LaserBeam: Driver Complications

Hey everyone, Ikenna here with another LaserBeam update. I’m excited to see parts continue to arrive, with little to no QA issues. At this moment the majority of my time is focused on the 5A Driver development, our first prototype did not work as intended. Fortunately we have 2 separate designs and will be testing the second design late next week when the PCB arrives. At the same time we are reworking the schematic for the first design so we have more options and will give us the best opportunity to provide the best driver for the 7W LaserBeam. 

We expect to begin shipping Monday August 30th at a pace of about 25-50/week. We should be able to clear the order queue within 4-6 weeks from when we begin shipping. The challenges are completing a working driver, receiving acknowledgement from the FDA of test report submission, and receiving a large order of driver pcbs from our overseas supplier.

Driver Development:

Driver A-v1.1:

  • Unfortunately this design was not able to interpret the 5V PWM signal that comes from the Longboard
  • Mandatory Safety features did not work as designed; Key switch, interlock and power off reset

Driver A-v1.2:

  • We broke down each function that wasn’t working with Driver A-v1.0 and I’m more confident that this new design fix the initial issues we saw
  • DriverA- v1.2 Is being troubleshooted, then pre-tested before a new PCB prototype is made, assembled and tested against all functions that we need for the ideal driver

Driver B-v1.1:

  • Assembly has been completed and shipped
  • We had the manufacturer send the PCB early because we can finish soldering components very quick and that should save us a day or two
  • Will arrive July 29th 2021 and the goal is to  be fully tested by July 31st
  • If we find any functionality issues during testing we will begin to troubleshoot and rework this design

Local Designer:

  • To help speed up the prototyping process, we have begun working with a local electronics designer that already has experience working with Sienci Labs
  • His main objective will be to work with our current designers and help change designs at a quicker pace
  • He will also be able to populate and solder components onto new PCBs for prototyping faster than our overseas manufacturer can. Allowing us to test new designs within 7 days

Driver Design Compliance:

We are working with TÜV SÜD in order to independently test our LaserBeam to make sure we are in compliance with Health Canada, FDA and International Laser Standards. Testing can only begin once a 5A Driver design passes our tests so it acts as our bottleneck. TÜV SÜD testing procedure will ensure all safety functions work correctly, and our user/safety manual has all the information needed for safe operation. Until then we will continue working on our user/safety manual so it is as detailed as possible. We have also been completing the necessary FDA registrations so we can submit our reports in a timely fashion.

Production Heatsinks and Lens Focus Ring:

The manufacturing of the aluminum heatsink, copper heatsink and lens focus ring has been completed. The aluminum heatsink and lens focus ring has been anodized (black) and is being shipped now. This updated design should allow the G2 lens to be easily focused and solve the issue we had with the prototype heatsinks. As soon as they arrive we will begin quality assurance then assembly of the 7w diode, heatsinks and exhaust fan. The diode/heatsink/fan assembly is 50% of the 7W LaserBeam and the 5A driver, enclosure and air assist  is the other 50%.

Power Supplies:

Power Supplies have arrived and passed QA tests, connectors have been attached. We will have to repackage them with the AC cables as the box they came in does not fit both the power supply and the AC cable. 

Safety Glasses:

Safety Glasses have arrived and look great with the Sienci Labs branding.  

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Designs:

  • Laser Driver Enclosure: We have a rough design set, small changes once the driver is completed to accommodate all connectors, switches etc. 
  • Air Assist: We have improved the design with a sliding pressure fit and an articulating nozzle instead of a funnel design. But we are reworking new designs until we are satisfied 
  • Packaging: I will start playing with packaging ideas, nothing concrete until more production parts begin to arrive.

Testing:

  • PCB Design A: 5A Driver A-v1.1 failed testing, currently working on 5A Driver A-v1.2 (schematics look promising)
  • PCB Design B:  5A Driver B-v1.1 will arrive Thursday for testing. I had the manufacturer ship with a few parts unsoldered in order to save a few days and test earlier. We are comfortable soldering the remaining parts inhouse
  • Laser Diodes: Testing a new 7w diode supplier this week

Supply Chain:

  • Thermal Paste: Samples will be ordered Monday
  • Extension Cables: Connectors have been ordered, we ordered a small batch of wire to test
  • Lens Focus Rings: Completed and are being shipped
  • Aluminum Heatsinks: Completed and are being shipped 
  • Copper Heatsinks: Completed and are shipped
  • Laser Diodes: Currently have 150pcs 7w Diodes in stock another 50pcs were shipped last week

 Ordering Additional Safety Glasses & Lenses: 

Check out the link above if you need to order additional LaserBeam accessories that you didn’t order in your original LaserBeam preorder. You won’t be charged any additional shipping and your order will be combined with your LaserBeam Pre-order! 

