Future Laser Conversion Option?

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#1

This is probably a really dumb question, but google didn’t give me a good answer, and I will continue to look into it even if no one has an answer, but -as a completely laser ignorant individual - would it be feasible to have a variety of tube replacements in the future to, say, convert my Glowforge CO2 laser into a Glowforge HE laser or HE-NE Laser? Just curious. I’m sure that someone with enough time, money, and warranty-voiding technical skill could figure it out :smile:
I say this in the interest of possible metal-cutting modifications probably several years down the road. (alternatively, adjustments could be made to the power supply.) Just throwing this out there as an idea.


#2

"there are no rules here-- we’re trying to accomplish something."
Thomas A. Edison


#3

Would think there is a lot more to it than the tube itself; power supplies, maybe mirror coatings, etc… That said, I have no idea. But I will ask another barely related question that I have been holding on to for some time… The Basic is 40 watts, the Pro is 45 watts, the output is relatively close. Because the wattage is similar, I wonder if the same custom tube is being used for both with just changes in cooling and the power supplied? The issue of purchasing a replacement tube from only one source is also on my mind.


#4

For metal cutting you would really want to convert it to a MUCH higher power CO2 laser, or an (equally high power) Nd-YAG laser.

I suppose it might be feasible to do, but there are so many possible issues you are better off just waiting until Glowforge makes one.

For starters, just imagine the effect of shooting hot metal sparks around inside a plastic box…


#5

Good point, hadn’t thought of that, but it would simplify things.


#6

Ha! :slight_smile: yeah, you make a very good point. I should probably avoid melting the casing just because I see some comments hoping for metal cutting capabilities. I actually went to a Christmas party with a huge, industrial metal cutting laser. Supposedly the most expensive part of it was keeping up with the cooling. Leave it to me to suggest melting a 5000 dollar piece of equipment :wink:


#7

Not saying that they are using one tube for both. Just wondering. Whether they are pushing the Pro to the max rating of the tube (or higher). I’m sure they don’t have any reliability data but it does cross my mind. My use of a laser has never extended to the point where I had to worry about tube replacement. On other machines it seems you can purchase replacement tubes from a couple of sources. With GF it may only be available from them due to the custom design.


#8

I would be prone to agree with that. Of course you could always get it custom made as well, but the cost would be exponentially more as I would assume Glowforge will get a discount for ordering many custom made tubes instead of one


#9

If you go to the Kern site here you’ll see the most their 400W laser can cut is 4.8mm of mild steel and their 150W is 2.3mm plus you need a gas assist system if you don’t want to spend a lot of time deburring your output. If you go here you’ll see that at full capacity their systems typically draw 12,100W. There is another thread somewhere about the glowforge power draw and it was estimated at 1400W with air filter (not directly from Dan, but he didn’t correct us.) A typical US household outlet is on a 1,650W circuit and an electric dryer is on a 6,600W circuit. Assuming you can find a 150W laser tube that fits in the space of the glowforge’s custom laser tube, don’t forget your power supply modifications and gas assist system at the cutting head. Good Luck :wink:


#10

Thanks. Those are definitely some of the details I was interested in learning about. Pretty sure I will keep my Glowforge modding to a minimum (and only after the year warranty has passed.) :smile:


#11

Dan posted the original 1400W estimate. 800W for the Basic and 600W for the filter. It was long enough ago that I would still consider it just an estimate.


#12

As cool as it would be to convert the Glowforge to use He/He-Ne/Nd-YAg/higher power CO2 physics, I don’t think it’d be worth your effort. At that point, the only thing you’re really reusing is the XY gantry and camera systems. Your power supply, cooling system, and lots of other system controls would need to be heavily modified or replaced to drive them. Not to mention the fact that you’d have to completely re-make the enclosure to fit everything :grimacing:

Metal cutting lasers are much harder to get into non-industrial spaces for reasons that have been brought up above - you need a ton of power (CO2 lasers have a <40% max efficiency), lots of cooling, and more robust safety precautions.


#13

These are all issues you will be solving for the Glowforge Full Metal option package next year, right? :smirk:


#14

I can neither confirm nor deny any involvement in future projects :wink:


#15

I worked at a precision sheet metal shop for several years and yes, the most expensive part of running the 5000w Trumpf laser was cooling- to the tune of liquid nitrogen. Furthermore, liquid oxygen was used as the cutting agent for mild steel.

I’m not so sure a true work horse metal cutting laser is something that will ever be in the hobby/ homeowner market.


#16

makes sense. still, gotta have crazy ides to have any chance to create stuff that is spectacular :slight_smile: