Assembling a custom laser cutter, need help

I would like to build an 80W CO2 laser cutter and already bought build plans but I would like to have an addon for a mechanism that can move a fixed length of textile fabric from one roll to another and basically rolling out the new textile after the laser is done cutting the current work area.

I am thinking of some kind of mechanism that pulls and stretches the fabric from a fixed starting point to a fixed end point that could be activated through a sensor, what controller would you suggest I could use for that and could I use the u or z axis for this, or would it just be better for a manual switch to activate the process each time?

The controllers used most of the time are for controlling a laser.

Other things like your request is pretty much ‘not relative’ to what the controller is doing as far as driving the laser.

I’m afraid you’ll probably have to ‘press another button’ for ‘extraneous actions’ to occur.

Most of these controllers will tell you when the job is running (‘Status’ sink on the Ruida controller). You might be able to use it, knowing when it goes high, it’s finished it’s run.

I think you’d be better off with an external operator switch.

Good luck


My memory isn’t what it once was, but I recall making multiple cuts by changing a setting “somewhere,” although it might have been RDWorks, then increasing the feed value to provide a pause in the laser, giving sufficient time to swap out work pieces.

This implies that there’s a feed option somewhere in the controller. For example, I would set a value for ten copies/burns and figure it would take me 20 seconds to swap material. With a feed distance of 400 mm, and 20 mm/second, I’d get my 20 seconds.

Those are only example numbers and I’ve been away from RDWorks for so long, I couldn’t begin to figure out where to look in LightBurn, but I suspect there’s something there.

Perhaps you can add a stepper to an open controller port and have the feed parameter trigger the stepper. You’d have a connected feed and take-up roller system in place, or just the feed motor and a friction system on the feed roller.

Laser controllers are designed specifically for controlling laser functions. They might be able to send an external signal at some point during the cycle.
If your running steppers and reading sensors I think the best route is a microcomputer like Arduino. Many other options. You send it a signal and it handles all feed motion.

Laser controllers, at least the Ruida controller in my laser, also control things like head movement (steppers) and bed movement (steppers). My controller has a U-axis port, which a search shows that others have used it for a rotary device.

In my experience working with machines, is safety first.

Having a machine actively moving while you are changing materials, then firing the laser, based on a time delay is not what I’d call a good or safe idea. In fact I would call it a very ‘bad’ idea. Trading time for safety… :frowning:

Although I keep my machine opened up, I don’t stick any of my extremities in it when it’s operating.

There are Z and U axes output from most of these controllers. The Ruida has both. It’s probably possible to use these, but I don’t know what kind of control you need on the material and if there is an ability to control those axes to the extent needed by your ‘addition’.

Good luck


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