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Rich Z's Blatherings Since Connie and I have retired the SerpenCo business, topics here will focus on topics of a more personal and general nature.

Maybe found a new hobby
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Old 04-25-2022, 03:40 AM   #1
Rich Z
Maybe found a new hobby

Always been fascinated by lasers, so when I saw that prices on laser engravers have been coming down, and one caught my eye, heck, why not? What I got is a diode galvanometer laser, and quite compact. Called a LaserPecker 2, of all things. I'm not sure how many people would understand (and not giggle) when I tell them I have one. It has a 5 watt laser, which is quite modest, but still can do a number on certain materials. You CAN light the material you are working on, on fire with one of these. I originally wanted to try to engrave some machined metal parts I have, but evidently (and as I found out) that requires a different type of laser. A pulsed fiber laser, to be exact. And those start at around 20 watts output before they get useful.

Anyway, just played around with it a little bit over the last couple of days, but I can see where experience will be necessary to be able to select the correct settings for a particular effect you want to achieve on the material you want to work with. LOTS of trial and error, apparently.

First two are on a scrap piece of plywood I had laying around in the garage. The second two are a couple of folding knives with the engraving done on the plastic. Steel doesn't leave a hint of a mark even at full power. Supposedly stainless steel will take a mark, but haven't tried that yet.

Wonder if I can put a fiber laser in my garage?
Old 04-25-2022, 10:10 AM   #2
Those are really cool!
Old 04-25-2022, 03:11 PM   #3
Very Cool! Can you post a picture of the actual laser engraver please?

Old 04-25-2022, 03:56 PM   #4
Rich Z
Here is a YouTube video showing the one I got.

Bear in mind that the actual engraving is sped up considerably in the video, so don't expect them to be THAT quick.
Old 04-28-2022, 12:48 AM   #5
Love these! well done

Old 09-15-2022, 02:42 AM   #6
Rich Z
Had an idea for my larger fiber laser. I watched videos of people engraving coasters made out of slate, so just for grins, I bought some to see how well that would go. Went through quite a few of them just experimenting, and I had a LOT of trouble finding the right settings to get a deep engraving into that rock. Oddly enough, the laser would just melt the rock, leaving shiny globs all over the design I was trying to engrave. Very unsatisfactory result, as those melted rock globs would leave a very rough and unclean looking finish on the surface.

Not sure exactly what I did differently with the following videoed job, but whatever it is, I am getting exactly the results I was after. I have to take some notes about EVERYTHING about the settings for this job so I don't lose the magic settings for other designs. This is going to be for my niece and her husband who have horses. Kind of long, but I found I am fascinated watching that laser work, and have already watched this through, beginning to end, several times already. Watching via a video is MUCH safer than watching it in real time. I use protective glasses to protect my eyes from the infrared laser beam, and besides running an exhaust fan to pull off the rock dust generated, I also wear an N95 mask too.

Oh, this is in 4K/60fps if you can view it that way.

Only have one more to do, and I will have a set of eight to send to them. Takes about 22 minutes or so per coaster. The noise that sounds similar to music in the background is me plinking around on my arranger keyboard while waiting for the engraving to finish. Fortunately for you, you really can't hear it all that well.
Old 11-06-2022, 01:34 AM   #7
This is so interesting to see in action, and looks really great! Are you drawing your own designs for it, or are there places where you can get files for that?

I'd done printmaking and lithography by hand a lot in my past (and currently still do block prints), so while different, I get how addictive making objects like this can be (and how when you finally get it right, you want to remember exactly how you did it!). The result looks really great.
Old 11-06-2022, 08:47 PM   #8
Rich Z
There are places online where you can get designs, but they won't always be in the file format needed for the fiber laser. I had to buy a copy of Corel Draw to help with a lot of file conversions that EzCad itself doesn't work with at all, or work well with. And there have been some files I just could not get to work at all.

Artists would be able to make their own designs, and you can even convert from a raster image to a vector image when needed. Does take some work and trial and error sometimes. I was actually able to get the fiber laser to directly do a raster image, but it is highly dependent on the material you use to engrave upon. There is a pretty steep learning curve with this laser stuff. Every image needs different settings, and every material you use also needs particular settings. I would hate to have only a single item to work with and nothing to use as a test material to match. Maybe with lots more experience I could get what I wanted on the first try, but I am far from having that sort of confidence.

For instance, my first attempts at deep engraving on those slate coasters just wound up producing globs of melted rock. Looked awful. And even getting the "correct" setting, you need to learn that there is a point where you have to just shut off the laser. You can go too far sometimes. Less can be better in a lot of instances.
Old 11-10-2022, 04:39 PM   #9
That makes sense! Really interesting how it can turn out, and I'd heard before they can be very finicky. I don't have a laser cutter, but have thought about learning how to make designs and seeing if others want to use them (I do illustration, etc.).

Your result looks really nice! Hope you keep posting your projects. New hobbies can be really addicting, huh?
Old 11-10-2022, 05:24 PM   #10
Rich Z
I learned long ago that I am not an artist. I cannot create a design, but I can look at an existing one and know how I would like it to be changed to what I want. Sort of like how an engineering technician will take an electronic design from an actual electronic engineer and make it WORK.

I don't have much interest in the CO2 lasers, even though they would also work on rock, but they will not work with metals. They are also really good for wood, but the little diode laser I have will engrave wood, and it creates a LOT of smoke. I actually had to buy a larger fume/exhaust fan for the fiber laser, as rock dust from engraving the coasters was getting every where. The original small fan I got just was not strong enough to do much, whereas the new one seems to be working really well.

A friend of mine came over last week and I showed him the laser and the engraving I had been doing. He really liked them and said I should sell them. Heck, LAST thing I need is to paint myself into a corner becoming a business. I would enjoy doing the lasering, but selling and sending out the products would be a pain in the butt. So I just have to worry about reaching the point where I send too many of these things to relatives as gifts and they have to think of a subtle way to tell me to cease and desist.

Hmm, I wonder if Connie would mind if I engraved all her silverware?

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