Can I Use a Laser Engraver with my CNC Machine?
There is nothing as much fun as learning to use technology to help you create new projects. It’s what drives us to build the best CNC Router kits we can for our customers. So, it’s no surprise that one of the questions we often hear is if we have a Laser accessory for the Evolution 3, Evolution 4 or the KL series.
Laser cutting and engraving is a great CNC application. While it seems logical for BobsCNC to manufacture a laser engraver we have chosen not to. And since our CNC Routers were not designed to be used for CNC laser engraving we don’t recommend modifying them. For us, the issue is customer safety. The 100-watt C02 lasers we use for production are specifically designed to contain not only the material we cut but also all the laser radiation in a safe environment.
While most hobby machines don't use more than a 5-watt laser, whether it be a diode or some other type, the risks for burns or possible eye damage are real and extremely serious. The safest course for us is to encourage our customers to look for products specifically designed for laser engraving.
A word about eye protection. There are a number of short videos on YouTube that address lasers and eye protection, they are well worth watching. If you are going to operate a laser engraver remember three simple rules:
1. Always wear eye protection that is rated to filter out the wavelength (color) of the laser you are using.
2. Only use eye protection that guarantees an Optical Density (OD) of 5+ or more.
3. Avoid all direct and reflective contact with a laser beam. Never underestimate the possibility of an eye injury. Damage to the cornea or worse to your retina will be permanent.
What is Your Warranty and Return Policy?
Our Warranty and returns policy can be found here: Warranty and Returns Policy.
What Materials are Used to Create BobsCNC Routers?
Our Evolution Series CNC router frames are made from 6 mm 5 ply Baltic birch. The spoil-board is 3/4" MDF.
Our KL7 Series CNC routers are made from 12 mm 9 ply Baltic birch.
Can you Make Signs longer than 18" in Multiple Steps with the Evolution 3 CNC Router?
Yes, you would be able to put a couple of small marks (one at X 17, Y 0 and the other at X17, Y15) with a small V-bit before you release the clamps. Then you could reference these marks in the next setup with X back in the zero position.
Another method would be carefully measuring the placement of the workpiece for each setup. This can be aided with jigs or material stops.
The maximum width that will fit in between the sides is roughly 17.5 inches. The front and back are open for shifting the work as much as needed
The maximum width the router can cut is 16 inches, but it can cut unlimited lengths using multiple setups.
How are projects clamped on the table bed?
E3 CNC Router
The E3 spoilboard bed has 1/4"- 20 inserts. The kit comes with 1/4"-20 screws and wing nuts along with 8 clamps for mounting the workpiece.
E4 CNC Router
The E4 spoilboard bed has six T-slots. The kit comes with 1/4"-20 screws, t-nuts, and wing nuts along with 8 clamps for mounting the workpiece.
Is the Controller a 2-1/2 or 3-Axis?
Both the E3 and E4 CNC Routers use a Keyestudio (Arduino Clone), Controller. This controller is a 3-Axis controller. All 3 axes X, Y, and Z work independently. The E3 and E4 are capable of doing 3D relief carvings as well as cutting out shapes and engraving.
How Loud are the Evolution CNC Routers?
The Evolution 3 and 4 CNC Routers use either a DeWalt 611 or Makita RT0701C router. Routers are loud enough that you will want hearing protection. One reference we read online quoted 103 dB.
What is the Accuracy of Your CNC Routers?
The accuracy is highly dependent on how hard the bit is pushed thru the material. The theoretical accuracy is 13 microns (0.0005"). However, there are several things that add to error.
• bit deflection
• belt stretch
• lead screw error
• frame rigidity
• bit size configuration in the g-code
With all of these, the well-maintained BobsCNC CNC router will still be able to hold accuracy within a few thousands of an inch. (0.002" to 0.004"), or 50 to 100 microns.
The best way to hold tolerance is to make light cuts on the final pass. This reduces bit deflection, belt stretch, and frame flexing.
Do your CNC routers come with the controller and motors?
Yes, the E3 and E4 CNC Router kits come with the controller, motors, and power supply. The assembly manual can be downloaded from our website. The appendix at the end of the manual has a complete parts list. You will need a computer with a free USB.
How thick of material can the Evolution Series CNC Routers cut through?
The Evolution Series CNC router gantry height from the table is 3.3". The maximum height from the bottom of the DeWalt collet from the table is 4.5". Without a tool change, you would be able to cut 1.2" into a 3.3" thick stock or cut all the way thru a 2.25" (or less) thick stock. With tool changes, you would be able to cut thru a 3.3" thick stock.
Calculations for the answer.
4.5" -3.3" = 1.2" bit available to cut
4.5" = 2.25" of bit + 2.25" thick of stock
What bits can be used with BobsCNC Routers?
Our CNC Routers use a DeWalt spindle, which comes with a 1/8" and 1/4" collets.
Straight, V-Carving, Ballnose, and Endmill bits will all work. Any bit used for our CNC Routers will need to have a 1/4" or 1/8" shaft sizes.
Search Amazon for “1/8" in router bits” or “1/4" router bits” and select the bits for the material you plan to use. Small end mills will also work.
For examples of Endmill bits that will work with the BobsCNC Router and are also available on Amazon, please click the following links:
Endmill Spiral Flute-Straight Shank
For examples of V-bits that will work with the BobsCNC Router and are also available on Amazon, please click the following links:
Can a Laptop be used to operate BobsCNC Routers? What Port is Needed?
Yes, you can use a laptop as long as you have a free USB port
Our CNC routers use GRBL firmware on the microcontroller. The microcontroller uses a USB to connect to the computer. Open source software such as UGS - Universal G-code Sender can be used with GRBL to operate the machine. Both GRBL and UGS have good documentation on the internet. The assembly manual can be downloaded and reviewed here.
Software & Firmware
Do You Have a Warranty on Software?
No warranty is given nor will any refund be offered for Vectric or Estlcam software.
Please see the “try before you buy” on Vectric’s webpage. If the BobsCNC kit is purchased with Vectric software or with the Estlcam software, the refunded amount will be reduced by the retail price of the Vectric and/or Estlcam software.
Our Warranty and returns policy can be found here: Warranty and Returns Policy
What software is needed to run BobsCNC Routers?
There are several choices of software and many are open sourced and free. Currently, we are using Universal G-code Sender (UGS). We recommend the platform version. The firmware loaded on the microprocessor (Keyestudio Controller) open sourced and is named grbl. There is plenty of information on the internet about grbl when using the search term “Using grbl.”
Our CNC routers are like most CNC machines, as they use g-code files. The g-code files are text files that can be computer generated or written by hand.
There are several software/program options for CAD/CAM design. We offer Vectric and EstlCAM software through our online store. Vectric’s V-Carve Desktop and V-Carve Pro are a great choice for designing and creating your g-code for your projects.
Please see www.vectric.com for additional information as well as free, downloadable versions. Please note, the free version will let you learn and create projects, but will not let you create the g-code. For EstlCAM, please visit their website for a free trial: https://www.estlcam.de/.
Other CAM software to check out: Autodesk Fusion 360, EstlCAM, MakerCAM, or ArtCAM 2D.
You will need a computer with an open USB. Once you download the software, discussed above, to generate and interpret the g-code, you will be ready to create your projects with our CNC Routers.