Ebay Chinese 100W Laser Cutter

I want to share the thought and process to buying this laser.  I wanted some certain things in a laser when I purchased it.  I wanted to cut 1/4 plywood really easily, so I wanted a machine that “could” cut 1/2 wood.  The bulk of my work would be cutting through 1/4 plywood.  I decided that 100W can do 1/2 so I settled on 100W.

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2 Sided Machining a Native American Flute

Our lofty goal was to have a precision blank that could be made on our CNC machine that could then be personalized on the lathe or however the student saw fit.  The problem with the blanks available is that they are fairly expensive, not customizable and the precision I was most interested in is the hole placement.  Blanks available are not already drilled for holes.  We were not aiming for a finished flute, but I wanted a proof of concept that the Slow air chamber and flute parts work, so we designed a working prototype that is actually a finished flute.  It would be easier to test a finished product.  The first test worked perfectly and the sound quality is superb, but it is royally out of tune and we are working as a class to devise a plan to create a prototype that we can move and individually tune specific holes.  With this prototype we will be able to plan each individual note and customize each student’s flute to the desired key and scale desired.

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CNC Star Wars carving the Millennium Falcon

This entire project was designed to test our ability to accurately machine 2 sides of a part.  Accurately aligning the second side to match up to the first side boggled my mind and I tended to steer students away from this.  We settled on the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars.  It has good detail on 2 sides, but we wouldn’t be able to get the detail on the edge of it.  Since most of  the detail is on the top and bottom, this seemed acceptable.  We had to make a new CNC table that easily and accurately aligns to the actual bed of the machine and has a home that can be aligned to without thought.  Here is a link to the details of the table we made.

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New CNC Routing Table

We have always loved our CNC vacuum table that came with our Multicam machine.  We have t-slots on 2 of our other machines and dread every part of holding down parts.  That was until we created our own t-slot hold downs (info available on our website here).  Since the use of these holdowns, we have not only accepted t-slots as a viable option, but have found that they offer advantages in certain situations.  The problem I have with most hold downs is the fact that they cover up some of the cutting surface.  Ours do not.

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From Solidworks to Vectric Aspire to CNC

We have known about designing boxes and cabinets in Solidworks and then cut the parts out on the CNC for some time, but we hadn’t made it happen yet.   I love this system because it takes the best of both softwares and helps create awesome work.  Solidworks handles the Assemblies so well and Vectric Aspire handles the vectors and post-processing for CNC so well.   Continue reading

T-slot CNC table hold downs


Holding things down on a CNC can be the most frustrating part of the entire process.  Luckily for us our main machine has a vacuum table and we use window sealant foam for the back of the wood.  This works amazingly well for parts that are not cut through.  We have had to get creative for parts that need cutting all the way through.  Our large machine has an MDF table that has T-Slots cut into it and it requires hold downs.  I have seen all sorts of solutions for this, but few solved my main concern of wanting to carve on the entire board unhindered by the hold downs.

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