Looking for some advice from more seasoned laser users, any and all input is helpful.
Have a 5.5w optical diode laser (had for about a year) really enjoyed it and starting to get to end of life. Wondering what you’d recommend for replacement laser.
I like the idea of more power but wondering at what point do should I just save my $$ and buy/build a C02. I don’t do any cutting just engraving (could never get a clean cut)
Current set up 5.5watt optical Diode Laser engraving area 15" x 48", typically doing engraving primarily on cabinet doors so need to be able to engrave close to this size. I assume more power would mean I could do these jobs faster or at lower power.
I have picked out a couple diodes that should be just a simple replacement
LASER TREE 20W Optical
If you must engrave an entire panel in one operation, you’re looking at either:
A really big (pronounced “expensive”) machine
A smaller machine with passthrough hatches
The latter is probably the most practical, although you must then master proper alignment to join the sections.
If you already have the diode laser frame set up to handle those panels, then installing a higher-power diode laser head probably makes more sense than switching to a completely different CO₂ machine with an entirely different workflow.
The question you gotta ask yourself: do you want to cut wood or devote all that time to (learning how to) build a laser?
IMO, if you want to use a laser, buy one and get back to doing what you really want to do.
Also IMO, diode and CO₂ lasers are sufficiently different that you really can’t get from one to the other. Some folks have, but it requires more effort than seems reasonable unless you really enjoy tinkering with machinery for its own sake.
CO₂ lasers deliver more power to the material at a longer wavelength, so they have entirely different properties and characteristics. You must re-learn what you think you know, because many of your assumptions will be flat-out wrong.
Wow I didn’t realize how much quicker C02 really is. I know its not necessarily apples to apples but my engraving speeds on soft woods (pine, spruce etc.) is 1900-2200mm/min (36mm/s) I think I will continue with the diode for now and save up for the C02. How many Watt machine are you using? And what brands would you recommend for research purposes at this time.
It’s the OMTech 60 W (claimed, 50 W more likely) red-n-black with autofocus & LightBurn, which seemed to be the least awful way to get a collection of parts acting like a laser. It’s worked out well, modulo having the HV power supply fail hot just inside its six month warranty.
IMO, none of the Chinese sellers distinguish themselves by exemplary customer service & tech support, so you (well, I) must be willing to do all the troubleshooting & debugging & repairing on your own. Although we only see the horror stories here, it’s unclear spending (much) more money on an “American” seller gets you anything other than a thin wrapper on a Chinese hardware seller.