Adding a laser diode

Yes I know lasers are dangerous, designing it to be safe is part 2.

I essentially want to add additional tools to the crossfire pro. Easiest would be that they would be swapped with the torch head when needed.

A laser diode for engraving/burning off a resist material to make a mask for acid etching, etc. and a sharpie. There’s a video where a guy used the sharpies with the click button to use his plasma table to plot lines on the metal before cutting - bend lines and such.

It would also be useful to draw out scale reference drawings for ironwork.

My question is whether anyone has looked into this and how to go about it. I looked through the forums and didn’t see anything quite like it. Of course it could be done with a whole separate controller and all, but I’m hoping to find a way to interface with fire control. If that just means tricking it into thinking it’s fire a plasma cutter, that works for me.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

IMO, you can get a decent laser diode setup that is reliable, accurate, and clean for $250-$350. Trying to make a CF into a Laser too is very much making a silk purse from a sow’s ear.
Note that I have both (CF & Diode Laser). I also have two CNC routers and a CO2 laser, each tool has it’s own merits. I really dislike hybrids.

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Limited space for additional tools and the size of the work area are driving factors for me. Laser cutters in that price range are too small.

Also I’m after deeper understanding from attacking what might be a difficult project.

Most of the cost of a DIY laser cutter is the motors, frame, electronics, etc. Ive already got all that in my CFpro.

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You could mount a laser diode fairly easily, but they rarely go above 15W (which, in reality operates as an effective 8W laser.) It’ll engrave on a variety of things, with care and some blacking, it’ll mark up metal. It’ll cut a few things. Here’s a discussion from when I added one to my XCarve CNC. 15w laser upgrade questions - #17 by picengravertoo - Upgrades - Inventables Community Forum

Adding a CO2 laser would be a big mess, they need optics, venting, waayy more eye protection, etc.

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Not true with a usable Diode Laser. The best Module I’ve seen is the NEJE A40640 which is a dual diode with a very small beam. Input power is 40W, Optical power is 15W, cost for the module alone is $250, mounted in an open frame laser is $399.

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Good information about the diodes, but the big question is really about how to interface with the machine - through fire control or some other software that talk to it.

That is a big question. With a supported laser you would be WELL advised to use LightBurn as the control software. Rolling your own interface to CF you’re on your own - good luck with that.

I’ll look into that program, thanks.

I’m honestly just as interested in it functioning as a plotter with a marker. The last big piece of iron work I did I spent a lot of time drawing on my floor with chalk and a ruler to have a drawing to reference.

FWIW, here is how much room my NEJE Laser takes up when it’s not in use…

Maybe check here, very knowledgeable :

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Plasma tables are not designed to be a laser
Neither are CNC routers!
I run a Co2 and fiber laser.
The raster speeds of the Co2 lasers are just that, meant for a machine designed for it… its only moving a very low mass deflection mirror , lenses , and very light weights laser head that also integrates a air assist tube all very very low mass / low weight.
None of which your plasma cutter or CNC ROUTER was designed for.
The use of them in laser marking capacity is possible, yea i see many doing it, but it’s extremely rough on the machines rastering that much mass at those speeds. Co2 lasers will only mark metals with expensive marking inks. And youll need a Co2 Wattage / power supply high enough to apply the amount of heat needed to etch using the marking inks.
Its Applied first and allowed to dry. Fully before lasering. I did discover cheaper marking material through trial and error. That worked pretty :relieved: good .

Buy a dedicated C02 laser or better yet, if your only in the metal side of things get your self a Fiber laser for cutting and marking steel and other metals! FIBER lasers or a MOPA laser can ectch and even cut metal and mark and color permanently without expensive laser marking inks.

I imported an Awesome 50W Fiber laser from JW lasers. In CHINA.
Great Co. … many many users especially knife makers and firearms engravers use them and I couldnt find one negative about JINGWEI Lasers or Lucas Lui the service rep. Lucas is awesome with answering questions, software setup etc…
Lucas from JW lasers is tagged in the comments if you wanna check out his lasers.
Ill be Laser marking my Chef Knifes Im starting production on. And the plaques i cut from stainless on the CrossFire Pro.

Below link is custom .040” brass badges I made for a Great Wood working company that makes Custom slab tables , and all kinds of Hardwood furniture , art, etc… MOOSEWORKS SLAB DESIGNS

I understand that it is not optimal and not what the machine is designed for. A laser module is just a simple example to explain what I’m interested in learning about - interfacing other modules with the CFpro hardware.

Given the space, money, and desire to primarily do laser work, I’d just buy a dedicated machine. I’m looking to squeeze as much functionality out of this one machine for my one man artist metal smith business.

I’ll be sure to report back here what I find out. I suspect that proper drivers to let other/custom software to interface with the hardware will be the major stumbling block.