• The Plug Track functions are experimental and still being developed. Some of the earlier pages of this topic are now out-of-date.

    For an updated overview of this project see this post.   For some practical modelling aspects of using Plug Track see The Book of Plug Track.

    Some pages of this and other topics include contributions from members who are creating and posting their own CAD designs for 3D printing and laser-cutting. Do not confuse them with Templot's own exported CAD files.

Laser Cutter

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richard_t

Member
Location
nr Spalding
I'm back - kind of, and not sure for how long. Progress on the house is sloooooow - we have planning permission and my Arhcitects think a start can be made before Christmas at knocking this one down and starting on the new one. I doubt it as we can't even get hold of a few bricks as samples to help choose them - one of the conditions from the council is a list of materials ... sigh ...

Anyhow...

I recently purchased an xTool D1 Pro laser engraver/cutter. I spent last (wet) Sunday putting the main unit together, and then in-between work, putting the rest of it together (the air-assist, enclosure, etc.) and today fired it up for the first time - and promptly triggered the fire sensor on the thing! Too aggressive settings (i.e. my fault). It came with a small sample pack of material, but I'm nearly through the 2 bits of plywood, so some more material is on the order books.

I've set it up in the conservatory for now (which can be closed off from the rest of the house, and it's simply venting through an open window. There's a bit of a smell, but given the window is in the prevailing wind direction that's not surprising.

20221110_143904-sm.jpg


And a quick snap of the "combination" test piece - i.e. I'm cramming as much as I can on it, so it's got all sort's of different files and cuts... (and yes on the reverse is the test that triggered the fire alarm):

20221110_143936-sm.jpg


What I don't overly like about it is:
  • Lightburn can only connect via USB, and not over the WIFI (I knew about this before I got it, and it's fine whilst I'm testing, but once I get into "production mode", I can see that's going to be a pain.)
  • The enclosure it very annoying ... I suspect the normal sized version is probably ok, but the extended one is very wobbly ... I can see I'll either have to make a custom enclosure, or at least add some bits of MDF/Ply to the sides of the 18mm MDF base it's currently on. That's going to be difficult when all my tools/materials are in storage.
  • Although you can purchase all the bits - they aren't very integrated, so there's a mains plug for the main unit, a plug for the air assist and yet another plug for the fan in the enclosure. And it's not possible to control the air assist from software unlike some other cutters.
I've not done anymore with it other than the above test files. Although it's mainly for model railway use, it's first real test will be for Christmas decorations for the family! (Just like my 3D printer which spends as much time being a proving drawer for bread, as it does printing stuff!)

We're (Mylo and me) are out tomorrow, it's should have been my late wife's birthday, and then on Saturday I'm making this year's Christmas cake, but hopefully I'll get to play with the cutter a bit more whilst that's in the oven - assuming I don't run out of plywood.

If people are interested I'll try to report back on progress ... until it all goes into storage :-(

Richard
 
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richard_t

Member
Thread starter
Location
nr Spalding
Not much progress to report I'm afraid (Christmas cake turned out ok!), and in fact a bit of a step back really. I had planned to make a sample box (from boxes.py), but it turns out that despite my care and following the instructions the X and Y axis of the cutter aren't perpendicular. I have a plan for correcting this, but I'm waiting on some 150mm engineers squares from Amazon, which annoyingly are due to arrive Friday. Ho humm...

Another update as I progress

Richard

PS: Its mildly interesting, testing out stuff on the 3D printer is relatively cheap in material costs, but takes time ... the laser cutter is the opposite, it's quick, but expensive in material.
 
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Location
Manchester
the laser cutter is the opposite, it's quick, but expensive in material.

No, just use a different material. Forget wood, go and buy a sheet or two of mounting board and use that. An A1 size piece of 1.5mm board comes in around a fiver and you can play around to your hearts content. If you then feel you have to use wood then fine but try it out in card first and you will save a lot of money.

Take a look at the things I have made in card and you might be surprised. https://www.scalefour.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=5848
Alpha Mill for a start and if you look at my workbench thread there are several buildings there https://www.scalefour.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=89&t=6907

Ply or MDF aren't essential for a laser cutter.

Ralph
 
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richard_t

Member
Thread starter
Location
nr Spalding
A quick update on this. I have managed to get the X and Y a bit more perpendicular - on my original test piece the "runout" was 0.35mm over 50mm, but now I've got it to 0.10mm over 50mm. I suspect I could fettle this a bit more, but the room the cutter is now in is a bit cold to be standing about trying to sort that out. I think there were two issues with my initial set up.

I downloaded and 3D printed some clamping shoes for the feet for the cutter. These are a tight fit, and I suspect I didn't quite get them screwed into the base in the correct position which put the frame of the cutter out of square. I compounded this by using a shoe on each foot, where I think I really only need two, on diagonally opposite corners.

The other problem is that the gantry is made up of two end pieces and a metal section. The end pieces protrude slightly from the metal section, so that using a square to try to square it all up, means that it's resting partly on the end piece and partly on the metal section, which makes the gantry skewed. I solved this with a couple of 1-2-3 blocks as spacers.

My 50mm squares came out 49.45 x 49.83, so that's something else I'll need to sort out (kerf settings in lightburn, or compensate for in drawings). The X and Y difference, I think, is down to the beam not being either square or round, but rectangular/ellipse.

Thanks Ralph, I'll add some A2 grey card to my next order of material (9mm MDF!)

Onwards and upwards...

Richard.
 
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Location
Manchester
It is usually easier to make changes to your drawing than applying changes to Lightburn, Richard. The reason is that the Lightburn kerf settings for a particular colour stay with the colour and you need to specify if they are an internal or external kerf, that is to the left or right of the line. I rarely use this setting much preferring to make my object dimensions more accurate.

The laser is, in my case, a circular 0.2mm beam and the thicker the material the less vertical the cut, it is, after all, a V shaped beam. If you want a perfect vertical cut you may have to cut oversize at the top to produce an accurate size at the bottom - almost certainly in 9mm MDF! More things to try.

Hope this helps.

Ralph
 
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Martin Wynne

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The reason is that the Lightburn kerf settings for a particular colour stay with the colour and you need to specify if they are an internal or external kerf, that is to the left or right of the line.
@ralphrobertson

Hi Ralph,

Don't forget that there are kerf settings in the Templot DXF export, which automatically puts them on the outside of timbers and inside of sockets. Which presumably means you could leave it at zero in your cutter software. The dimensions of sprues and webs etc. are not critical, so there is probably no need to bother with kerf adjustments for those:

laser_kerf.png


Unfortunately without a laser cutter it's impossible for me to test this or know whether it's useful.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Location
Manchester
Yes, of course that is there, completely forgot about it. I usually work on zero and factor things like that into whatever I make but I am sure it will appeal to other users. My plug chair dimensions were calculated after I made the socket sizes on my sleepers the size I knew wouldn't get weakened or distorted. The fact that all these sizes are parameter driven is excellent Martin and I am sure you must have hundreds of variables in your code - how do you remember them all?

Ralph
 
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