I run and program a 2000W laser cutter at my job. I also used to use a PlasmaCAM all of the time at school, so I am familiar with how to design things for these machines and love using them. However, I can only use the LASER at work occasionally, and I no longer have access to the plasma at work. I don't have reliable shop access so building a plasma is out until that is resolved. Since I work a lot with electronics, I figured a small laser cutter would be great for robotics and circuit boards.
I started off designing everything in 2D in QCAD. I then imported things to sketchup to check the fitup.
I ended up adding a spindle to mill circuit boards and other light machine work. I cut out all of the pieces at work (about 2 hours of machine time) and spent a weekend welding it together. This is where I am at with it now:
Nema 34 steppers all around, with 2 on the x axis, and sensors to stop one if the other stall.
16mm fully supported rails
12mm 5mm pitch ballscrews.
X travel ~30"
Y travel ~28"
Z travel ~6"
40W CO2 LASER
480W ER11 Spindle
Most of the parts are ordered and have arrived, including the tube, all power supplies, air pump, coolant pump, heater core (to be used to cool the tube), fans, motors, drivers, ballscrews, rails, and hardware.
The outside dimensions are 45" x 45" x 24" tall. The largest weldment weighs 140 pounds. This is importantt because I carved out exactly 45" square of floorspace in my bedroom (Remember, no shop space), which brings up an important issue: Fume extraction.
I recently graduated high school, and will continue living with my parents until I finish college. This means I am stuck with their rules, such as not filling up the garage with more tools, and more importantly, no running ventillation ducts out of my window. As such, I have to build a fancy fume extractor to get all of the nasty acrylic fumes out of the air.
To do this, I will have a 6" dryer duct coming from the bottom of the machine, into a screen and filter housing. The housing holds some generic filters just to keep out big stuff. This filter box is coupled to a bouncy castle blower from ebay, which bolts onto a plate holding a truck intake filter. This bolts onto a metal housing holding a hepa filter form an air purifier surrounded by activated carbon. The air then goes through more of the generic filter material to catch any carbon dust, and out through a 6" diameter opening into the room, or wherever I duct it to.
I mocked it up out of cardboard. This thing still has gnarly flow/pressure despite all of the filters, and will gladly become a hovercraft if I block off the outlet.
I highly recommend these little blowers. They are 480 watts and have motors whose speed is locked to mains frequency. This means if you choke them off they just draw less amperage because they move less air, as opposed to spinning real fast and whining like a vacuum cleaner motor. I got mine for $42 shipped from ebay, new. Let me know if anyone wants the source to these or any other parts.