Sienci LaserBeam Pre Order:

Place your Sienci LaserBeam Pre order here:  https://sienci.com/product/laser/

Answering your FAQ: 

Send your Laser Questions Here: https://sienci.com/contact-us/technical-help/

Check out our LaserBeam FAQ video, I take all your unanswered questions from the LaserBeam livestream and try to give you guys more clarity on the LaserBeam add on. 

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LaserBeam: Moving Along

Hey everyone, Ikenna here with another LaserBeam update. We have made a lot of good progress since the last update. Most significantly we’ve tested our sample production heatsinks with great results, and our prototype LaserBeam drivers will be arriving from the manufacturer in the next week or two. 

5W Generic Banggood Laser Power Test:

When testing the 5W Generic Banggood laser we were able to confirm that the real continuous optical power of 1.9W-2.2W which is far below the promised 5W continuous power rating. These lasers have their place in the market but if you are looking for high quality at a reasonable price I believe the Sienci LaserBeam is the best offering on the market. In the pictures below the top mW reading is the true optical power reading for this specific laser system. (1.95W, 2.13W)

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7W LaserBeam Laser Power Test:

When testing our 7W laser diode we were able to confirm real continuous optical power of between 7.1W-7.2W @ 4.5A (recommended current limit for longevity) which will keep both the diode and driver running for a long time as well as producing the exact power we are promising you, which cannot be said about lower quality laser systems like the one in the previous section. In the picture below the top mW reading is the true optical power reading for this specific laser system. (7.17W, 7.18W)

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Sample Production Heatsinks and Lens Focus Ring:

Last week we received some sample production heatsinks and lens focus rings. Good news, the heat dissipation is great and was able to keep the laser system 6 degrees celsius cooler than the generic heatsink when running our max power test file. Everything fits well and was assembled with relative ease. The bad news is that the top of the copper heatsink was just 2.5mm too long for the G2 lens to properly focus, using a very thin 3d printed lens focus ring I was able to get the G2 lens in focus. This  confirmed that I needed to reduce the size of the top copper heatsink by 3mm to make everything work, as well as sliding the set screw location down 3mm on the Aluminum heatsink. These changes have been sent to our manufacturer and they have begun production again. 

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5A Driver Prototype: 

I have been working very hard with our PCB designers and our PCB manufacturer to find any potential issues and solve them before we receive the prototypes and begin testing and designing our enclosure. Over the next 2 weeks we will be working with experienced testing labs to produce a comprehensive testing procedure for all LaserBeam 5A drivers. We will also use the prototypes to start creating our safety and assembly manuals.

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Safety Glasses:

Our safety glasses are ready and being shipped now. I have been using a these exact glasses to run all our LaserBeam testing and can confirm with my own experience as well as laser power testing that these are great safety glasses and your eyes will be well protected. 

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Designs:

  • Laser Driver Enclosure: I am waiting to receive and test our prototype LaserBeam Driver, I will continue to iterate designs until I can test them with the physical driver boards. 
  • Magnetic T-mount: The standard T-mount design is finished so I will begin looking into designing a magnetic mount.
  • Magnetic Air Assist: The main design is complete, I am now sourcing neodymium magnets to test
  • Packaging: I will start playing with packaging ideas, nothing concrete until more production parts begin to arrive.

Testing:

  • Power Supply: 12V 7A power supply has been tested successfully, I will continue to test 12V 7A to make sure we get the right power supply for the 5A driver and all the fans. 
  • PCB Design: Waiting to receive the driver prototypes, in the meantime devising a comprehensive testing procedure. 
  • Laser Diodes: I am currently testing a secondary supplier for the 7W Laser diodes to ensure that we have a backup if our initial supplier has a shortage.

