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Mark J

CNC Laser Cutters

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I am interested in exploring CNC laser cutters, if only theoretically at this juncture.  I have done a little bit of laser work at a makers space, but unfortunately that is closing permenantly.  

I'm interested in etching and/or cutting both acrylic and wood.  So what's out there at a hobby level or even an upscale hobby level?  I see adds for CNC routers with laser options at Rock-Craft, but are these toys or capable?

How thick a piece of acrylic can you cut with these things?

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Etching or engraving may not be too dificult, but cutting ability depends on wattage. Lasers are perhaps not the best choice for plastics, as they cut with heat and can easily leave a melted mess. They will work, just a little fussy in those cases. So, like most tool purchases, use the planned outcome to guide your decision. Don't expect to cut very thick material with anything less than a ginormous laser, as the focal point is where the heat concentrates, and it disperses above and below. I think the desktop Glowforge unit can cut some materials up to 1/4" or so, but that one is kind of pushing the typical hobby budget. Something like Epilog would do more, but better generate an income!

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