Laser Area Expansion Project (LAEP)

What things would you use at the maker shop?
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Thorpedo
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Laser Area Expansion Project (LAEP)

Postby Thorpedo » Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:57 am

For the last month I've been accumulating parts for the laser area expansion project (LAEP) for the laser cutter. The expansion should give a 4 foot by 2 foot work area. Large enough to fit the end of a 4x8 sheet of plywood or acrylic into, without having to cut it on something else first.

Last night (9/5/12) during open house, Tony cut the two 2 meter long case hardened 12mm diameter steel rods into two 26.7 inch and two 52 inch rods for the LAEP's new X-Y table. The box linear bearings fit on the rods perfectly. I was also able to test the LAEP's new stepper motors using the laser cutter's current control board and they performed correctly. Now it is a matter of assembling the whole thing and building a metal case for the expanded work area. Then directing the laser into the new work area (by removing 1 mirror and cutting a hole to allow the laser beam to shoot out the left side).

XYTableStart.jpg
LAEP start
XYTableStart.jpg (47.68 KiB) Viewed 3153 times


I'll probably build the brackets for the rods, motors, and attachments out of PLA using the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printer.

SC12UU_LinearBearing.jpg
SC12UU Linear Bearing Specs
SC12UU_LinearBearing.jpg (53.22 KiB) Viewed 3153 times


I think this X-Y table could also be used for some other things, such as attaching a Dremel tool, or the cutting end of the plasma cutter to the head.

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wammie
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Re: Laser Area Expansion Project (LAEP)

Postby wammie » Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:51 am

Wow, Doug! This is a great idea and will bring us a lot more possibilities for creative projects! Are you planning to keep the laser unit operational in the original configuration as this expansion proceeds? Or, between times when it's actually being worked on, will there be some downtime until the new expansion is completed?

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Thorpedo
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Re: Laser Area Expansion Project (LAEP)

Postby Thorpedo » Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:33 pm

I think there would be some downtime. A few hours here and there when I'm working on it. But otherwise it should be up.

When it is the LAEP is fully operational, I envision being able to switch it back and forth.

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Thorpedo
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OpenBeam

Postby Thorpedo » Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:26 am

I may have found a good construction system for putting together the skeleton of the LAEP. Friday night (9/21) a Terence Tam from the maker space in Seattle, and creator of the OpenBeam construction system that was on Kickstarter, came by the Hack Factory and brought along some OpenBeam pieces. He was in town because his girlfriend's family was having a wedding here. He had some good information on Kickstarter. For the OpenBeam system he put on Kickstarter, hoping to raise $30,000, he ended up raising over $100,000. He said that for new projects on Kickstarter there is a new working prototype requirement.

People had pizza and played around constructing things using the parts of this cool aluminum extrusion system. OpenBeam is an aluminum rail system designed to use standard M3 nuts and screws, instead of pricey T-nuts or specialized connectors. The slots are also designed to hang onto 1/8″ thick materials — a common size for laser-cut plywood or acrylic.

OpenBeam.jpg
A couple kids playing with the OpenBeam construction system.
OpenBeam.jpg (35.18 KiB) Viewed 3077 times


I saw on his OpenBeam website that one can buy the one meter extruded aluminum sections for just $10 a piece. Terence demonstrated a $120 set of pre-cut parts and connectors that he will also be making available soon. The pre-cut set has parts in 30mm size increments to make it easy to build something without having to cut up larger pieces. He left a free set at the hack factory for us to use during open house.

Image

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otto_pjm
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Re: Laser Area Expansion Project (LAEP)

Postby otto_pjm » Tue Sep 25, 2012 4:29 pm

Sounds like a grand project.

One caution, maker beam may be a bit light for the dimensions you are talking about.

One hopefully constructive suggestion, there is a large community with years of experience building and rebuilding laser cutters at building.net They are also the home of MakerSlide which you might find an interesting material if the rods you had cut don't work out, I have a 2 meter chunk at the HF if you'd like to see it.

Pete

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Thorpedo
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Re: Laser Area Expansion Project (LAEP)

Postby Thorpedo » Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:46 am

Update: I am working on designing and printing some of the parts for the LAEP on the MakerBot when I get a chance. I went in on buying that industrial building and land so I won't have the funds or time to do much with LAEP for a bit. If anyone needs a lot of space for storage or something, there is plenty. It also has this ceiling crane thing that might be a good start for a 20 foot by 80 foot XYZ table. Also, David and Riley may have found a way to fund a larger laser.

GiantXYTable.JPG
Giant XY Table?
GiantXYTable.JPG (94.24 KiB) Viewed 3016 times


This month (October) would be a good month for lady's night (10/30) to have a special laser cutter class since there are five Tuesdays. Otherwise The next laser cutter class will be on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 6:30 PM. You can sign up on the Eventbright Laser Cutter Class page.

- Doug

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Thorpedo
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Re: Laser Area Expansion Project (LAEP)

Postby Thorpedo » Sat Oct 20, 2012 10:50 am

The new stepper motor driver chip installed and the laser is back up. Also, I bought and installed CorelDraw, for which the MoshiDraw software has a plug-in, on the laser cutter computer and so we now have good vector image (vs. raster images) use capabilities. I have been using DXF files from CorelDraw successfully using MoshiDraw 2012, the new software that controls the laser cutter. Adobe Illustrator files (.AI) can also be used. I was in there until midnight last night working on my sculpture. When loading .DXF or .AI files in MoshiDraw 2012, remember to set the file dialog box to "show all files".

LaserCutterCorelDraw.JPG
Corel Draw installed and the Hand
LaserCutterCorelDraw.JPG (37.36 KiB) Viewed 2923 times


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