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San Diego Peeps With a Laser Cutter

GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 3,342
I'm doing an article on laser cutting small robotic parts and I need to get some photographs of the process. If you're in the San Diego (or south Orange County) are I'd like to arrange an hour with you to bring in a DXF for a small acrylic robot base using a Propeller Activity Board, and take 3-4 pictures of the process. There will be no humans in the picture (no model releases required), just the machine and parts. The work room doesn't need special lights, but should be adequately lit to take photos with electronic flash. I can bring a tripod if necessary.

PM me here if you're local and interested. We can do lunch afterward if you're not ashamed to be seen with me.

Comments

  • 14 Comments sorted by Date Added Votes
  • Gordon,

    If you can't find anyone locally, email me the DXF and I'll take the photos for you using my laser cutter.

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • Hey Gordon,
    I have a glowforge laser cutter, and am in northern San Diego (near Poway).
    Happy to help with this. PM me.

    Roy
  • I would echo Phil's offer in a heartbeat with my Epilog Legend 75W setup. Or, if you can visit the Sacramento area, I am ~15 minutes from Parallax HQ.
  • Thanks, Phil, Roy, and Andrew! Roy is the closest, and I have to go to San Diego Plastics to pick up some acrylic anyway, so it should work out well.

    Roy, Last when we had dinner you were planning a move to Seattle. Nice to have you back in sunny San Diego! I'll PM you tomorrow when I've firmed up some more details.
  • Yeah, I did move to Bellevue (near Seattle) back in August 2012, and lived there for ~2.5 years. Came back to San Diego in January 2015.

    The max thickness for the glowforge is just under 1/2 inch, and it takes a couple passes to cut through that thickness though. It does cut 1/8th and 1/4th inch acrylic in one pass.
    The cutting work area is about 19" x 11". It has pass through slots, so the sheet can be longer than fits inside, but no more the 20 inches wide.

    Figured you'd need to know that before buying material.

    I have piles of 20x12 inch 1/8th inch thick acrylic sheets in different colors and a few clear 1/4th inch thick sheets. Plus various woods. So if you plans fit those sizes and you don't need many of them, we can use some of my material.
  • Roy Eltham wrote: »
    It has pass through slots, so the sheet can be longer than fits inside, but no more the 20 inches wide.
    The Glowforge seems quite impressive from the videos I've seen. Didn't realize it had the pair of pass through slots. That's useful/smart in a desktop unit.
  • Roy ElthamRoy Eltham Posts: 2,273
    edited March 12 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Only the "Pro" version has pass through slots, the Basic one does not.

    Also, the pass through slots only work for material up to about 3/16th3/8th inch thick, but 99% of what I cut is 1/8th or 1/4th inch thick so it's great for me.
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 21,901
    edited March 12 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Roy Eltham wrote:
    Also, the pass through slots only work for material up to about 3/16th inch thick, but 99% of what I cut is 1/8th or 1/4th inch thick so it's great for me.
    Had to read that twice. Did you mean 3/8th instead of 3/16th? :)

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • Phil,
    Oops. yeah not 3/16ths, but 3/8ths for the pass though opening height.
  • OIC, Roy. Still quite nice. Thanks for the details/response. --Jim
  • Roy Eltham wrote: »
    Hey Gordon,
    I have a glowforge laser cutter, and am in northern San Diego (near Poway).
    Happy to help with this. PM me.

    Roy
    Roy,
    You are the first person I know of that actually has a Glowforge laser cutter! How does it work and do you find it really useful?
    Jim

  • Jim,
    I am quite happy with the glowforge. I have a pro model.
    The "bed" can fit material that is 20 inches wide by about 15-16 inches long. The actual work area that it can cut in is currently about 19x11, and it's a little less when engraving. They say that with future software updates cutting should be able to go to the full 20inch width, and about 11.5inch length (engraving will still be a little less in width because of ramped stop/start). With the pro model it has pass through slots in the front and back so that you can feed longer material through it. Currently, the software doesn't have any support for it, but they plan to make it able to autoalign so that you can cut large jobs in multiple passes by feeding large material through in stages. You can do that now, manually, if you are very careful and use jigs to keep things lined up.

    The software is cloud based. You access if via a website from most any device. I use my desktop/laptop with chrome, but you can use a tablet or whatever. The machine itself is connected to my network via WiFi (there is no wired ethernet connection), it only works with 2.4Ghz (no 5Ghz).
    I've only experienced an issue with the cloud stuff once, and it was only for a short period (about 10 minutes downtime). When you start a job, it downloads the whole thing into the machine (from the cloud) so there's no worries about losing connection ruining a running job.

    The workflow is pretty nice overall. You run the webapp, it shows you an image of the bed, and if you are using their "proofgrade" materials (they have a QR code on them) then it will automatically deal with settings for you. You just upload your vector and/or image files place them on the material (using the mouse to move/rotate/scale the parts) then click "print" and it will process everything and send it to your machine. You then go to the machine and press the big glowing button to start it actually going. An alternate workflow option is that you can place a drawing/printout of something into the bed and tell the software to "trace" it. It will capture an image and let you do some basic selection of what to engrave and what to cut (usually just the outline). I have used this to engrave some drawn art friends of mine have done (I'm no artist).

    You can use other materials besides their "proofgrade" stuff, but you have to enter cut/engrave settings yourself. I have done this for a number of things, it works fine, just takes a couple tries to find good settings sometimes.

    Materials can be up to 1/2" thick, although cutting through anything more then 1/4" will usually take 2 or 3 passes. I have cut many types of hardwoods (all 1/8" thick), birch plywood (both 1/8" & 1/4"), acrylic (1/8" & 1/4"), 110lb paper card, and some thin veneers. I've done various engraves on wood and acrylic also using graphic art as well as photos. It does a decent job, but for photos you often will need to adjust the photos brightness/contrast to get best results (although that's true with any engraver as far as I know).

    I have found it useful enough for my needs. I made a bunch of xmas gifts with it in December, and I've helped a bunch of friends make things using it.
  • Roy,
    Thanks for that very informative description.
    Jim
  • No problem, Jim.

    The short version is this:
    I love it, it meets or exceeds my needs, and the software is improving and adding features regularly.
    Someone used to a more traditional laser cutter setup might be frustrated by things it does differently or not at all.
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