Laser-Only Build

Hello everyone!
As a furry and a costume maker, I have a fun and particular use case; cutting large quantities of fur!
The Lowrider is a really interesting option for this, given the potentially huge work area.

The plan is to modify the design to make it lighter and suited to a laser-only workload. The main idea being swapping the X-rods for lighter, smaller-diameter carbon-fiber tubes.
Having no means to cut the wooden plates, am also considering printing a thinner Y-Plate using the very light and rigid Colorfabb XT-CF20, and standard PLA Y-plates. Since there is less need for Z-play, i will see to make it as compact as possible, likely with smaller Z-rods.

Before getting to it, I wanted to do a sanity check on these ideas! Do you know of successful lightweight implementations using carbon fiber tubes? Are there any existing mounts or Y-plate designs to accomodate a blue-laser-only setup?

Thanks in advance! I hope to keep you updated on this build!

Not sure I have heard of anyone trying carbon fiber tubes. The reason steel stubbs are recommended is every other tube people have tried get flat spots where the steel bearings contact the tubes…

If I may offer another idea… have you considered using a large mpcnc? Normally I would not recommend a large mpcnc but if your only planning on using it with a laser than redgidity and sag should be less of an issue. You could build it out of conduit, it would be cheap and light.

That said, won’t the laser cut the long fur in a weird way? Whenever I have had to cut fur (with scissors) I would have to brush the fir away from the cut line or it would end up cutting wierd. But I love the idea!

Oh, this has been done before with a carbon laser! Though the question here is how reproductible this would be with a blue laser. I am aiming for a 40watt and start from here. If not, then I guess it’ll be a matter of fitting a CO2 laser tube.

Overall, the potential for a huge work surface (3x1 is my hope) and the portability are the two reasons I am looking to build the Lowrider over the MPCNC. :slight_smile:

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Please don’t take the following as saying you shouldn’t make the machine to your own specifications. As this is your first post, I’m assuming you may not have had a chance to scan through the several “I’m new here, but it seems to me this would work better” topics. There are a lot, and often the new ideas don’t pan out, or turn out not to be worth the extra redesign or higher costs. A common recommendation is “build it stock first, then modify once you’ve gotten to know your machine.” This assumes you like the tinkering aspect as well as the finished product you’re working toward.

The primary concern that has been voiced in the past regarding carbon fiber for rails is that the steel bearings would chew them up pretty quickly under the normal weights and loads for routing. If your tool was very light you might not experience this, but I don’t know that anyone can provide a real-world example for you to work from. If I were looking at this approach, I’d probably hedge my bets by building to the standard pipe size so you could switch to steel if the carbon fiber tubes didn’t stand up under use. What I don’t know is how expensive the carbon fiber tubes in that size are compared to the steel.

For cutting the plates, a drill and a band saw, scroll saw, or jig saw will also work, and paper templates are available, possibly even linked from the build documentation. Others have also gone the 3D printed route initially, but as I recall most of them then used the machine to mill their “forever” plates. If you lighten up the machine to fabric-only rigidity, you may not have that option. If you have access to a router, a 3d print would also work wonderfully as a template for a pattern-following router bit.

Welcome to the forums, and best of luck with your build. I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

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Not sure if you are talking feet or meters, but a 3’x1’ mpcnc is not a ridiculous size. Many people build them to be 24" X 36" and still use them to mill wood. If your talking meters than I would agree the mpcnc would not be suited for that size.

I have never heard of and can find no information on a “carbon laser” do you have a link?

Generaly lasers are best measured in optical output power. The most powerful single diode laser you will find will be about 8W. NEJE (and many other Chinese lasers) are sold by input power, so the ones that are advertised as 40w (input power) are ~7w output power.
Also keep in mind you can’t directly compare the power output of different kinds (wavelengths) of lasers because the wavelength has a huge effect on optical density and in turn the energy imparted to the material being cut. (So an 8w co2 laser will be less effective than an 8w blue laser on wood) and some materials do not absorb certain wavelengthths.

Lastly it is not a simple thing to fit a co2 laser to a LR or mpcnc. Co2 lasers use mirrors to move the laser beam from the tube to the cutting head. Keeping the mirrors properly adjusted is extremely difficult (as in almost impossible) when you have 3 moving axis.

EDIT: please note that I only wish to inform you not discourage you. My wife does a lot of sewing (has her own business) and I have a friend who is a furry. So I want to see you succeed (it would open up all kinds of options for them) but I want you to have all the info before you start down the rabbit hole. And I wan to help steer you in the right direction to get this to work. So a link to what has been done before would go a long way to seeing how to apply it here :slight_smile:

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Thanks for your reply Tom! Indeed I have looked at the options with the paper templates and was also considering using hand tools to produce the plates. However, I would be willing to try less durable 3d printed parts if the overall machine weight will be lower.

You are right on trying stock first; especially since carbon fiber rods are much more expensive. Plus, wear is something I hadn’t considered before. I wonder if replacing the bearings by PVC wheels would help in this case.

My bad, I meant CO2 laser!
An acquaintance managed to cut fur fast and accurately using a 40W CO2 laser on a professional laser cutter. CO2 would be very finnicky and require a lot of setting up and safety precautions if installed on the lowrider. If I ever were to mount a CO2 tube, it would be on top of the X-axis itself in order to have the shortest path possible and the least moving parts between the tube and the head. But thst is pure speculation at this point.

view his setup in action:


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Is most of your fur polyester? I would think an 8W laser diode should be able to do the trick. Though you may need a couple of passes at different heights to get a clean cut, or maybe optics to create a longer optimal focal point would work. An 8w laser diode will cut through 1/8" of plywood so it shouldn’t have issues with most fabrics(white and blue may cause issues). The only issue I could see would be with cutting long fur. If the fur stuck up and got between the laser and the fabrics base than it could cause problems. But if that does become an issue a foot or air assist of some kind to press down or move the fur could solve that.

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@Swe_Nrgize10 was looking into using Ikea curtain rods.

Ikea Curtains pipes mounted for test

It could be a lighter option especially if you’re only using a laser. One downside is that they may be too short for your size.

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