Laser CNC Enclosure

I have a CNC laser engraver with 1m x 1m bed and I decided to build an enclosure for it.

Here is the CNC:

And here is how the project started:


What I was trying to accomplish? I am having some health issues and I do not think I can afford any laser light in my eyes or any fumes in my lungs.

So the enclosure shall protect me from that.

I started with bolting 2020 extrusions to the base, and building frame on top of them.
Then I needed some kind of hinges. After looking at many different options, I chose sofa hinges which were very affordable ($21 on Amazon)

I decided that I only need a good access to the CNC from the front.


And then I needed some kind of siding. I am sorry, but I cannibalized two doors:


Why would a sane person keep two fake full-size doors in a garage? Well, that was theater prop for some show that was cancelled due to Russian invasion in Ukraine. It was actually for April 1st fool’s day, and supposed to be in Russian. It it would be totally inappropriate for the moment.
Anyways, two doors got stuck in my garage and I have used them up.


I decided to cut it jigsaw-stile in the middle do I can attach both haves.


It was not sturdy enough, so I CNC’d some bracket on my other CNC. OpenSCad + FreeCAD Path is my toolchain.


Brackets milled:


and installed:


Yes, I know, 4 mm screws would be more than adequate, but I enjoy using 5 mm instead here and there.

And then I found that Y axis motors are barely fit. A tiny misalignment, and they will be scratching the enclosure walls. No problems, I cut openings for them in the side walls


and now the walls around the motors are some 5 mm further out on both sides


But I did not design the whole thing very well, so I had to build up walls a little bit. The challenge was – those sofa hinges are not parallel to the floor when closed. Well, there is nothing parallel or perpendicular about them in any dimension, so I had to do a lot of fitting. But otherwise they work great. Good thing is – wooden glue rocks.


And then I needed an exhaust.

I already have 4 inch exhaust system, but I had to re-plumb it. I had to cut through some backs of cabinet walls.


But I like the result. The enclosure I am building is on the left.


But cardboard has holes which I need to plug somehow. I went to JoAnn to look for some fabric and found faux leather. That is perfect for blocking fumes and laser light!


I also have found that my LEGO belt tensioner no longer fits. And honestly, it was not working very well. After some design considerations, I decided to use wooden wedges. They work much better than my previous over-engineered design. You do not need screws to tension a belt!


But how do I position the laser over the (0,0)? I used to set laser to minimum power and just look. Can I avoid direct visual inspection?

Well, I had an endoscope USB camera collecting dust. Why don’t I use it? That white circle touching the cross is the laser beam. The cross is drawn on the material I cut. I can sit at the computer, move the laser and see result on a screen of my phone. Very convenient!


But it does not work without glasses:


I am not kidding. Without glasses laser oversaturates the camera and you cannot see anything except for the very edges. You cannot see the cross. Green glasses block laser light just enough to make this setup usable. I am glad I did not trash these glasses when I have got them with some laser.
BTW, please do not even try to use glasses like that for eye protection against a laser. Buy proper eye protection for the wavelength. Vision is too important to jeopardize.

And the last thing to add is light for the camera to work:


The light is from my previous night stand. I had to replace it because controller died and it never turn the light off all the way. I hooked the light to 12V power supply and it works well.

Now I need to come up with new laser cutting and engraving ideas.

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