I’ve used a 4” in-line fan vented out a window for years. Sine I’m venting warm air out the building I would expect that it has an impact on my heating cost. I rigged it so it only comes on while cutting.
I’m using a TD-100X but there are many fans like this now days. I know you can buy filters for Glowforge and Epilog high end units. I would probably add an air in line from the outside before going that route. This is for CO2. I don’t know what folks are doing when using diode style lasers.
Thanks, Well im planning on getting a Co2 soon, Just using diodes at the moment. Filters seem really exspensive so will need to see how much it will cost me. Preparing what I need for the work shop at the moment so when I order i am already set up. How do you find the 4" fan? would you go bigger? Thanks.
So I’m using a custom built machine that is very different from a commercial design. I had the air being pulled from the lower left but just moved it to the top. I found that the smoke lingered too much when roster scanning, mainly due to it not cutting thru. I actually took off one end and stuck the body over a big hole so it’s only 4” when going thru the duct.
I’m sure the machine manufacture would make a recommendation about the fan. But 4” is probably good enough.
Btw I tried using a bathroom fan a long time ago but it didn’t hold up.
I have 2 slots on each side on my honeycomb with this fan mounted (centered) on top of the machine. With the front door closed it pulls air from the bottom of the machine right on out. even works good with the door open. Pretty strong and versatile once you figure out the mounting. bought (2) 4" flanges and adapted directly to the fan and out with ductwork to an acrylic window i made with the attached second flange.
I bought the 80W version from Vevor last october. Beeing my fist laser and only using it as a hobby device, I think its good for this price.
But be warned - you don’t get a plug and play device. It needs “some love” until it is comfortable to work with:
Despite the pictures, the device was delivered without a honeycomb table. Working surface is a black painted metal sheet - which is not bad per se, but if you cut something the laser beam burns also the black paint and then gets reflected from the metal and burns your material from underneath. Furthermore, there is no way the smoke can escape (from the workpiece you cut and the black paint) and therefore all the dirt condenses also on the workpiece which leaves these nasty brown marks. I ordered a steel (to continue using magnets to pin down my workpiece) honeycomb table from Asia after less than 6 weeks…
Air management is sub-optimal. The fan is connected on the left side of the device and air is sucked in from every hole within the device. No plan for a decent air flow can be recognized. I “optimized” airflow by closing all holes I could find with blue tape and leave the service cover on the right side permanently open. With a strong enough fan - and here is the answer to your actual question: I bought this one: https://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B08MTGVFT4 - on maximum power you get a decent enough air flow to get most of the smoke out of the device before it condenses on the workpiece. You could use the fan that comes with the kit, t sucks like hell, but it is also terrible loud.
Camera - If you are used to have a camera with your laser, you do not want to work without anymore. I got this one: https://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B07GBT6XWM . It mounts within two of the air holes on the lid, right underneath the handle (the ones I closed with blue tape) and works flawlessly with Lightburn. Furthermore, it is small enough so that it does not collide with the laser head when the lid is closed. The cable can be routed on the right side of the lid, down to the laser tube, there is an opening down to the compartment where all the controllers are located. I mounted an USB hub down there, so I have only one USB cable to my laptop (this is not strictly necessary, but my laptop is low on USB ports)
speaking about USB cables - you can see on the pictures, that the device should have an USB-B connector to the control PC - mine did not. They used an USB-A male plug, and delivered it with an USB-A to USB-A cable. I learned that these cables are hard to get so in case of a cable problem you can’t go to the next store to buy a replacement. I removed all USB cables when I added the USB hub and got proper parts.
My laser tube is definitely B-grade. It is rated 80W, but only if driven beyond the maximum current (which they don’t tell you by the way). With the “usual” 26mA maximum current it is more in the range of 70W. And the gaussian distribution of the beam is very flat, so the penetration is not so great. 5mm plywood is about the maximum which cuts in reasonable quality, without getting too much charred edges.
