130W Custom Build

So I’m heading down the road of a ground up build of a 130W CO2 Laser Cutter/Engraver with a Cohesion3D LaserBoard and LightBurn software. And here’s where I’m at as of today:

It may not look too exciting but since this is my first laser I’m pretty stoked!

I’ve got 95% of the rest of it ordered and somewhere between China and here. I’m working on the design in Fusion 360 to finalize the rest of what I need, but not expecting to start any serious build until the new year. Should get the LaserBoard in the next day or two, the bulk of the parts next week, but the stepper motors will be another week out. (I should have ordered them from China too!)

I probably won’t bore you with a blow by blow account of the build, but I will update this thread with milestones along the way and specifically information on the LaserBoard and how I set it up. I’ll also note any problems that I run in to and solutions to fix them.

Watch this space! (But not too often, and always with your safety glasses! :smiley:)

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That tube looks familiar. Look forward to watching your progress. I’m in the final stages of a similar build. :+1:

I am looking at doing the same. What laser tube did you buy? Thanks

It looks like a RECI W6. OP can confirm. ~$750 straight from china.

It is indeed a RECI W6. As for the price a lot of online searches brought up wildly different prices, even from the same supplier depending on whether they were quoting shipping or not. I got mine for $690 + $408 shipping via UPS to Alaska + 4% PayPal fee = $1098 total. I don’t know how this compares to what other people pay but it seemed reasonable to me at the time, and was by far the best deal I saw. I also got a RECI W2 90W for $459.71 incl. shipping. Most of the other stuff I got had free shipping, but of course I’m still waiting on a lot of that to arrive. :slight_smile:

Just waiting on my chiller so I can fire this sucker up! :grin: Turns out that they wouldn’t ship it from New Jersey to Alaska so I had to get that from China as well. :roll_eyes:

A bit off-topic, but after visiting Alaska in the winter a few years back, the wife and I have been wanting to move up. The shipping prices/ridiculous restrictions/extended times for anything not locally-made (which is many things) are definitely a consideration.

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It’s a pain for sure, but you soon learn the tricks needed to get semi-reasonable deals. And of course it’s a beautiful place to live. :grinning:

So I’ve got a working prototype of the X and Y axis. The Z axis will have to wait until I get a permanent location for it all. As you can see from the picture below it’s all temporary at the moment and space in my shop is a little tight during the winter. I’ve test fired the laser just for the fun of it, but if all goes well I hope to be able to do the first test cuts by next weekend.

This is just a prototype to get a feel for how I’m going to lay things out. Most of the parts I’ve 3D printed and nothing is permanently fixed so it’s not the most rigid of setups, but it will run at a decent speed without issues. The next job is to design and build the laser tube mounts and figure out how I’m going to mount the mirrors.

It’s a 1305 x 760mm bed (51" x 30") and I have it homing to the bottom right corner at 1310, -5 so that at maximum X / minimum Y the homing switches aren’t in contact with the gantry. Why I did this I couldn’t really tell you other than I’m used to homing locations being just outside the working limits, and so I stuck with what I’m used to. Other than flipping the logic for the homing switches and putting in the parameters of my bed size setting up the LaserBoard was a breeze and I don’t think I had any major issues at all. Although I knew that one Y axis motor had to operate in the opposite direction to the other I still managed to forget this when I wired them up which made for some horrible noises and violent shaking!! Easily fixed though and no damage done.

All in all I’m happy with progress so far, and it’s been fun doing the complete design and build process. My next update will hopefully be after some laser cutting action!

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it looks like you have another stepper on the other side for the y axis? Correct me if I’m wrong.

I would strongly advise against that. If one side skips a step for any reason (going a bit too fast, damaged/loose wire, bad driver, etc), having the mirror out of alignment could be catastrophic.

I understand this concern and I’ve considered the risks. Right now I’m sticking with this design although that may ultimately change after I’ve put it through its paces during the build. My shop is full of potential catastrophes, what’s one more? Besides, it could be spectacular!

It lives! Still got some bugs to work out, but I was able to burn a squarish square on some MDF. Several areas need to be addressed but it kinda works as is. I haven’t properly focused it yet and I’ve still got to cut a hole in the bed to install the Z-axis, (which isn’t even built yet). I’m particularly pleased with the way the enclosure turned out. I had the same guys who made the emperor’s new clothes make it for me. Right now I’m making a list of jobs I need to do tomorrow to see if I can get to a point where I can actually cut something!

That thing looks awesome so far :slight_smile: great work. I love how the knobs go to 11. It’s one louder.

The idea of using an on-off-on switch to arm the laser tubes individually is extremely clever.

It has to be a little terrifying firing that thing with no case!

It may only look half built but it is now a fully functioning Death Star! Finally got it focused this morning and cut some MDF and acrylic. Took a few passes to get through the acrylic because I just don’t have a clue on power level or cutting speeds yet and I was being overly cautious. There are still several issues that need to be addressed for the final version, including putting the X-axis drag chain on the other side of the gantry so that it doesn’t pass through the path of the laser. :roll_eyes:

Gotta say I’m pretty stoked with progress though. Getting it cutting was a real milestone, but still a lot more to do.

Curious, why 2 laser tubes?

No good reason. :smiley: The 90W was a good price at the time and didn’t really add much cost to the build (relatively speaking). My thinking, (however flawed), is that I’ll use the 90W more for engraving jobs and the 130W for cutting, (my main reason for building the machine). I wanted maximum utility hence the large bed and pass through capability, but I don’t think I can really justify the second tube. Since this is my first laser I’ll be doing a lot of experimenting and only time will tell if the 90W out performs the 130W when engraving. I would obviously expect the 130W to do a better job of cutting thicker material.

Honestly, I guess the answer is that I just do things differently.

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I look forward to your posts. How did you accommodate the mirrors to work with both tubes?

Only one tube can be active at at time as it’s currently designed. The first mirror slides along an extension to the Y-axis shaft between stops so that it’s always true and in front of one tube or the other as needed, but means that the tubes have to be aligned parallel to each other. The second mirror will have a sliding plate parallel to the Y-axis and stops, (so that it can be used with either the 1.5" or 2" laser head), but this isn’t built yet and will be in the next iteration. None of this has been fully put in to practice yet so there may be issues to overcome that I haven’t anticipated, but in principal it should work as envisioned.