Which Engraver is for me?

As a hobby I scratch build radio control model boats. I design the model of real boats from pictures, transfer the drawn frames to wood, then cut the wood and shape it on a sander and fine tune it with files. A labor intensive process. The current project was designed and drawn with paper and pencil. While recently watching a Youtube video the person was using a model of the Falcon2 Pro to cut thin wood. I thought coming to the modern age and possibly using a device like this would help me save time.

I started the design of my next boat in QCad. Not knowing much about these Engravers/Cutters I guess I will have to import my project by each layer into Lightburn or whatever other software to send the project to the Engraver?

I use the following materials…
1/32 - 1/4 inch basswood
1/4 inch plywood type material, baltic plywood and pine
Thin brass, perhaps up to 1/16 inch

I’m retired and on a limited budget. Would the Falcon2 12w be sufficient for what I do?

Hi there.

I have a Falcon 2 22w, so I can’t speak for the other power available.
I haven’t experienced any other laser before, so the below info is really based only on the 22w.

I’ve talked with some people using lasers on a daily basis for business, and most of them confirmed that for diode laser, the higher the power, the less precision you get. They mostly said the sweet spot is around 20w. The reason beind that a diode laser has multiple diodes with the beam concentrated on the same focal point. If you add too many diodes, you apparently can’t get them aligned well enough for a given point - that is MY non-technical understanding!!! However, the extra power does make a difference for the thickness you can cut, but you’ll get a wider cut line. That might not be an issue in a lot of cases I think, but can be somewhat bad when engraving. It’s like using a really thin saw blade on a bench saw compared to a sturdy one that would be wider.

This being said, I’ve cut 3mm thick birch planks, 2.6mm mdf and 3mm plywood so far, and these were cut like butter in a single pass.
I think that a 12w could cut these if you just slow the travel speed down a bit - make sure you do have an air assist to prevent fires.

I haven’t tried on any metal so I can’t say anything about your 1/16 brass sheet.

Also, note that diode lasers aren’t good for cutting transparent things like acrylic (blue beam goes right through) but engraving them is feasible with some tricks.

I do hope this helps a bit. If you just started looking, I recomment you wait for sales - I got my Falcon 2 22w at 50% off just after christmas.

Good luck!

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Acrylic I can deal with the method I use now. And thin brass, as long as it’s not glossy I read it can be cut. No immediate plans for engraving but as I learn to use an engraver I would get to it someday maybe.

So based on what you said. If I create a something in QCad and import into whatever engraver software, it sounds like the engraver might not give me an accurate cut on the boat frames I created? I might have to allow for thickness of the laser diode cut in my drawing?

Thanks for the tip on sales. I’m in no rush to buy until I get better educated. And depending, there might be a 3D printer in my future ass well.

Sorry - my explanation might have been a bit confusing.
No matter what you use for cutting, you’ll always get a “cut width” that you have to account for. The 22w is about 1/10 mm, which is amazing. The way you describe your process, you sand the outside until you get to your “line”. If 1/10mm is an acceptable tolerance, you won’t need to change anything from your design to the cutting.

…however, note that cutting wood with a laser cutter gets the side all charred, so you might want to lightly sand the sides if that matters, which can also add a bit of width to your cut line that you have to account for in your CAD software.

I was just wondering if it’s best to buy a laser with more power and then turn it down for good accuracy…?

I guess what I mean is if you buy a higher power laser can you turn the power down to achieve more accuracy…?

Great question Jim!

From this picture on Creality site, you can see how 4 6w diode add up for the 22w on my falcon 2.
What I was mentioning in a previous post is that the more lasers you add up, the more “noise” you might get on the final focal point, which causes the cut line to be less precise.

I think (Please keep in mind I’m no expert) that even if you turn down the power, it won’t change much on the focal point.

I’ve been told that for this reason, a ~20w laser is a sweet spot for engraving and cutting - you get the precision to engrave (~1/10mm) plus enough power to do some relatively good cutting.
I do encourage you to do some searches on Youtube for people that did cut tests with various power/material combinations. It’ll show you what can be cut at various powers - which might be a decisive point for when you are ready to buy!

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Thanks. Good answer… :+1:

I’ll have to do some YT research and I’ll know more about it so when my accountant (wifey) approves… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

That’s easy…just find the right projects you can realise so it’s easirer to “sell” :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
A great example is that Wine rack from Wet.Coast!