Result does not, how it should look like

Hello Lightburn Community,

I am new to the Laser game and finally set up everything, but something doesn’t work and I am not sure what the problem is. I wasted pretty much time on searching the problem on my own and came to the conclusion, that the Community might be the best way to figure out, what is wrong.
So the problem is basically, that the outcome of my prints isn’t like it should look like. I can explain it better with pictures I guess. For example I want to Laser this F1 Track of Silverstone:

(This is a screenshot, I am using a better quality for layering the track).
And this is the outcome:

My problem right here is not, that some of the texts is missing. My problem is, as you can see, the track on its own. Some parts of the track and closer, as they should be (I know, that the track on its own isn’t perfect, because the street is sometimes wider and sometimes closer, but this can’t be the reason, that it looks this awful). Why is this? I really think, it’s because either the floor, the laser or the box, in which the Laser stands, isn’t in spirit level. Some other people told be, that this can’t be the problem. But now I am asking, what is the problem and how can I solve it? I got many pictures of the spirit level of everything.
I really would be glad, if someone could help me out, because I have pretty much fun and spent much energy in this project already, but at some point I lost the energy, when I couldn’t figure out what I am doing wrong.

Box spirit level close up(bottom):

Floor spirit level close up:

If you need more information or pictures (I have many more, but can’t embed them as a new user), please let me know and I will try to give you everything you need to solve this problem. Thankful for every hint.

Spirit level is nearly irrelevant. The machine should be reasonably level but only to keep it from fighting gravity or walking around.

Flatness is far more important. A piece of plate glass is “flat” regardless of the angle to which it is tipped. For a machine, 10 degrees off level but perfectly flat is preferable to perfectly level but twisted. In short, the distance between the laser and surface of the workpiece should be relatively constant to maintain focus. Some laser have a very wide working focal range while others have a very narrow range.

All that said…that’s not your problem. :grin:

That engraving actually looks pretty good!

Remember, you are burning wood. This produces smoke, ash, carbon, water vapor, etc. Some of that will be redeposited on your workpiece. Some will go into the air. Some will collect on your laser. Etc.

Lots of moving air helps. Keep it in the air and move it away quickly.

Burning hotter (slower and/or higher power) will also create deeper and darker marks.

So…you have a few options.

  1. Accept what you have and commit to removing the soot/carbon.

  2. Increase air movement thru ventilation and/or air assist (both extremely highly recommended in ANY case.)

  3. Reduce heat by speeding up and/or reducing power.

BTW… Silverstone. :+1: I’ve been wanting to do a series of tracks and other racing/automotive themed pieces but I’ve been spending 100% of my available time on commissioned stuff. I’d love to sit down and develop something unique for Nurburgring but the length and complexity is difficult to capture in a reasonable scale.

The Y axis of the machine has backlash that loses motion when the axis changes direction. All of the narrow sections appear after a direction change, which suggests the axis isn’t moving correctly. The X axis probably also has problems, but of a lesser nature.

Although this writeup is for Sculpfun machines, it covers nearly all of the points you must check:

A recent discussion shows the level of attention required to go from “not right” to “much better”:

First of all, thanks for your time and your attend to help, I appreciate that.
It seems like you got a point, I wasn’t even thinking about. So basically I should check if the belts are tightened equally, but not too loose and not to hard, right? This could improve the movement and (maybe) get rid of my problem here? I will as soon as possible check that and hope it will work better than.
Just one mire question:
How tight should the belts be? Is there anything to compare with or do I just have to do trial and error snd check if it gets better or wirse everytime, I changed something?

That is necessary, but not sufficient: you must check all the other mechanical bits & pieces from the motors to the laser head to find the ones contributing to the problem.

Belt tension gets plenty of attention, but it makes no difference when a pulley has a loose screw or the laser head has a stripped thread.

And, yes, it all comes down to the experience gained by making small changes and observing what happens. It’s good practice to do that experimentation on cheap materials with simple test patterns: cardboard is your friend!

You also have control of how many times the laser passes over each part. You can use the layer to differentiate parts for different effects.

Less power and more passes = less smoke/soot and deeper cuts.

Welcome to the fun world of laser engraving. Lightburn is just the ticket to maximize your laser time.

Side note, sooner or later you will want to add a Y axis device. I highly suggest you go with a chuck type device over a set of rollers.

No go throw some laser beams and be happy! :grin:

Hey Chris,

Thank you very much for the detailed and hopefully helpful answer.
The wood was indeed the second option to test what could be causing the error. I tried it on glass before and unfortunately it didn’t look any better. But as I didn’t want to waste glass, which is simply the more expensive material, I tried it on the wood and tested a lot.
I will of course try out the idea of adjusting the speed and strength of the laser. So far, it hasn’t occurred to me that this could be the problem.
However, it shouldn’t be due to the air circulation, as I used the Air Assist you recommended from the start and a very powerful suction system ( that keeps the air constantly moving and doesn’t allow stagnant air to minimize the problem with soot and other waste materials.

I will get back to the machine tomorrow and test it in the hope that I can get the problem sorted with the help of the forum.
Thank you very much.

I used this video to adjust my machine:

Laser burns the wood. Air Assist blows the smoke/soot out horizontally. soot gets trapped in the wood grain as it passes across the wood. More air assist means more soot blown out of the burn slot.

Unless you have a high volume suction right at the nozzle, you will get this result.