How long is too long for my diode laser?


I kind of new to the laser engraving world and I have a piece that’s gonna run for an extended period of time (about 60 hours) is it safe to let my diode laser run that long at about 60 or 70% power?

Is it a very big project, with a very slow speed or lot of passes? Cut or engrave?
A run of one hour is already quite long. Maybe you can reduce your time, depending on the project, the settings, etc.

I think there are two fundamental questions here.

  1. Will the machine operate properly for 60 hours continuous?
  2. Is it safe to leave the laser operating unattended for MANY hours?

#2 assumes a single operator/user that must sleep, eat, let the dogs out, lavatory calls, etc.

Can of worms…opened…

The longest single continuous job I’ve run to this point is about 6 hours. 10% of your projection. The laser did fine. I worked on other things nearby, but never more than a few steps away. The day passed without incident, the piece turned out nice, and the laser never showed signs of stress.

Every person and every machine will be different.

I have left my FDM 3D printers run unattended continuously for maybe 18 hours…but there’s much lower risk of fire with those. If the print head hangs, I get a huge, expensive ball of noodles or an alarm. If the same thing happens to a laser…hopefully an alarm and a self-extinguishing fire…hopefully…

I cannot cut down on the time anymore than I already have for this project. Anytime I use the “fill” option in LB the art looks great but it takes so long to run it. If I use lines it doesn’t fill in any of the shaded parts on my art. I’ve ran a couple of lengthy projects that have taken 20 hours or so but nothing ever this long. The laser is not shooting and engraving the entire time just part of it but the stepper motors will run for the entirety of the run

From a machine perspective, 20 hours isn’t significantly different than 60. The steppers, boards, and laser should reach a stable temp within an hour unless job parameters change significantly. For example, increasing speed and/or power as the job progresses. I’d think if you can do 20 without issue, you can do 60 just easily. It just allows more time for something unexpected to happen. A cut piece dislodges and jams up a belt, the power fluctuates, a comms issue causes mayhem, etc.

Thank you for the reassurance. I kind of figured I would probably be fine seeing as 20 hours doesn’t feel much different than 60 other than time spent. I mostly mark on the weekends when I am close to the machine at all times, but want to start running somethings during the week with a camera in my enclosure where I am able to remote in to the laser and shut it off if needed.

Also I am only engraving not cutting so nothing should dislodged and wedge up my laser head. Gonna let it run a 24 hour project to see how it does first and stay close

Just do a realistic risk assessment and never tell your insurance company (not that it would matter after the fact, should the worst happen).

If there were ever a time and place for an enclosure automatic fire suppression system, this is it!

And that’s my nanny speach ended.

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You should be able to hit pause for the occasional lav break or nap time. then resume. It should pick up where it left off.

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Theoretically yes, I should be able to do just that but I cannot. It worked for me one time and the rest it never starts back up after I unpause it. I’ve tried a few times and always ends up in me having to start my project from the start or completely from scratch in some cases.

I’ve noticed that there can be large differences in time between having flood fill on and flood fill off (flood fill on always seems to takes longer). Have you checked the difference between the two?

I’m curious. What is the project. Maybe we can help more if we knew what you were making.