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Old 08-18-2022, 02:38 PM
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Rktman Rktman is offline
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Join Date: May 2019
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Posts: 71
Default Laser Cutter Recommendations

Hi All, many of you have used or own laser cutters, so any advice or suggestions for a dependable desktop laser cutter would be much appreciated. (Not interested in a CNC machine).

It'll be used primarily to cut 1/16" - 1/4" balsa for gliders. Not sure if it's okay to also laser-cut hollow and solid carbon rods with a thickness of 1/8" but if heating doesn't produce any problems like toxic fumes, I'd also be using it for that purpose too.

Is 40W overkill or is it in the ballpark? A laser cutter with a pass through would be ideal, but if that jacks the price too much, an effective cutting area of 16" long x 3" - 4" wide should handle most if not all of my needs.

Ease of adjustment, whether the manufacturer includes laser cutter control software (not design software, I already have Adobe Illustrator), any maintenance issues, decent customer service and life of the laser tube would also be concerns. I won't need to use it continuously to make kits or anything, just on an as-needed hobby basis for my own projects. I'm looking to get something that doesn't require water-cooling, just air-cooling, and preferably something US-made and serviced. Recommendations?
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Old 08-18-2022, 09:29 PM
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Earl Earl is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 5,039

To be honest at this juncture, I could see getting a laser cutter too; well before a 3-D printer (though I know you are not drawing comparisons here). Lots of ‘news’ about 3-D printers these days, but I still have not seen the output from one (well, one that most hobbiests could afford) that really truly is ready for prime time.

A laser cutter however seems like something many of us could use and use effectively and productively.

So, yes, I too would be interested in hearing any recommendations anyone has relative to the general specs outlined above.

Earl L. Cagle, Jr.
NAR# 29523
TRA# 962
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Point 39 Productions

Rocket-Brained Since 1970
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Old 08-19-2022, 12:18 PM
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LeeR LeeR is offline
Retired with Way Too Many Kits
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Colorado
Posts: 3,226

My experience with laser cutting almost 10 years ago still has me wanting to own one prior to buying a 3D printer. I worked for a small engineering prototyping shop. I used a large Epilog Laser, and used it personally to cut centering rings and fins, and also lots of other materials like acrylic, poster board, and leather, for work. My only regret is not making a LOT more centering rings before I retired!

I recently bought 3D printed fins from Boyce Aerospace for an old Estes Maxi Honest John. They required very little sanding, prior to priming. I have not completed the build, I still must build the launch lug carriers. But the look and fit is so much better than the vacuformed fins.

I think my choice of laser over 3D printer is that I tend to make parts from wood when possible, and will likely keep buying commercially available 3D parts for detailed parts.
I have used CNC for cutting wood, but laser is still my preferred tool for things like centering rings and fins. I also have a wood lathe and enjoy turning nose cones, transitions, nose blocks, and tail cones or engine nacelles.
Lee Reep
NAR 55948

Projects: Semroc Saturn 1B, Ken Foss Designs Mini Satellite Interceptor
In the Paint Shop: Nothing! Too cold!
Launch-Ready: Farside-X, Maxi Honest John, Super Scamp
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Old 11-13-2023, 02:26 PM
scott_mills scott_mills is offline
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 253

I am planning to clone a bunch of centuri kits, most of the instructions I got from jimz , centuri used .05 fiber board. Did they always use .05 for all models? Does anyone think I might have any issues replacing with 1/16" plywood ?

Reason in posting here I am cutting all of these with my newly aquire atomstack r7. I have already made alot of centering rings, and oddball centering rings, baffles for bt20,50,55 and 60. I have also clone d a Rocketarium Rebel, in 1/16 plywood.
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Old 11-13-2023, 10:23 PM
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ghrocketman ghrocketman is offline
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Nunya Bizznuss, Michigan
Posts: 13,665

Every Centuri kit I ever built using fibreboard fins were the same thickness.
1/32 plywood would be stronger. 1/16 ply I would expect to be much heavier and way overkill.
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Old 11-14-2023, 10:20 AM
SolarYellow SolarYellow is offline
Join Date: Feb 2023
Posts: 229

1/16 balsa or bass wood should be fine.
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