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add laser etching capabilities to a cnc mill

by:QY Precision      2019-10-02
This manual will show you how to easily add the laser etching function to an existing CnC grinder.
After following this instruction manual, you will be able to use etching laser and conventional milling spindle.
By merging these two tools into the same machine, your cutting/etching operation will be performed in the same coordinate system.
This gives you great control over the accuracy of the position and will (greatly! )
Improve the results of the finished product.
Before creating a custom housing to hold my laser and spindle, I have to constantly switch back and forth between using one or the other.
This means eliminating the entire laser or spindle assembly from z-
Then install another one.
Every time I do this, after switching between the two, I can\'t reliably match the center line of the spindle and the laser.
This leads to lower quality finished parts than I prefer.
Of course, I turned to 3D printing to solve this problem!
I support the open source community and one of my favorite open source programs is the 3d modeling package OpenSCAD (www. openscad. org).
OpenSCAD is great. it is our favorite method of text entry because of its efficiency (via variables)
And its level of precision (
When you use the point and click interface, it\'s hard to adjust something in mm increments).
First of all, I deleted the original Z-
The shaft plate to which the laser/spindle is installed.
I measured the mounting holes and board sizes and then modeled the board in OpenSCAD.
To make the plate large enough to hold the laser, I added the overall size of the plate.
The above two horizontal green lines show the connection position of the spindle installation.
Because I\'m going to do a Z-
I also added the shaft mounting plate to the lower mounting plate of the CnC spindle (
More about why I added this at a point).
This is the bottom green line you see in the 3d model.
Next, I measured the spindle and its mounting bracket.
My CnC machines come with spindle mounting brackets, so I reverse engineer them until they are in the right size.
This involves modeling the stand and printing my own until my stand matches the machine stand.
This is critical to the design of the spindle base so that the spindle center can be printed through a 3d enclosure, while the original spindle mounting bracket can also be used.
I have been using my CnC machine for a few years and one thing that has been bothering me is that the spindle is installed using a friction connection.
Occasionally, the spindle slides down from the stand and destroys the part I am working on.
I\'m sure this is most likely due to running the spindle for a long time and the heat generated by the spindle causes the mounting bracket to soften, allowing the spindle to slide over them.
Since I am making a 3d printed housing for my components, it seems to be the best time to solve this problem, so I added the spindle substrate to the shell design.
Having a substrate creates a physical boundary for the spindle and allows the 3d printing bracket to resist any vertical force that the spindle may withstand, rather than relying on friction on the mounting bracket.
The second and third photos show the appearance of the spindle assembly in the housing.
After determining the basic concept of the spindle assembly, I started designing the laser housing.
I imagined the laser from Z-
Shaft, start to design.
This involves a lot of measurement and modeling until everything is in a nice compartment.
To avoid any confusion, I showed the shell that was finally printed and the components that were modeled.
What you see is the sixth revision of the housing as I have to constantly adjust until all the components are put into a compact package.
This is a laser mounted inside the housing, cooled by a 40mm fan mounted directly above the housing.
Due to their complexity, I only model key parts, not other functions.
3d models of laser can be accessed from JTech Photonics website.
I made the 3d model of the fan, very simple because as long as it meets my needs, there is no need to spend too much time on the model.
Looking back on the last few years, and the amount of dust and shaving generated by my spindle, I know it\'s important to create a habitat that separates the laser from its surroundings.
After thinking about how to make a good air filtration system, I found a low
The cost method of isolating the laser from the spindle.
I find that using a combination of a rifle lens cover and a metal accessory creates a very \"tight dust\" connection, when the spindle is running, this connection prevents dust from entering and exiting the housing when the laser is used.
The rifle lens cover has a quick locking function that allows the lens cover to be turned on and off as needed.
The image on the left shows that the lid is open and the image on the right shows that the lid is broken off.
Note: I modeled the buckle cover and fitting as single piece, so the 3d model may have an incorrect size compared to the size of the metal fitting.
I ignored the flip part of the lid in the model (
For simplicity)
The length increased from the lens cover is reflected only on one side of the model.
This is the final design of the laser housing.
It has mounting holes for lasers and fans, as well as recessed slots for the inlet and exhaust fitting lock nut.
The finished product is displayed here (
No bottom vent installed).
Next, I need to determine the height of the laser housing relative to the spindle housing.
To do this, I combined the two models and adjusted the Z-
The axis elevation of the laser housing until it is aligned well with the spindle housing.
The position of the wire harness access hole is selected based on the relative alignment of the two, so that the wire harness does not conflict with the spindle mounting bracket.
This is the small hole on the back of the laser housing in the third photo, under the lower spindle mounting bracket and above the spindle substrate.
The last piece consists of a side mounting plate and a laser shield, which is used as the viewport of the laser.
I created two side panels to connect all the parts to each other, creating a powerful overall structure for the entire assembly.
For a little talent, I added 90 degrees of bending to the side board.
