The do-it-yourself movement continues to gain momentum. A person can now build almost anything; from toys to a car or house. Enthusiasts give a lot to their craft. They offer investment of money and time into the perfection of their projects. Laser engraving onto wood, metal or glass displays a dedication and attention to detail. More do-it-yourselfers are taking the time to consider building their own.
There are things to keep in mind before starting a project like this. Purchasing some of the components requires careful consideration. Ordering a 60 watt CO2 laser emitter is not like purchasing tile. Manufacturers that produce these components are highly competitive, and many foreign components have entered the market without conforming to UL or EC Certification. This is creating a hazard to the public, and Customs and Border Protection agents have begun seizing these unmarked components.
Worse still, anyone that ordered the part can face charges for importing counterfeit laser equipment. That includes not only the fine, the loss of the machine, but also storage fees – same as for an impounded car. It is important to know the quality assurance and safety requirements of the country and region conform to the standards set by UL and the European Commission, and that no corners are being cut. Otherwise, it is too easy to lose the entire project simply by saving a little money.
Choosing a lens depends primarily on the focal length desired. A lens with a two inch focal length create a very fine focal point, allowing for detailed font engraving smaller than six points. A three or four inch focal length are better for thicker materials. They offer a straighter, deeper cut.
A CO2 laser also generates a considerable amount of heat. A close circuit water cooling system is required to maintain the operating temperature of the laser tube. Anything over 60 watts or that runs steadily for a few hours is going to need a chiller built into the cooling system. Otherwise, the components will fail and be ruined. Domestic built components, like Boss Laser machines offer many great options for cooling systems and air purification systems. Engraving materials such as acrylic or plastic can emit toxic fumes that can be dangerous unless properly handled.
Remember that the most important part of any do-it-yourself project is preparation and planning. It pays to do the research beforehand. It saves more than money.