Im not going to go into detail about my laser cutting setup and details. I’m a beginner.
- Laser: K40, I don’t know the board in it. I got it of eBay for less than $500 US.
- Water Cooling: still using cheap pump it came with. Plastic tub below laser has distilled water. I drilled small holes for electric and hoses. If I ran the laser harder, I might have to add ice to the water.
- Venting: Blue plastic pipe that came with laser. Using same cheap fan that came for back of laser. Shimmed it too tighten seal and get better draft. The box fan in the garage window pushes remainder of smoke out the window. Double garage door is open when cutting and just six feet to left of laser.
- Software: Using K40 Whisper (check Google and YouTube, it’s free). Has worked great on my system. Use inkscape for basic art work and adding color to paths. It’s also free. For detailed CAD, I’m currently using SolidWorks, but would go with Fusion 360 if I did not have access to SOLIDWORKS. SOLIDWORKS is run on my work computer, the rest is run on my home laptop, only 8GB machine. K40 Whisper reads .svg files output by inkscape and inkscape reads dxf from CAD. Use Google and YouTube to learn more.
- No modifications to laser. Using stock bed, mirrors and no air assist. My laser has worked well straight from the box. I might be the lucky one or my expectations are low.
- Materials – till now have only cut plywood. How to cut basswood in future, including miles sheets. Also likely to cut acrylic, styrene is a no no, the fumes are toxic and gunk up the mirrors, it melts so not likely to cut well by laser.
I’ve had my system for 4-5 years but never used it till now. Ok, I made a few test cuts. I think I’ll be able to get my money out of it, but if I were buying a tool now… I’d start with a 3D printer (resin) and then get a craft cutter for styrene. I’d bypass the laser.