Use a piece of laser-shielded acrylic resin as the observation port for the laser.
After combining all the modeled components together and checking suitability-
I printed all the work.
For reference, I personally printed 5 pieces: 1. )Z-
Shaft installation platform 2. )
Spindle base Platform 3. )Laser Housing4. )
Left Platform 5. )
The right side platform uses nut and bolt-type hardware to install everything but 3d prints.
All 3d prints are connected with 1 \"self-tapping screw.
This manual does not include the electrical connection required for laser work.
Please refer to the link at the end of this article --
Learn step-by-step instructions for connecting J Tech photon lasers to existing CnC machines.
They have a comprehensive tutorial that will help you solve any problems you may encounter during the installation process.
My preferred software for controlling my CnC machine is Linux CnC (
Linux CNC is an open source project with many contributors and users. Plus its free! I am using a 5-
Axis CnC control board for Zen tools works, via 25-
Pin parallel port cable.
17 of these pins are available and 8 remain for other functions.
For my setup, I have placed the spindle on the surge protector separate from the laser.
In this way, I can only open one or the other, depending on which one I will use at any given time.
I chose to connect the laser to pin 2 and the spindle to pin 14.
I\'m using a pulse.
Width modulation (PWM)
Control the intensity of the laser needle month and issue full power at the same time (Spindle opening mode)
Connect to the spindle with pin 14.
If you wish, or if all your pins are for other functions, the laser and spindle can be controlled from a single pin, just remember to send enough power to the spindle when it is in use, and limit the power of the laser when it is in use, if it is turned on for a long time.
Since I have several spare pins, I have chosen to control the spindle and laser from different pins.
This Instructables does not include how to use Linux CNC, but I have linked to their website where they have detailed instructions that will help you get started if you want to use their software
This step is arguably the most important, and the place where you see the maximum benefit from the spindle/laser combination settings.
Linux CNC allows you to use many different coordinate systems where we will use two of them: G54 and g55.
I have nominated my spindle as \"G54\" and my laser as \"G55 \".
From now on, these are the coordinate systems where my spindle and laser will be present.
For the alignment of the two coordinate systems, I suggest that you use the smallest bit available for the spindle; I used a V-
Set the cutting depth to 1mm.
I then mill a series of squares and circles about 20mm wide in the spindle coordinate system (G54).
In my G54 coordinate system, the coordinates in the upper left corner of my leftmost square are x = 100, y = 100;
I have written down these coordinates as it is necessary to set the laser offset in Linux CNC.
After the milling operation is complete, I turn off the spindle and activate the laser.
Note: Be sure to wear eye protection when you have a laser power supply!
Since I want to use the laser now, I entered the G55 coordinate system in Linux CNC.
Currently, the coordinate position readings for X, Y and z axes are the same as for g54.
This is because I have not entered any offset for the laser yet.
I turn on the laser with low power settings so I can see the beam clearly, but it does not corrupt the wood.
I then position the laser manually until the beam is more or less aligned with the milling square.
Now, I adjust the coordinate position where the laser is currently located by telling the software that my laser is at x = 100 and y = 100.
Next, I will do machine laser etching on the far left square.
I sketched out the square with a laser, and even though I entered the initial laser offset value in Linux CNC, the square I etched (first image)
Since I just visually aligned the laser in the previous step, there is no good alignment with the milled square.
It doesn\'t matter because I will measure alignment now.
Once the laser has finished etching the square, place the laser/spindle away so you can enter the square you grind and laser etching.
Use a pair of calipers or rulers to measure the X and Y coordinate offsets for milling and laser etching squares.
I measured the alignment at 1mm in the X direction and-
Y direction 4mm (first image).
Next I move the laser from x = 100 y = 100 to x = 99 (100-1)and y=104 (100+4)
To compensate for being 1 and-
On the X and y axes.
Then I carved the second square (second image).
I have exceeded the \"correct\" position on the X axis and y axis.
I can say that because now I am milling the other side of the square on the x and y axis.
Don\'t worry, I can continue to measure decimals with millimeter accuracy this time.
I measured again and found out I was-0.
X direction 17mm, 0.
Y direction 85mm
I return my machine to x = 100 y = 100 and compensate my new measurement again by setting my current position to x = 100. 17 (100+0. 17)y=99. 15 (100-0. 85).
I repeat the process twice until the alignment works well and the beam falls in the ground woods around the square.
I then proceeded to test and etched the inner circle;
This is also arranged well (third photo).
If your coordinate system needs to be adjusted further, simply follow the steps above a few more times and your spindle and laser coordinate system will line up quickly!
All the work I made for this project was made by M3D on the \"micro\" 3D printer.
The approximate construction envelope is: printing height: 116mm the following printing area: 109mm x 113mm printing area, higher than 74mm: 91mm x 84 I designed each piece, so that it can be printed out on my machine.
This requires me to break the Assembly down into small enough parts for my micro print.
For those of you who can print larger volumes, you can combine one or more parts, thus requiring you to use fewer screws and be more uniform overall
The body structure of your finished product.
