Model Boat Mayhem - Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length.
Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: Laser cutters and similar  (Read 4940 times)

canalpilot

  • Full Mayhemer
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 99
  • Location: NE Wales
Laser cutters and similar
« on: June 20, 2014, 10:45:29 PM »

I have read a couple of articles about laser cutters and then found an ad about a Stepcraft 420 which I think may be a similar machine but using router cutters in a drill.  It is around 700 against 3000 for a laser cutter.  Does anyone have any practical experience of this tool and how good it is.  One would have to be good on computers also, I guess, to get the plan down on a laptop. {:-{
Logged

TailUK

  • Full Mayhemer
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1,600
  • Location: East Midlands
Re: Laser cutters and similar
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2014, 08:35:09 AM »

The Stepcraft does look like a reasonable bit of kit and from the look of their blurb it can also be used as a hot wire cutter and to cut vinyl.  It has the added advantage of having a small z axis component (80mm)  which you wont get on a laser.  I've never used one but it look pretty good.  This said I've used a laser quite a lot and they're great, for the right job!
Of the 2 I'd say go with the Stepcraft, it would seem to offer the most versatility for the hobby user.
The computer skill required would be about the same for both.  The software is much more simple than it used to be and with the Stepcraft you only have the additional worry about dealing with "offsets".  I should imagine that the software bundled with the machine is fairly user friendly. HTH
Logged
No human society has ever functioned without models to capture, explain,disseminate,
persuade, sell, reinforce and analyse all kinds of ideas, values, concepts and situations.

canalpilot

  • Full Mayhemer
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 99
  • Location: NE Wales
Re: Laser cutters and similar
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2014, 09:02:04 AM »

Many thanks Tailuk, it is always nice to hear other peoples views, now I have to convince the club it would be a worthwhile investment. O0
Logged

CyberBOB

  • Full Mayhemer
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 143
  • Model Boat Mayhem is Great!
  • Location: canada
Re: Laser cutters and similar
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2014, 06:25:31 PM »

When I used a CNC router/cutter at work (20 years ago) offsets were calculated automaticallly.  In essence, you drew your cutline, and told the machine which side of the line was the finished side, and it calculated the toolpath from that.


The two problems with a router type cutter are:


Inside corners will be rounded, the radius equalling the tool diameter.  Not a big deal, a little filing to square the corners back up, and much easier than cutting and filing with knives and saws.
 
Keeping the sheet firmly attached to bed.  Our Roland X-Y-Z used a vacuum table to hold the sheet down, but cutting out small pieces caused a small shift when finishing the cut.   This was overcome by gluing the sheet down to some MDF.  If you cut through your sheet, but not all of the way through the MDF, you should be fine.  We used to spray our Acrylic\Lexan or whatever with contact adhesive.  The Contact adhesive was fine,  It was sprayed on the protective cling, leaving our plastic untouched.  Double sided tape would probably work great.  If your lucky, in the last 20 years maybe they've solved the problem of keeping things anchored.


It should be noted these are both minor issues, I am not trying to scare you off, just letting you know my experiences from 20 years ago.
Logged

canalpilot

  • Full Mayhemer
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 99
  • Location: NE Wales
Re: Laser cutters and similar
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2014, 10:17:51 PM »

Thank you CyberBob for your comments.  Hopefully in the last 20 years things have improved. You can see what this machine does on www.stepcraft-systems.com .  Their website using Youtube to show a video of the machine. :-))
Logged

CyberBOB

  • Full Mayhemer
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 143
  • Model Boat Mayhem is Great!
  • Location: canada
Re: Laser cutters and similar
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2014, 10:33:51 PM »

It looks pretty slick!


The table I used to use was much bigger - 5' x 10', and used a much bigger bit for cutting, which in turn imparted a much larger torque to the piece being cut out.  The shift seems extremely minor on this table, it might not even be an issue.  If it is, sticking your work down with adhesive or tape to some MDF works great.  Wish I had access to one of these!
Logged

canalpilot

  • Full Mayhemer
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 99
  • Location: NE Wales
Re: Laser cutters and similar
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2014, 08:11:39 AM »

 %%  So do I, but heres hoping!!!! {-)
Logged

derekwarner

  • Full Mayhemer
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 7,918
  • Location: Wollongong Australia
Re: Laser cutters and similar
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2014, 08:31:39 AM »

