Are you looking for a new cnc laser cutter? Well finding one that will meet your exact needs can be hrd, but this guide will talk about what the best cnc laser cutter is, what to look for and all the different parts of a cnc laser cutter for your reference.
First of all, what are the crucial parts involved with a laser cnc cutter?
The table size is often the most important part as this really determines the size of project that you can work on. Of course, you could manually shift a project around or split it up into different pieces for it to be laser cut or engraved, but this involves a lot of work and experience calibrating material to get it exactly 100% right.
Most workable table sizes on laser cutters are about 32″ x 18″. But many vary, so always check what you will need to have prepared for the machine, or check to see just how big of a bed size you can get for industrial or smaller applications.
If you outsource this to someone who already has a machine, they may nest the parts together to minimize material usage. there usually are a ton of different sign writers available out there for this. All you would need to usually provide is a .dxf or .dwg file, but you will need to check this first.
The construction of the machine is important. You want to make sure that the construction is sturdy and that the appropriate materials are used. The best way to do this is see it in real life and see how this works on the machine as a whole. Sometimes cheaply machined aluminum is a viable option over finely milled steel to keep costs down.
Look and feel to see how sturdy the machine is, as sometimes cheaper materials can still do the trick.
This is where a professional machine really sets itself apart from a regular hobby laser. Hobby lasers sometimes require a lot of tweaking and a lot of time investment to get things going right.
Look for good alignment with the laser. Sometimes this alignment is fine to begin with, but gets damaged through shipping. This means you will need to make sure you buy from a good manufacturer who has good support. They way you can ask for help, instead of spending hours trying to fix a misaligned machine.
Most of the time, CO2 lasers are used for boring, cutting and engraving. There is another type of laser called the Nd-YAG laser, but this type of laser is generally used for boring and engraving as opposed to cutting.
Remember that a CO2 laser can be used to cut a variety of different materials, from paper to stainless steel and titanium. So you could definitely find a cnc laser cutter that will do the job for whatever kind of project that you may have.
Software for laser cutter cnc
You will need software to create a design and then software that will go with the cnc machine to change your design (dxf file) to g-code to cut your design.
For designing, I recommend using Adobe Illustrator for creating vector files, or programs such as AutoCAD for creating a .dwg or .dxf file. Inkscape is a great free open source alternative to Adobe Illustrator and supports exports for .dxf files that can be translated to g-code later.
Then of course you need software that translates the .dxf file to something the laser cutter will recognize and cut, which is called g-code. So essentially the software changes the design file to a usable file that will control the cnc laser cutter. Laser Cut 5.3 is a good piece of software for this, but requires a license.
Also to avoid having to buy your own machine or even leave the door, you could create the design for free using Inkscape and then upload it to Ponoko (a laser cutting jewelry site) and they will laser cut the design for you using the settings and materials you want and ship it to you. Now that is a cool custom made gift.
Homemade or DIY cnc laser cutter
Many people prefer or have made a hobby homemade cnc laser cutter for personal purposes. This can be done relatively cheap, but take a lot of extra time to build, calibrate and make a machine like this run reliably. Of course, this route is a time consumer, but it means you do not have to wait on a cnc laser cutter for sale, and just build your own.
What can the cnc laser cutter do?
Cnc laser cutters can cut many different materials. They can also engrave objects to create beautiful pieces of jewelry. Another thing a laser cutter can do is provide an accurate and fast cut for decals. If you can imagine it, you could probably do it with a new or used cnc laser cutter.
Also, for sign writing or smaller jobs, I suggest outsourcing to a competent sign maker, cnc service, or vinyl decal maker. This will save you the hassle of getting your own machine. Additionally, using an online service such as Ponoko is also a great option for those too busy to run around and get stuff done.
What are the best cnc laser cutters out there?
With so many custom made and hobby laser cutters out there, I am going to only focus on professional, commercial laser cutters that are available for you now. Below are my favorite:
Ihek – These guys make a good quality laser cutter and have been around for a while and have about half a dozen or so machines available to look at.
Epilog – Also another solid place, made in the USA. These guys have a solid product range and also have a free brochure r dvd that you can get to check out their products further.
Yueming laser – Based in Asia, this company has a good range of CO2 engraving machines and may be a good option if you are closer to Asia instead of North America.
MultiCAM – These guys are also really good, with a big range of bed sizes from 50″ x 60″ to 80″ x 240″.
So I would suggest using our guide above to see what applies to you, then narrow in on some of the brands that we have mentioned to make sure that you get the best cnc laser cutter for your project needs.