The most effective design might be to print it into two separate parts and then connect them together with a few screws.
It\'s important to get Z-
Axis mounting piece printed as flat as possible.
Keep trying even if it takes a few different attempts until you can get a good plate mount plate.
Having a flat mounting plate will greatly improve the quality of the finished product.
To gain insight into why some aspects of my building end in their way, in the next few steps, if you want to convert your own CnC to a combined spindle/laser assembly, I will outline something that needs to be remembered.
Zen\'s CnC machine is designed as a milling machine.
It is designed with steel linear bars and lead screws on each shaft so that it can drive the spindle into material and be rigid enough, this will not produce a large acceptable finished product when doing so.
Therefore, it is better to add the laser etching function to the milling machine instead of the opposite.
Although it is possible to start with a lamp
Duty laser etching the CnC machine and adding a milling spindle, you may not be satisfied with the result if your machine is significantly deflected during milling.
If you have a 3d printer, adding a laser etching function to it is a very simple process.
Because laser etching will not produce force on your drive system (
In addition to maintaining the weight of the laser)
Adding lasers to a 3d printer can be done as I have shown above, so this and any other CnC machines you may have are candidates for adding lasers.
There is a \"work area\" for all CnC machines \".
This is the amount of space you can work on a piece of material.
Personally, I have about 330mm X-
Shaft and 310mm Y-axis.
By adding a second tool (
Laser in this case)
There are several things to consider:. )
The working area of my spindle remains unchanged, still 330mm x 310mm.
This is shown in the second photo of the purple Hatch. (
You can also see the laser area and overlapping area in the image. )B. )
The working area of my laser is unchanged, 330mm x 310mm.
This is shown in the third photo of red incubation. (
You can also see the spindle area and overlapping area in the image. )C. )
I have created an overlap area where both the milling spindle and the laser work.
Since the laser and the spindle cannot be physically constrained in the same place, this area cannot be 330mm x 310mm.
Therefore, the \"combined workspace\" of these two tools will be less than 330mm x 310mm.
This is shown in the first photo of green incubation. (
You can also see the spindle area and the laser area in the image. )
One of the main reasons for doing this build initially is that I want to be able to grind and carve on the same object (
It\'s usually wood but it could be anything)
So what I\'m most interested in is to minimize straight-
The straight distance between the spindle axis and the laser lens.
You can see from the picture I finally built, or by looking at my 3d model, you can see that the space between the spindle mounting plate and the laser housing wall is small.
I only let myself have a few millimeters (
For printing and installation tolerances)
Between the spindle installation and the laser housing.
This helps to maximize the \"work area\" of my spindle and laser combination \".
In my example, I chose \"lost\" Y-axis.
As long as you design the center line of the laser and spindle to align on one of the axes, you work along the working area of the opposite axis (X or Y)
Will be almost the same as its starting value.
In my example, I \"lost\" a lot more distance on the y-axis than on the x-axis (
I lost 65mm in zone Y.
Axis compared to X-2mmaxis).
The laser is more susceptible to dust and particles than the milling spindle.
So I suggest you do some habitat for your laser to live in.
It doesn\'t need to be the same design as the one I chose, but I don\'t recommend it only in your existing Z-
Shaft or spindle installation.
The only reason I add the housing around the laser is to control the atmosphere around the laser.
You don\'t want a dust-covered laser because it can block the beam when leaving the lens and/or reducing the effectiveness of the laser cooling system.
I have attached the photos I took after completing the spindle operation;
I don\'t want my laser covered with those plastic pieces!
Here is a list of all the projects and software I use for this project: 1. )
Zen tools works, 12x12 CnC machine tool kit comes with 3-
Vertical CNC milling machine shaft. 2A. )
Zen CnC laser accessories purchased this kit, but since then my setup has been converted as described in this manual. 2B. )2.
You would prefer to use a custom 8 W laser kit where you can order laser equipment directly from JTech Photonics.
All the items needed to connect the new laser to the Zen tool will come (or similar)CnC machine3. )
Acrylic laser shield laser safety glass cooling fan for laser cooling fan port (2x)
Cooling fan mouth flap (2x)Pick Size 01 (1\", 25. 4mm)
If you use the cooling fan port in item 6, as can be seen from the list of available sizes, this provides a tight seal around the fitting.
Self-tapping raised head screws (50x)
The M3D Micro 3D printer of the screw and nut kit of the long assorted head machine (
All custom parts for 3D printing)Linux CnC (
Open source CnC control software)LibreCAD (
Open source CAD software)OpenSCAD (
3D modeling software
The source files for all 3d printed parts are attached to useI, and hopefully this instruction sheet demonstrates the benefits of combining existing CnC machines with etched lasers.
Please leave me a message if you have any questions and I will do my best to help.
Next, I plan to make a custom electronic control pack for my new spindle/laser combo CnC machine to watch the instructions built in the coming weeks.
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