A decent laser tube (most probably a RECI W2 - I heard only good things about them) is on my want-to-have-next-list on topmost position…
I also installed an Ammeter (https://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B006Z94V96). You can live without it, but you should at least measure the laser current once at different SW settings to get a table linking the laser power setting in SW with actual laser current, so you don’t drive your tube beyond the maximum recommended limit (this shortens the live span of your tube dramatically - at least that’s what I read…)
I changed the laser head, because I could not find a source where to buy a compatible spare lens tube. It is non-standard. You can use it with the included lens (focal length 1.5") but that’s it - no longer lens is possible. I replaced it with a Cloudray C-series head, which demands a custom-made mounting plate. About 1/2-day work with a saw, a drill and a file…
And finally, the disclaimer: Please note that I do not want to scare you away from buying this device by telling you how I remodeled my laser - I think it is great value for the price and I would definitely buy it again (but also change the same things again).
But I think one should know what it means to buy this device, and everyone should take his own decision depending on his use case and craftmanship abilities. There are enough people out there looking for a plug and play device, or need something which can start into immediate production and I don’t know if this is the right device for these requirements…
I guess this answer goes way beyond the point of your question, but I hope you get some additional info which may help you with your decisions…
I cant thank you enough for your detailed reply. Its people like you that make the world a better place. I knew there would be alterations that are needed but dint realize what would be involved.
Well if I wanted near perfect, I would pay 14K for a Thunder laser. As I am limited in funds, I have to deal with what I have and one of these would be a shorter start in getting into Co2 professionally.
Being a mechanical engineer working with building machines, I probably be ok with all the mods needed to be done to get the machine dialed in. The one thing that concerns me is the tube. You mentioned that the bean is very flat? How do you mean flat? I would of thought it would of been able to cut around 1/2". It seems like the laser machines are the same on ebay and I wonder if it is better to order from ebay. At least you get 6 months paypal cover with them. I;ll take everything you said into consideration and will also look on line to see what else there is.
I have a few months to get the work shop operational so should give me some time research.
Since you mentioned that you are an engineer, you may want to look into fabricating the machine. I welded my frame but the most popular method is aluminum extrusions. It’s more involved but you then know every aspect of the machine. Good luck.
In my case I wanted the mechanics to be OK because I am an electronics person and the abilities in my mechanical workshop are limited.
I accepted (and budgeted - a 80W Ruida tube is about 600-700€) that I may have to change the tube and hoped the best. In my case it went OK-isch. Even if the tube is b grade, it was good enough for my first learning experiences.
Just to give you an example - have a look at the attached picture. This test shows the energy distribution within the beam, it was burned with full power and without a lens.
I stopped after about 15 seconds because the hole did not get any deeper only the plastic was boiling more and more. Compare the picture with the test results Russ of the SarbarMultimedia youtube channel shows in some of his videos (e.g. RDWorks Learning Lab 228 Search for a Beam Collimator Part 1 - YouTube). During the first few minutes he explains the theory to judge the results. He has a machine witha 70W tube and he gets a 25mm deep hole in 10 seconds (see video at 4:45) where I get a 22mm deep hole in about 15 seconds. Furthermore, his hole is more pointy than the hole created with my machine - and these are the most prominent consequences of a “flat distribution”.
So, I have a 150W BOSS with the same cutting area. My recommended CFM is 500 cfm from them. This is pretty clutch, because my unit has passthroughs on all four sides, and is just pretty big with the added extension for the tube wattage.
Realistically, it depends on your use for the level of exhaust you need. If you are cutting thick pieces of material on the regular, go high. You can get away with 300cfm, but you will start to notice residue deposition on your interior surfaces.
I used to have a 1200cfm inline fan to vent out of my roof stack, but then I moved my shop, and currently use a BOFA filter setup because this space does not have direct access to outdoors. The BOFA has a max of 500cfm and I generally run it at 400cfm to keep it from struggling too hard.
Overall, I would say try to get something as powerful as you can if you plan on using your unit regularly. It will save you on the cleanliness of your machine. I rarely had any deposition on my mirrors for 5 years, and now I can see my efforts in my weekly maintenance.