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11Dec/111

Laser Rebuild – Part 1 (Research)

My first step in resurrecting this machine is research. Less than 5 minutes of hunting around on Google has uncovered a couple of incredibly useful sources:

I don't have any experience with lasers and I'm rather fond of my ability to see so I started by reading A LOT on the grandaddy of all internet laser resources.  Sam's Laser FAQ.

Buildlog.net  - This is the home of the fascinating Buildlog 2.0 laser cutter project.  An opensource design for a DIY laser that can be build for less than $2000.   The most interesting part is the community that has sprung up around the design and is collaborating on improvements.   There's a wealth of information in the forums including this thread about another ULS rebuild.  Also worth looking at is the Makerslide project that originated with Buildlog founder Bart Dring.

Hacklab Toronto did a ULS renovation a few years back.  It's well documented here.

After reading through these projects and studying my own machine, here's what I think I know:

Optics:  Seem to be in good shape but filthy.  I'm going to do a thorough cleaning following the procedure I found documented in a ULS manual.  While I have them apart, I'll take a closer look to see if they've suffered any permanent damage.

IMG_0497

Linear motion:  Steppers and guide rails seem to be in good shape.  Both axis work great.  The X axis belt is a bit loose but doesn't seem to be losing steps.
laser_internals

Laser:  No joy.  I'll be replacing this with a 40W Chinese tube and power supply.

laser

Cooing: The original RF laser was air cooled but the replacement will be water cooled.  Need a whole new system.

Ventilation:  The chassis is designed to conduct air across the build area.  Again, it's filthy but intact.

Motion control:  The original electronics are designed to be driven by a windows printer driver.  They're serious antiques at this point.  I plan on driving it from EMC2 and will need a new controller.

laser_guts

Safety interlock and E-stop.  All the switches and the by-pass key work on the original.  I should be able to wire them into a replacement controller.

by-pass

Build Platform:  A 1/4" aluminum plate.  Scored in places but serviceable for now.

IMG_0454

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  1. I’m excited to watch the progress on this project. It’s the same model we currently have at Milwaukee Makerspace.


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