My K40 laser cutter has been out of commission for a while now. There was visible rust on the Y-axis bearing and movement was really choppy.
It’s Chinese crap, what are you gonna do… But to be completely fair, this is pretty much my own fault. I made a nail bed with iron nails and the rust from those must have tainted the inside of my machine. The thing with these cheap machines is that there is no support to speak of. I was officially stranded and so I let it gather dust (and more rust) in my shop.
In all honesty; I truly have missed it. Projects like the rubberband gun and 3D cat were supposed to be cut on a laser, but fate decided I should do it with my ShapeOko instead. It worked to a degree, but it took way more preparation and cutting time to get to the same result.
So now I will finally tackle this once and for all. And I got to thinking. Why just repair it when I now have the opportunity to make it a much better machine? So I looked at some buildlogs online and will be starting to design my very own laser cutter: the LAYZOR. Patent pending. 🙂
Since I have an OCD brain, there were a couple of challenges I set out for myself:
- Use as many original parts as possible. Need as few custom parts as possible. Use parts I have lying around when possible.
- Feature a work area of 400 x 600mm. This is 4x the original area and imho a good balance between ease-of-use and size.
- Feed-through design so any length of 600mm wide stock can be loaded and cut via tiling.
- Total footprint must not exceed 1m in width, 750mm in depth and 350mm in height. Smaller is better.
- No external water cooling/venting solutions. Everything must be contained within the case.
- Adjustable Z honeycomb bed. No more rusty nails for me 😉
- Air assist if possible within the budget.
- All aluminium profiles must be cut from a max. of 10(!) 1980mm length extrusions.
- All cladding panels must be cut from a single 1 x 2m sheet. Preferably acrylic for safety reasons.
These last 2 may seem arbitrary, but there’s a reason. And it’s a big one:
- Total conversion cost must not exceed 500€ !
Now, I must add the disclaimer that I will not be cutting corners (get it? ’cause it’s a laser cutter 😉 ) just to reach this goal. I rather overspend a little than compromise on safety and build quality. If all goes well I will probably publish the files for other K40 owners to try and convert their machine. This will not be a from-scratch build. K40 owners are my target audience. I plan to do additional upgrades when all is said and done (new optics, electronics, etc.) but for now I just want a better machine with the same guts as the original. Let’s see where a relatively low-cost upgrade gets me.
With all that out of the way, I have a confession to make. I actually have already been spending a LOT of time on this project since the start of the year, and I would dare to say the design is about 90% done. With most of the challenges already achieved no less! There’s still some minor things to work out, but I don’t expect any huge setbacks from this point forward.
Here’s a sneak peek into the design:
Check the blog from time to time to see how I build this thing.