Guys....as depicted in the video......one or two compression bars are tightened down onto the work piece being processed ...it also appears there is a range of Stepcraft machines from the 300 to the 600 series

Please keep us posted...especially on the user friendliness of the software %).......[Corel Draw is mentioned in one blurb] ............Derek
Logged
Derek Warner

Honorary Secretary [Retired]
Illawarra Live Steamers Co-op
Australia
www.ils.org.au

essex2visuvesi

  • Full Mayhemer
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6,146
  • Location: Finland, England, Finland!
Re: Laser cutters and similar
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2014, 09:08:57 PM »

Im tempted to get one of these
Logged
One By One The Penguins Steal My Sanity
Proud member of the OAM  (Order of the Armchair Modeller)
Junior member of the OGG  (Order of the Grumpy Git)

dougal99

  • Full Mayhemer
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2,890
  • Huntingdon, Cambs, England
  • Location: Huntingdon, England
Re: Laser cutters and similar
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2014, 10:03:13 PM »

Is it my misunderstanding or do you have to provide the Proxxon router yourself and what is being offered is the bed and XY moving arm. From my reading the basic machine can be used with different heads, including 3D printer all of which are extras? This could work out to be very expensive  :police:
Logged
Don't Assume Check

essex2visuvesi

  • Full Mayhemer
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6,146
  • Location: Finland, England, Finland!
Re: Laser cutters and similar
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2014, 11:45:03 PM »

yep you need to add head of some kind.
They offer a proxxon one for 79 or their own for a not so reasonable 400
But theres also a 3d print and a Hot wire
works out pretty good if you want a versatile tool
Logged
One By One The Penguins Steal My Sanity
Proud member of the OAM  (Order of the Armchair Modeller)
Junior member of the OGG  (Order of the Grumpy Git)

Clive

  • Schaarhorn Bloke
  • Full Mayhemer
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 37
  • Today, I will be mostly building my Schaarhorn!
  • Location: Felton, Morpeth, Northumberland
Re: Laser cutters and similar
« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2014, 03:05:58 PM »

 Hi
 Just to mention that CorelDraw is excellent for 2D CAD, very quick to pick up and if the Stepcraft needs an offset line then CorelDraw has a contour function which effectively gives you the offset to any dimension you require. If you don't need the very latest version then it can be found for a very reasonable price. As a teacher I have access to a laser cutter, new 3D printer and a CNC router/mill (non-ferrous metals). The laser is amazingly accurate, often thought I could start a business if I could afford one, just got the 3D router now that's my favourite. I have looked at the Stepcraft unit myself for a home machine but have only held off as access to school machines is always available after about 5.30 each day. Bye the way if you ever want to go 3D then SolidWorks software is superb, we teach CorelDraw & SolidWorks to students from age 11.
 
 Finally though from the research I did the Stepcraft looks to be the best value, even adding the Proxxon drill - good deals at the moment from Chronos Engineering - it still looks cheap.
 Cheers
 Clive
 
Logged

Time Bandit

  • Full Mayhemer
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 175
  • Model Boat Mayhem is Great!
  • Location: Deizisau, Germany
Re: Laser cutters and similar
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2014, 09:50:29 PM »

We had a lot of discussions about the stepcraft machines in germany.
A lot of people bought one since it was really cheap here and I also saw a machine running.

I would not buy one, since I own something bigger (selfbuild 300kg CNC Router with 1000x500 mm working area).

So if you just want to mill wood and plastic it will work. Not too exactly (the portal is just not stiff enough). But forget about metal, it's simply not working because of the stiffness of the machine.
There are also some pretty strange design failures, which I as an mechanical engineer will never understand.

Biggest problem is IMHO the Proxxon. It's not intended for milling and it breaks down very fast. The HF spindle from Stepcraft is too expensive. Other alternatives are not available since everthing else is too heavy for the Z-Axis.
You could build a spindle by yourself (brushless motor...)

Biggest plus is the service from Stepcraft, but Im not sure if it will be so good if in English instead of German.
Im also not so sure if the software delivered with the machine will work in English, but it's heavily overpriced anyways.

In my opinion the Chinese (e.g. 6030 routers with HF spindle) offer more value for their price.
The machines are much stiffer and you'll get a real HF spindle for the same price as the Stepcraft with a Proxxon.
But you have to get into the topic much deeper, since you have to do a lot of things by yourself.

Logged
regards

Tobias
Pages: [1]   Go Up