What is the best laser module to run on the MPCNC? How is it installed and how do you program the software?
best laser module
Best is somewhat subjective, and you cannot depend on any specs you read. And there are a lot of sleezy marketing including outright lies and bait and switch. I would recommend purchasing directly from the manufacturer, and I would stick to this list of companies:
Having watched a number of comparison videos on YouTube, it seems that, generally, similar $$ spent equals similar laser power across these manufacturers. What I mean is actual cutting ability as verified by someone comparing two modules, not the often-mythical power values the manufacturer reports.
Personally, I own a NEJE A40640, and I’m happy with it. Note that diode laser modules are not as powerful as CO2 lasers, so you need to set your expectations accordingly.
How is it installed
Instillation will depend on your control board. If you have an SKR pro or a Rambo board with V1 maintained firmware, then laser support is already enabled. All you have to do is connect your laser PWM wire to the laser pin as defined in the firmware for your control board, and a ground connection of some sort is also required. Other control boards beyond the SKR and Rambo (I’m assuming you are running Marlin) will require you to enable the laser support in the firmware and reflash your control board. You will have to figure out a mounting solution for your laser. There are mounts for some laser modules on Printables and Thingiverse.
how do you program the software
I assume you are talking about authoring the laser cutting, and not about modifying the firmware. There are ways of doing some laser work in a variety of applications, but I would highly recommend purchasing a copy of Lightburn. It is a laser specific authoring tool. I cannot stress how much easier Lightburn makes using a laser module rather than trying to use more general applications. While Lightburn can be directly connected to your MPCNC, I use it just like I use CAM tools for my router. I save out a g-code file and go from there.
In doing your research, be sure that whatever module you purchase will support the PWM voltage of your control board. Historically this has been an issue, though today it is usual for laser modules to accept a variety of PWM voltages. For example, my NEJE will accept 3V to 12V signals.
Have you ever used a fiber laser? I have been kinda leaning toward finding a well rounded laser module capable of engraving metals as well. Do you use or know of a quick connect mount for the laser and router? I have the pen/drag knife mount and router mount as of right now but will soon be adding a laser.
On an mpcnc you should probably stick to diode lasers. Fiber and co2 imho are best done with a purpose built machine with all metal enclosure and safety shields.
Are the diode lasers good at engraving metal? I have heard they have a hard time dealing with metal.
There are no all around lasers. Each wavelength has strengths and weaknesses. For a CNC the diode is pretty much your only option.
What makes a fiber laser incapable of running on a cnc?
First hurdle is the price.
Recently (last half year), I’ve started seeing infrared laser modules like this one. They are definitely better at marking metal than the blue LED laser modules. And at 1064nm, they are in the frequency range of a fiber laser, but at their low power, you won’t be cutting any significant metal…just marking metal.
When I first learned about fiber lasers, I went looking for a module that I could use on my Primo, and found, as Ryan indicates, they are expensive…typically, tens of thousands of dollars. And if you purchase a fiber laser machine, they are mostly galvo lasers.
Edit: See this page for a chart of the frequency of various laser types as well as a table of what each will mark/cut.
Thanks guys I appreciate it. I think I have about decided I’m gonna get the xtool D1 pro 20W it seems to be powerful enough to do most of what I need and still under $2000.