I have a ~20 year old Emission Technologies machine, it’s a 2’x4’ 70W CO2 Laser cutter, that I used way back in the day to cut model airplane kits. The machine was a kit, so I’m pretty comfortable with doing a lot of DIY on it. Emission Technologies is no longer in business, so it’s up to me to figure out the best way forward. The machine has sat unused for the better part of 10 years, and I’m now in the process of getting it back up and running. I’ve had to repair and replace…basically everything. I’m not sure if I will keep the machine or sell it to clear out garage space - right now I’m just focused on getting it up and running again.
The current software that runs the machine is made by a company Solustan. It’s a fairly interesting solution, in that it basically turns the machine into a printer, so you can access it from a variety of programs. There is no gcode generation. This is nice in that I can nest a master file of cuts, and then just select the ones I want to make using File-Print Selected. The downside is that while Solustan is still in business, they seem utterly uninterested in providing any support, and solely interested in selling me a $1,000 upgrade to their new USB based solution. The current hardware is connected via the parallel port - so - very very old tech. The current machine is XP, but I have no problem putting a newer OS on that machine (it’ll work up to 8 I think), or finding some cheap/used machine to drive the cutter that can run a newer OS.
So, if I do upgrade, I’d like to upgrade to something other than the Solustan solution, but I’m not sure where to go from there. It looks like Lightburn can be operated in much the same way? Driven by the software interface directly, instead of having to create gcode and then load that into an interface?
One thing I like about the current setup is that I can get some SUPER clean cuts, because the laser power is actually driven by the current feedrate. So, as the gantry comes to a corner of a cut and slows down, the power is ramped down similarly. Is this possible in Lighburn?
I do all my design work in Rhino3D, and so I’d really just export as DXF out of Rhino and then import the vector linework into Lightburn. Does the DXF import support NURBS curves? Some machines will choke on NURBS linework, it would be nice if I didn’t have to convert all the NURBS into very small segment straight line polylines for import.
It looks like Lightburn does not work with old parallel port interfaces - that’s to be expected. What would folks suggest as a good all in one USB interface that works well with Lighburn? I’d love to get a simple all in one that has the stepper drivers and the rest all integrated into the box etc - limit switches, air assist output, yadda yadda. I’m willing to spend a little more to reduce headaches if need be.
Thanks in advance, so far this looks like the direction I’ll go if I upgrade.