willing to get a year membership so the Hack Factory would have the money to buy one didn't work either. Buying it isn't palatable to the Hack Factory, which wants a top of the line unit. The final idea I have is to just keep it and use it at the Hack Factory like the owners of other CNC machines do. That probably depends on figuring out a better ventilation system as the present fan system is too weak and allows too much of the burnt smell into the room. Maybe attaching a wet vac to it would work.


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 Post subject: Re: DC-KIII CO2 Laser Cutter
PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 12:06 pm 
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Hi thorpedo. I'll be throwing some money your way when I get back to the hf for consumables, teaching, etc. I think it was great of you to do all of this.


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 Post subject: Re: DC-KIII CO2 Laser Cutter
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 11:51 am 
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If anyone has a good ventilation fan that would be helpful. I saw one at AxMan for $27 but thought that maybe it would be too large. Speaking of consumables, I did some calculations...

Since the 40 watt laser tube is rated at 1500 to 1800 hours of use (after which point it will only be at 90% of original power) and replacement is only $168 to $200, it probably doesn't have a significant consumables cost associated with it. Even if you add in replacing mirrors and focusing lens. The 3D printer filament, welder wire, and the CNC router bit wear probably cost more in consumables than this thing does.

Even assuming that people were very productive and were firing the laser half the time they were using it (workpiece setup seems to take longer than the actual burn time) then we would have to have people on it 40 hours a week for a year and a half to two years to reach that point. Vastly more than any other equipment at the Hack Factory gets used.

However, I don't think that we will have more than a few hours of use a week at most. If people start to use it significantly then maybe consumables might become an issue in a several years. Otherwise we might be looking at 10 or more years before we need a new laser tube. And by then maybe they will have diode lasers for $20 at that power. Prices on these things keep dropping.

Therefore, I don't think there should be a charge for using the laser cutter because we don't do that for any other equipment, it would set a horrible precedent, and seems, to me, contrary to the philosophy of the whole TC Maker concept.

Image

I have pretty much decided to just retain ownership of the laser cutter/engraver and just let people use it after some training. A key benefit of that, is that when I do upgrades, to give it a larger work area for example, and if I accidentally break it, then I only broke my own thing, and no one can play victim.

- Doug


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