Our Austrian CNC laser already has a variety of tables, from solid vacuum to aluminium grid and even a professional cutting table (spaced-out horizontal slots to reduce flashback). CNCROi.com is now adding yet another to the list, a plastic grid table that fits over our solid vacuum table!
Why do we need yet another table?
You’d think there would be one table to rule them all but in reality, it all depends on the application. When I’m cutting wood with our Trotec Speedy 400 flexx, I use the aluminium cutting table as flashback (when the laser hits the aluminium it heads up leaving grid patterns on the underside) just doesn’t happen… the same can’t be said about other materials though, especially plastics such as acrylic.
If you look closely at the image below, you’ll see dots all around the cutting areas, those are flashbacks that occurred using our aluminium cutting table – this was a test so normal procedures to eliminate this weren’t followed, hence why you see this here and if you are a client of ours, why you didn’t on your acrylic we cut for you.
One of the ways around this situation is using our flat vacuum table and creating jigs to hold acrylic “up” above the bed to produce no flashbacks, I’d love to put it flat on the table itself but don’t want to mark-up my machine – it doesn’t damage it, just doesn’t look nice. I call this my vacuum Lego acrylic suspender, it was a test and although the parts cut out fine, it’s not the easiest to clean-up but it does solve flashbacks completely.
Although we have lots of tolerance with our Austrian CNC laser, you still need the sheet of material to be as flat as possible, hence why the plastic grid is miles ahead of the Lego (and other jigs) setup. The added advantage is that our vacuum table sucks all the vapor easily from the bottom, the above jig had issues with that, hence why I laser cut round holes in the platform. This jig is great for holding things by the way, but not so much for flat pieces.
Here’s a video showing you how the above image was made by the way.
Compare that to what I did last night using our new plastic grid table – using cardboard this time around. The results are night and day – I had my time lapse settings reversed so don’t blink otherwise you’ll miss the video!
The grid table is so good that actually most of the little bits cut out from the stencil actually don’t get blown away from our air compressor. The added advantage of using this over the aluminium grid table is set-up, it’s far more efficient compared to changing the tables from solid vacuum to grid (which is also a vacuum by the way).
Think of it this way, the more efficient we are in our shop, the more time we save which saves YOU money!
Laser Engraving and Cutting Cardboard
As the video for this one didn’t go according to plan, let’s take a closer look at the cardboard engraving and cutting on our new plastic grid table!
As always, engraving happens first, then the cutting of the stencil itself followed by the card being cut. There is some hold downs on the sheet of cardboard as well, not because the laser pushes or pulls on it like a CNC router would but because the air compressor is throwing lots of PSI down onto the sheet (on purpose to blow out the stencils as they are cut) and this can move the sheet around slightly.
The cards look great! I use to have some flashback on the “back” of these cards when I used my aluminium cutting table… not a big deal… but now that’s gone. This is a sample I give to customers and would-be-customers to promote CNCROi.com.
I thought it would be cool to take a picture of “what’s left” after making these samples… the best way to recycle scrap is to reuse it before recycling it!
Taking a closer look, you can see how thin and precise our CNC laser really is! Those are 2 mm in thickness, I could use shared lines or even 1 mm spacing but that isn’t really worth the effort for such a small volume of samples.
That was fun! It has been a very busy week and there is a lot coming-up in the pipeline. Needing a company with passion to match its machinery and capabilities? CNCROi.com is here to help… contact us with your project and we’ll turn your issues into efficient solutions.