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Hi, I purchased this 50W Chinese laser in March via e-bay. I paid using Pay-pal which provides some hope of recovering your money if you need to. The 100Kg machine arrived in a van, driven by a girl who had been sent out without handling equipment. So the first problem was to get it out of the van. Who said 10 1/4" gauge track would be a useless investment? If it had not been for my length of prefabricated track that cutter would still be in the van. Down the ramp and on the ground and 56 coach screws later the 65Kg uncased machine was on a trolley ready to be taken to the laser room. The room was an emptied bedroom of a child long since departed the nest. Before plugging it in a couple of weeks were spent making a bench by a window for fume extraction and sourcing a water tank. If anyone wants to follow my example make sure you view some of the 100+ You tube videos made by Russ This will open your eyes to the plus and minus of these machines and most importantly get you started safely. The main problem with these machines is that they are potentially overdriven. ie more power is supplied to the laser than it can use so this rapidly causes the tube to degrade. You must not use the software power settings as any guide to how much power is going through the tube. It is essential to fit a milliammeter in the RETURN (Cathode) of the laser tube. There are several You Tube videos on how to this SAFELY. The maximum safe current in the return for a longlife in this wattage of tube is 16mA. This shows the Maplin enclosure with the mA meter, and coolant water temperature probe ( both£3 off e-bay) The water tank contains a cheap aquarium heater for winter use and to avoid termal shock to the laser tube. It is best to keep the coolant between 15C and 25C. Again if the temperature of the coolant goes much above 30C the tube loses power and can suffer permanent damage. The software that comes with the machine is called RDworks. Many users find it a bit wanting but I have not. It is limited as a drawing tool but is essential for processing the drawing to drive the laser. It allows different coloured lines on your drawing to either be cut or engraved. It allows bit maps and vectors to be combined in composing one cutting tool. Hidden from view is has some neat tricks. It allows the machine to optimise the cutting path for speed. It allows you to cut on the line or inside or outside it. The Kerf of the cutter is about 0.15mm-0.2mm.(the focussed laser beam is 0.1mm) SO it is possible to make parts that fit correctly. So what will it do? It will cut paper, mount card,plywood up to 6mm, MDF up to 6-8mm, acrylic (pespex) up to 6mm, These are single pass cuts at speed of 100-30mm/s for paper and cards, MDF 35-5mm/s depending on thickness and about the same for perspex. The original drawing is done in Freehand and old program like Illustrator. The files are drawn as hairline, exported as AI files into RD works where they can be further worked on eg they can be selected, re-scaled, coloured for different cutting protocols. In short it all worked. My first project, cut in 2mm, 3mm and 5mm perspex was to make a kit for a quarry slab truck in 16mm scale. The laser cut parts were assembled with Plastic Weld, The wheels are Binnie on shortened axles and the details- coupling hooks Binnie, nut and bolt castings-Cambrian. Time to cut the parts 2 minutes. Now that is much quicker and cheaper than any other way to make a quantity of wagons. The only kit part that needed a jig and a bit of thought was the through wagon draw bar. The cost of the perspex per wagon is about £1.
The Midlands Model Engineering Exhibition takes place from the 18th – 21st October at the Warwickshire Event Centre. If there are any readers who still want to enter their work in the competition and display sections, please complete and return your forms as soon as possible. Entry is free and there are 32 classes of which 16 are competition and 16 are display. These classes include: Locomotives, Rolling Stock, Stationary and Internal Combustion Engines. Models still under construction can also be entered in the display classes. A commemorative plaque and exhibitor’s certificate will be presented to every entrant, with trophies and cash prizes awarded to winners. Full information on the event and the entry from can be found at http://www.midlandsmodelengineering.co.uk/.