How it works is quite simple. In the back of the machine, there is a 50-watt CO2 laser tube. There are mirrors and lenses, which get the laser beam, to the yellow lens at point 1 in the picture below. At point 2 there is a right angle mirror, that redirects the beam to point 3. At point 3, there is another right angle mirror that points the beam downward. Along with the mirror, there is a lens that focuses the beam to point 4. The lens that I used had a two-inch focusing distance. You can see there are 3 screws at point 3; the right angle mirror, and lens assembly comes out for cleaning. I don't know why, but I was surprised that the laser beam was not enclosed in its travels. You can see from the top picture on this page, that the user is protected from the working compartment, by the top lid of the machine. The window is coated to protect the user's eyes from stray laser light.
The beam is moved around by 2 slides. The Y slide is the beam that is between point 2 and point Y. It travels on rollers at points 2 and Y. You can see these rollers at point Y. So this bar travels back and forth, from the front of the machine to the back. Gezz this sounds so dry and technical! Anyway, the lens assembly, or laser head, at point 3, is the X-axis. It travels from left to right, on rollers at point X. These two slides are move with cogged belts, which are moved with stepper motors.
The bed of the laser cutting machine
travels up and down on four lead screws. One of them can be seen at point Z. These four lead screws are powered by cogged belts that are all powered by one stepper motor. The reason the table moves up and down is so you can focus materials of different thicknesses. The bed of the machine will go down 8 inches, in case you had something 8 inches thick to be cut or engraved. This comes in handy if you wanted to engrave a trophy, or the back of your boom box.
For me laser cutting machine had its challenges. It not something that you learn how to do in a book at the library! It took a lot of experimenting, but I finally got the hang of it. It does take a while to learn all the factors, for your cuts to be perfect, and repeatable. On some materials I didn't even know what was possible. There are many factors in using a laser, I would suggest playing with them all, you never know how success is going to arrive!
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