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I want a dtfb cutter. What now?

BS projects inc.

Well-known member
#1
So recently I have wanted to bring some of my rc designs to a more professional level and I have saved up the funds to start doing that. I'm willing to throw down 750$ for a laser cutter with cutting dimensions of at least 20" by 30", which one do I get? I do have experience with CNC machines and operating them but I am new to using a laser cutter. I plan on learning how to adjust settings for a laser cutter and how to operate on responsibly but for know all I want to know is what is the best option for my budget and requirements?
 

kilroy07

Well-known member
#3
Well.... I'll try to help if I can.

When you say
I do have experience with CNC machines and operating them
do you mean that you have built one yourself?

See, the problem is mainly the working are you mentioned. For a commercially available cutter you are looking in the $1500-2000 range (50 watt CO2 lasers) which is probably what you want, but WAY over your budget. See below for an example of my cheap Chinese machine, US based will be at least twice that figure (but higher quality...)

You could go with a really cheap K40, but the working area is about 1/4 what you are wanting (but the prince is right at around $300.)
Here's an example of someone on the forums that has started on this journey;
https://forum.flitetest.com/index.php?threads/so-i-bought-a-cheap-40w-laser.55664/
I don't think he is expanding the working area though, he has a needle cutter based on the MPCNC for foamboard.
Here's a link the probably the longest running forum on here;
https://forum.flitetest.com/index.php?threads/cutting-foam-sheets-with-a-needle.24251/

Some might suggest diode lasers, but I don't think they will have the power you are really going to want.

So, IF (and I do mean IF) you are comfortable building a larger XY system, you could rip the guts out of the K40 and get the working are you want.
Know that CO2 lasers are INVISIBLE and can seriously harm you, your eyesight, cause fires... the list goes on (so know the risks!) AND be prepared to build a FULL enclosure (out of metal... CO2 lasers won't cut metal.)

That said, there is NOTHING like spending 20 minutes cutting foam and having a full kit ready to go!! (it really is awesome!)

FYI, this is something like what I have. They are REALLY 50 watt machines (per the tube length) but you see them everywhere as 60s... :rolleyes:
I just upgraded mine and had to build an extension 'cause the tube sticks out about half a foot with a real 60 watt tube.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Laser-Engr...=item2cb907ddcc:g:YDEAAOSwdnZaJPiQ:rk:13:pf:0

The K40 will have (30-40 watt) will have more than enough power to cut foamboard and up to 1/8" plywood (firewalls, control horns etc.)
The plywood will most likely take a couple of passes (and lookout for the outdoor grade stuff, the glue they use in that is CRAZY!)

I don't want to dissuade you! I just want to be frank and honest so you know what you might be getting yourself into.
 
#4
I am fortunate to have a couple of larger format CO2 lasers... I will second what Kilroy had to say. There are a lot of ways to loose money with acquiring a low end laser.

Unless you are handy & want to spend a lot of time tinkering... can I just suggest you find someone local & get them to cut it for you. Probably a lot cheaper in the end. A decent Chinese machine will certainly cost more...and that cost will be going up with the US withdrawal on the postal treaty.

A decent forum where the pro laser guys hang out is at sawmill creek...(I know ...a woodworking site but there is a laser engraving forum) you can learn a lot by just reading & chatting with that group.
 

BS projects inc.

Well-known member
#5
Thank you for the responses but I don't think I'm in the position to build one or spend 2 grand. By "having experience with cnc machines" I mean that I can operate one safely. If somebody were to just makes a bigger k40 they would make a fortune! Either way thank you for the responses, I think I will have to pursue this when something in my budget or within my skills comes out. Thanks!
 

kilroy07

Well-known member
#6
So, I thought about this overnight.

I think you should at least look into a needle cutter based on the MPCNC. If you don't have a 3D printer (or access to one) let me know, I can print out the parts for you...

The benefits are you can make it ANY size you want (actually, with hints of "Super Sized" foamboard from Flite Test circulating) I might just look into building another one myself!
It's well within your budget (probably $400 total)
And there are a ton of people to help support you.
In fact I think I saw just the other day someone starting a build.

So, if you can build a FT airplane, I think you could tackle this project... Besides, some people prefer needle cutting to lasers because the laser has a bit of undercutting where the needle doesn't (cleaner edge.)

Just food for thought!
 

BS projects inc.

Well-known member
#7
So, I thought about this overnight.

I think you should at least look into a needle cutter based on the MPCNC. If you don't have a 3D printer (or access to one) let me know, I can print out the parts for you...

The benefits are you can make it ANY size you want (actually, with hints of "Super Sized" foamboard from Flite Test circulating) I might just look into building another one myself!
It's well within your budget (probably $400 total)
And there are a ton of people to help support you.
In fact I think I saw just the other day someone starting a build.

So, if you can build a FT airplane, I think you could tackle this project... Besides, some people prefer needle cutting to lasers because the laser has a bit of undercutting where the needle doesn't (cleaner edge.)

Just food for thought!
I have actually looked into building the 3d printed low-rider. I have built 2 3d printers and have a few years of experience with them but I have never done any of the programming or software and stuff for them, that is where my expertise ends. If I do build a needle cutter I want to know for a fact that I will be able to finish it so I don't end up with 400$ worth of hardware that I can't get to work. That is a good point though, I will definitely be looking into it.