Supply Chain:

  • Lenses: Tested production order successfully, in stock.
  • Lens Focus Rings: Tested product samples successfully, currently being manufactured.
  • Aluminum Heatsinks: Made one last small change to the copper heatsink set screw location, currently being manufactured. 
  • Copper Heatsinks: Made one last small change to the top copper heatsink size to make it easier to focus the G2 Lens, currently being manufactured  
  • Safety Glasses: Production is complete, and has shipped. 
  • Laser Diodes: Currently have 100pcs 7w Diodes in stock, currently testing a 6W diode to offer a secondary power option.

 Ordering Additional Safety Glasses & Lenses: 

Check out the link above if you need to order additional LaserBeam accessories that you didn’t order in your original LaserBeam preorder. You won’t be charged any additional shipping and your order will be combined with your LaserBeam Pre-order! 

Sienci LaserBeam Pre Order:

Place your Sienci LaserBeam Pre order here:  https://sienci.com/product/laser/

Answering your FAQ: 

Check out our LaserBeam FAQ video, I take all your unanswered questions from the LaserBeam livestream and try to give you guys more clarity on the LaserBeam add on. 

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LaserBeam: What’s Next?

Hey everyone, Ikenna here with another LaserBeam update. Pre-order went live a few weeks ago and we are very happy with the customer response, we now have a pre-order page for any LaserBeam accessories you might want. Lots of testing, ordering and designing is still underway but we are making progress very quickly.

Preorder your LaserBeam!

Ordering Additional Safety Glasses & Lenses: 

Check out the link below if you need to order additional LaserBeam accessories that you didn’t order in your original LaserBeam preorder. You won’t be charged any additional shipping and your order will be combined with your LaserBeam Pre-order!

Answering your FAQ: 

Check out our LaserBeam FAQ video, I take all your unanswered questions from the LaserBeam livestream and try to give you guys more clarity on the LaserBeam add on. 

Designs:

  • Laser Driver Enclosure: I am waiting to receive and test our prototype LaserBeam Driver, I will continue to iterate designs until I can test them with the physical driver boards. 
  • Magnetic T-mount: The standard T-mount design is finished so I will begin looking into designing a magnetic mount.
  • Magnetic Air Assist: The main design is complete but finding a way to mount the magnets and optimize the design to print better.
  • Packaging: I will start playing with packaging ideas, nothing concrete until more production parts begin to arrive. 

Testing:

  • Power Supply: I am currently testing the LaserBeam driver power supply. 
  • PCB Design: Waiting to receive the Driver prototypes, in the meantime devising a comprehensive testing procedure. 
  • Laser Diodes: I am currently testing a secondary supplier for the 7W Laser diode to ensure that we have a backup if our initial supplier has a shortage.

Supply Chain:

  • Lenses: Currently being manufactured.
  • Lens Focus Rings: Currently being manufactured.
  • Aluminum Heatsinks: Currently being manufactured. 
  • Copper Heatsinks: Currently being manufactured.
  • Safety Glasses: Currently being manufactured. 
  • Laser Diodes: we currently have 50pcs in stock. Looking to order more as soon as possible.

Lens Descriptions

Lens TypeDescription 
G2 Lens has the best efficiency (most power) and shortest focal length so it’s great for cutting and good for engraving 
3 Element Lens 3 Element has the cleanest beam profile (super detailed text, lines and image engraving)
G7 Lens has a good balance between the power of the G2 and the clean beam profile of the 3 Element.
G8 Lensis very similar to the G7 but it has a smaller focus length so you can engrave thicker material than the G8 because you would have more available Z axis travel. I will make a dedicated video for lenses but hopefully that gives you a bit of clarity until then.

Lens Test File

G2 Lens
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3 Element Lens:
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G7 Lens:
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G8 Lens: 
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Material Guide Chart

Youtube Video Guide: https://youtu.be/EizUVtjLsRw

MaterialCuttingEngraving
3mm PlywoodblankLens: G2
Speed: 2.2 mm/s
Power: 100%
Passes: 3
Z step per pass: 1mm 
For cleaner finish decrease power and z step per pass, increase speed and number of passes
Lens: G2
Speed :25.4 mm/s
Power:100%
Passes: 1

Decrease speed for deeper and darker engraving 
6mm PlywoodblankLens: G2
Speed: 2.2 mm/s
Power: 100%
Passes: 5
Z step per pass: 1.2mm
For cleaner finish decrease power and z step per pass, increase speed and number of passes
Lens: G2
Speed :25.4 mm/s
Power:100%
Passes: 1

