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laser cutter

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Martin Levy01/11/2018 18:32:31
57 forum posts
30 photos

I am a keen scratch builder and want to buy a laser cutter to cut ribs / formers etc in balsa and ply. I will need a machine that can cut parts for planes up to about 80" wingspan. Can anyone recommend a suitable make / model of machine capable of doing this that is not going to cost an arm and a leg? Any help appreciated.

Gary Murphy 101/11/2018 18:42:52
399 forum posts
14 photos

Martin, Have a look on YOUTUBE. you will see different machines AND people using them. Do a broad search,then when you see something narrow it down.

Don Fry01/11/2018 18:57:20
4387 forum posts
52 photos

Martin, don't forget, router cutters also exist.

flight101/11/2018 19:37:04
646 forum posts
33 photos

a good router cutter will be as good as a laser cutter for cutting out ribs etc in ply or balsa wood .

many pros and cons , one issue that should be considered is the cost of the lamp some are expensive but last longer and cheep ones not so. also do't forget the software to operate.

Martin Gay01/11/2018 20:56:17
322 forum posts
245 photos
The other thing to bear in mind is that lasers only cut 2D. Router cutters can do 3D stuff as well.
rcaddict01/11/2018 21:44:44
522 forum posts
2 photos

Mmmm - quite fancy a diy laser cutter - how does it work do yoy prepare drawing on autocad then export file to suit the cutter (like you do with a 3D printer)

Colin Bernard01/11/2018 22:30:03
483 forum posts
81 photos

This makes interesting reading.

It describes in detail making a 3D printer using CoreXY plotting based on aluminium extrusions and standard 3D printer parts.

Once he has that working, he then changes it so the head can be changed from an extruder to a laser cutter.

A YouTube intro and links to the build logs can be found here.

Definately food for thought.

Andy Veil 124/05/2019 10:28:41
1 forum posts

I actually thought about getting a laser cutter of my own. I had quite a few parts to make here and there and finding a manufacturer was a real pain in the ass. Looking for similar info like you, I stumbled upon this site. It actually makes getting a few parts easy, so I buried the thought. Maybe you can find some relief here as well laugh

Alan Hilton24/05/2019 18:20:04
114 forum posts

I have had plans scanned and cut by SLEC ,they do a first class job for a reasonable price .I wouldn’t consider buying a cutting machine ,leave it to well equipped experts


bert baker24/05/2019 18:38:34
1510 forum posts
306 photos

I have a Ex school Denford Cnc router,,,it’s taken a age to set up and found software trying,,,

only just started to get good results,,,,,


my mate has purchased a cnc 4 axis router of internet,,, cones complete with everything you need,,, it’s very good and appears to be fairly easy to sort out .


and there’s the problem,,,,,if you need it for a one of job it probably won’t be cost effective,


if if you like to play and learn go for it,,,

although you can do 3D on a router,,, the laser is more forgiving if the speeds are to high..


I would prefer a Laser cutting machine over a router, if I was starting a fresh ..



plus lush the other issue is you need to have the capability of CAD drawing ,,,, google sketchup is good but you still need to learn it

Edited By bert baker on 24/05/2019 18:41:06

Gary Murphy 124/05/2019 19:19:20
399 forum posts
14 photos

There is a company near me that does laser cutting and recently found out cnc router work as well.

I was talking to them about getting hand drawn parts cut and they took me to the machines to see. And showed me the cut parts. I could tell straight away that the router had a much more vertical cut on the thicker material,even more so on ply.

The only neg on the router was the inner corners are rounded,easy to sort.

I would rather have router cut parts the laser. This is just my limited opinion on parts seen and nothing to do with the machine

Don Fry24/05/2019 19:42:25
4387 forum posts
52 photos

If the program takes the router past the corner, reverses to the corner, and then takes its new direction, you get sharp corners.

bert baker24/05/2019 20:02:45
1510 forum posts
306 photos

True about rounded corners internally,,,, using a smaller cutter can help,

i have routed out some ribs,, using a 3.2mm diameter cutter, the spar slots are 1/4” you can see the rounded corners 567aac9a-1cd6-48a0-8859-47c0f0139975.jpeg

Gary Murphy 124/05/2019 20:21:00
399 forum posts
14 photos

Yeah, the guys said that you will never get a square inner corner because the cutter is round. The smaller the bit the better,as stated earlier.

one pass with a square file will solve that!

bert baker24/05/2019 20:31:47
1510 forum posts
306 photos

My thinking is Laser is more like printing and probably less hassle

kevin b24/05/2019 21:24:31
1706 forum posts
128 photos
Posted by bert baker on 24/05/2019 20:31:47:

My thinking is Laser is more like printing and probably less hassle

Each system has advantages and disadvantages. A laser cutter might be quicker than a router, though you get (not quite vertical) burnt edges and fumes that you need to extract outside. A router does a very neat job but produces a lot of dust, which is more difficult to get rid of than fumes. Again there are jobs you can and can't do with both of them.

I have a fair sized laser cutter, which does all the jobs I want. I am constantly learning with it and improving my technique. It is as much a hobby in itself as any other.

I would advise that if you can find someone reliable to do your cutting, then that is the most economical way. Also it is producing the files to cut with that is the time consuming job. Cutting them is the easy part. Better to learn how to produce the files BEFORE buying a machine. It's a lot cheaper that way !

James Green225/05/2019 09:50:03
52 forum posts
15 photos

I have a laser machine that I bought on Ebay from China. Very happy with it, buy the most powerful laser you can afford and I wouldn't use the benbox software that comes with it either. I use Bencutlaser and it is very ease to use. There is a dedicated forum and Ralph the site admin answers all queries.



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