The components of my current printing installations are inspired by mechanical and biological movement principles. Through manual sketches and wooden prototypes I gradually modify the shapes until I am satisfied with this. To quickly test principles of motion, I purchased my own small size laser cutter, the famous (infamous) k40 laser cutter.

I did research on the pros and cons of this laser cutter. Opinions are divided about the quality, safety and accuracy, but almost everyone agrees that for such a small amount you get a not bad device. But you have to be hands on and modify a lot. I thought that was a nice challenge, to gain more knowledge about the tools I use through this device. You really only start the know your tools when you can repair them or make them yourself.

I’ll show some of my work on this machine as I believe the tools you work with are as much a part of your job as the results it produces.

Initial set up
As expected when the laser cutter arrived, quite a lot had to be done. After re-grounding the laser and checking all the wiring and often soldering again, I placed the laser cutter level on a custom chassis. Close to a window for ventilation and free from other machines.

The pump for cooling is on the same plug block as the laser cutter. So you can not turn on the laser cutter without turning on the cooler. When the laser cutter is switched on, the extraction is also immediately switched on.

For the software, I installed K40 Whisperer by Scorch Works.

Furthermore I’ve aligned the mirrors and the lens, which involved a lot of test-firing and looking at the pieces of tape what the beam does and where it moves. I replaced the material clamping system for an adjustable honeycomb bed. Thus, the work surface is optimized. The adjustable bed requires some work to bring the laser in focus. But with a ramp test this is quickly resolved. I also bought an air assist to prevent the lens from getting dirty quickly by smoke.

These adjustments have already given me more understanding about the laser cutter and how it works. It also gives me the freedom to quickly prototype and learn more.