Articles

CNC machines with laser heads in small and medium enterprises

by John A. Engineer

The CNC machines and 3D printers are becoming increasingly popular on the market. They are ideal tools for small businesses because they create many possibilities.

Using them you can manufacture self-made business gadgets, decorative elements, decorations, and personalized designs. They are perfect for cutting and holes making in different materials. 



The cost of numerically controlled devices is already low so now they become a viable option for small businesses. At the same time, with the popularization of small CNC devices, the progress of electronics and software development enables us easy control. Operation on these machines is not reserved only for engineers and highly qualified professionals. Thanks to that CNC machines and 3D printers will become more popular. 



Note that their business value depends largely on the possibilities of their use. Good news for small companies which base on CNC and 3D printing services is market availability of the laser attachments.  Small, convenient to use and relatively cheap laser attachments based on the blue laser diode module which is ready to be used in many applications as a replace or supplement of stand-alone devices with a CO2 laser. On the contrary, CO2 lasers are expensive to buy and operate, inconvenient to use, and can cause more dangerous accidents at work (shock with an invisible high-power laser beam or high-voltage electric current is very dangerous).



The blue laser head is particularly well suited to work with wood and wood-based materials, such as plywood, balsa, MDF, cardboard, cardboard, paper. It allows it’s user to cut and engrave leather, fabrics and plastics - especially dark ones. Also blue laser head is suitable for marking steel and titanium. It cuts rubber and engraves glass with a simple tip. A comprehensive list of blue CNC laser 450 nm applications can be found here: https://optlasersgrav.com/applications 


If this is your first contact with a blue CNC laser, you will wonder what laser upgrade or laser attachment is worth to be chosen. It depends on your needs. For professional applications, the best choice will be a brand laser head of the highest power - 6 Watts or even 12 Watts. However, if you choose 12 W blue CNC laser head you should be aware that due to its size is not suitable for every machine. Mostly, the 6 W laser head can be considered as a reasonable choice between power and ease of assembly. It’s worth to add that sometimes you can get laser head with specially prepared kit for specific CNC machine brand. Kits facilities connection between laser head and the machine. Owe to that the laser head upgrade for CNC machine is simpler and connected machine is ready to use. 



The branded laser head is the obvious choice when we think of professional applications and intensive work with the laser. Labeled 6W laser head from China can cost up to several times less than the branded blue CNC laser. No-name laser heads from China are bad choice for business purposes. They have many disadvantages which are presented below. 


  1. Significantly lower efficiency. I don't know how manufacturers calculate the power of the device, but unbranded heads usually have lower power than the high-quality 6 W laser heads. It also has an impact on laser head’s working time and ability to permanently mark steel. The focusing of the laser beam is also a very important issue because a poorly focused beam not only reduces the engraving resolution, but also can cause lower optical density (light of the same power, on a larger surface will give a weaker effect).

  2. Shorter laser diode life. In cheap CNC lasers, the low price of the device is affected by the use of lower power diodes. Application of higher voltage than recommended has an impact on the life of the laser diode which will be shorter in this case. The replacement of this diode will also be cheaper than in a branded device, but the decrease of diode power (associated with much faster burn-in) and more frequent stoppages will negatively affect the work efficiency.

  3. Lower ergonomics. Renowned manufacturers of laser heads try to provide their products with better work ergonomics. For example - ease of assembly on a CNC machine, solutions for quick disconnection and attachment of the head depending on the operating mode of the CNC machine, sufficiently efficient fans ensuring the laser head has proper cooling and smoke evacuation.

  4. No security. Cheap CNC lasers don’t have proper solutions to protect users against accidents at work or protect the head from damage. For example, LaserDock designed by Opt Lasers (manufacturer of high-quality CNC lasers)  automatically shuts off the head from power if the laser falls out of the holder. This solution significantly decreases the risk of paralyzing the operator with the laser beam. Another solution from this manufacturer is the aluminum housing that protects the inside of the laser head from debris, dust or splashes.

  5. Uncertain technical support. The manufacturer of a cheap CNC laser can reduce its costs by depriving buyers of technical support. Reputable manufacturers cannot afford this practice. Technical support is especially important for business because it directly affects work efficiency. In the case of no-name heads, there is also no certainty that the manufacturer will comply with the terms and conditions of the guarantee.



I hope this short article showed you an interesting business aspect of modern laser technology. I am convinced that a wide range of possibilities, convenience, and price of blue laser upgrade for CNC machines will give you a reason to use it in your enterprises. 




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About John A. Freshman   Engineer

4 connections, 0 recommendations, 22 honor points.
Joined APSense since, August 23rd, 2019, From Pennsylvania, United States.

Created on Sep 16th 2019 04:07. Viewed 247 times.

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