Diode Laser - Recommended Hardware/Firmware?

(Stefan G) #1


I’m building a 10W diode laser engraver/cutter (for cutting cotton fabric mostly), at it looks like lightburn is the software to use! I’m currently set up with a Ramps 1.4 board I borrowed from an old 3d printer, but I’m seeing mixed things about it around here (and it was no joy for printing either). I use 32 bit boards for 3d printing these days (duets, not smoothie) and think I’d like to go for something better than ramps for cutting. Lasers not being my scene, I thought it best to ask this community if they had a recommendation for a board/firmware for a diode machine. It would need a minimum of 3 stepper drivers (and no more than 5, if I decide to integrate a z axis for focus or bed compensation). Please let me know of any thoughts!


(Anthony Bolgar) #2

A great board would be the 32bit Cohesion3D laserboard. It handles up to 4 axis, has trinamic stepper drivers and works flawlessly with LightBurn. You can check it out at :


(Stefan G) #3

Thanks Grump. To go in a slightly different direction, I use a duet Wi-Fi for my printers, which is an excellent board hardware and firmware wise (for printing purposes). My understanding is the big perk of smoothie is adjusting laser power to speed so corners aren’t overexposed from slowing down. So I reached out to duet and it turns out they’ve already built this into the beta of their firmware update. Is there any other reason to take cohesion over the duet? They’re about the same price point and their support and firmware is as good as anything I’ve used in my life. But, not being from the laser side of things, I’m not sure if I’m missing something that still justifies the cohesion board over the duet. Any input anyone?

(Ray Kholodovsky) #4

Last I checked Duet can’t raster engrave all that fast at all. The gCode it takes is based on Marlin, which is very verbose and not as efficient. Also, LightBurn doesn’t support Duet at this time.

Cohesion3D does do the things faster, as well as being purpose built for laser cutter control, and works very well with LightBurn.

If you do want to use the C3D to run a diode, there are some nuances to be aware of and I can point you to resources in the C3D forum.

(Stefan G) #5

This sounds odd to me, notwithstanding lightburn compatibility or lack thereof. Do you have any more information on this? They’re pretty comparable hardware wise, both high end TMC drivers, both 32bit 120mhz high end microprocessors. Printing g code is likely more verbose than laser g code would be, yet my printers on duet can print faster than a diode laser could possibly mark or engrave things, so I’m confused as to why swapping an extruder (which is more complicated) with a laser, would slow anything down. Any info on this?

(Ray Kholodovsky) #6

In short, Smoothieware and GRBL-LPC can take input in the form of G1 X0.1 S0.6 F6000 - this is because they actually have laser modules in the firmware that allow for the S value (power level) to be directly in the G1 move segment. When doing raster engraving, you are quite literally sending thousands of these lines per second, one per image dot. This is already considered quite verbose compared to how the real industrial controllers do it, but it works.

Last I checked, Duet’s firmware does not have such a thing, and laser control on Duet requires the “Marlin Workaround” way of doing it which is to set power on one line, then do the move, then set the next power level, then the next move. So this is a much more complex way of sending the data, and the throughput would be much slower. It seems ok for cutting, but would choke on engraving, where again, you have to send thousands of tiny pixels a second.

Source: I developed the Cohesion3D Board which has required me to be able to pretend that I know what I am talking about on this subject for the last 3 years.

(Stefan G) #7

Haha great! A knowledgeable source indeed. Thanks!