Decrease speed for deeper and darker engraving 
1/4″ PlywoodblankLens: G2
Speed: 5 mm/s
Power: 100%
Passes: 16
Z step per pass: 0.4mm
Lens: G2
Speed :25.4 mm/s
Power:75%
Passes: 1
1/8th Acrylic (Opaque) blankLens: G2
Speed: 2.2 mm/s
Power: 100%
Passes: 3
Z step per pass: 1mm
Lens: G2
Speed :25.4 mm/s
Power:100%
Passes: 1
Organic Leatherblank
Organic Leather tends to shrink and deform when cutting is attempted. Although one may be able to cut organic leather. Beware that as the leather shrinks and deforms it can become a fire hazard as the laser is no longer focused. 
Lens: G2
Speed :25.4 mm/s
Power:75%
Passes: 1
3mm Corrugated cardboardblankLens: G2
Speed: 5 mm/s
Power: 75%
Passes: 2
Z step per pass: 1.5mm
Lens: G2
Speed :25.4 mm/s
Power:75%
Passes: 1

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Laser Pre-Order: May 14th 2021

Hey everyone, Ikenna here again for another laser update. Since my last update I have been testing supplier parts, finalizing our first PCB designs, testing suppliers and ordering parts for production. 

Designs:

  • Copper Heatsink: Design is finalized and sent to the manufacturer 
  • Aluminum Heatsink: Design is finalized and sent to the manufacturer
  • Lens Focus Ring: Design is finalized and sent to the manufacturer
  • Air Assist: I have updated the design but more fit testing is needed 
  • T-mount: Design is completed, if there is time I will redesign a magnetic mount
  • Laser Driver: I have our first 2 pcb driver designs. Will be ordering assembled prototypes this week
  • Laser Driver Enclosure: Now that I have a few pcb designs, I will begin designing an enclosure

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Supplier Testing:

  • Safety Goggles:Testing safety goggles is complete and I will be looking to place an order in the next week.  
    • To summarize the testing procedure: I used a laser power meter to measure optical power and then ran the same test with the safety goggle lens between the laser power meter and the laser. This effectively tested how much optical power made it through each lens of the safety goggle. Although most suppliers kept it under the FDA recommended limit of 5mw, there was one supplier that stood out. 

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  • Lenses: I have narrowed it down to 2 suppliers, will have a supplier selected by the end of this week
  • Fans: I have tested our fan supplier and am happy with the results. Our main fan selection needs more testing to find the perfect noise output to heat exhausting balance. Trying to make sure the main fan we select isn’t noisier than it has to be. 
  • Power supply: I am finalizing the connector type that is needed for the power supply. Will have samples ordered and tested next.  

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Supply Chain:

  • Laser Diodes: We placed our first order of diodes this week. I will continue to look for backup suppliers so that we can keep up with any future demand if needed.  
  • Aluminum Heatsink: Order has been placed for our very own aluminum heatsink design  
  • Copper Heatsink: Order has been placed for our very own copper heatsink design
  • Lens Focus Ring: Order has been placed for our very own lens focus ring design

Pre Order Launch: 

Our Pre order page will launch May 14th, price is set to $400CAD for the module + $60CAD for the safety goggles. Each laser will include 1 lens with the option to purchase more. Here are some of the things we still have to finalize: 

  1. Photorealistic product renders
  2. Finalizing a product name 
  3. Introductory resources so you may begin preparing to operate your laser module.

Just like this update, all future laser updates will be sent out directly to the mailing list as well as posted publicly to the Sienci blog & Facebook group

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Laser Development Update

Hey everyone, Ikenna here. Wanted to offer everyone a new update on the laser attachment and the progress on the development. I can break down what I’ve been doing into a few categories; design, samples and testing. 

Designs:

  • Copper Heatsink: Main design is completed, may make minor changes to offer better component fit.
  • Aluminum Heatsink: Main design is completed, may make minor changes to offer better component fit .
  • Lens Focus Ring: Main design is completed, testing fit with resin 3D printer before getting samples made.
  • Air Assist: Rough design is completed, will need to make major changes once heatsinks are finalized.
  • T-mount: Design is completed, if there is time I will redesign a magnetic mount.
  • Laser Driver: I have 2 PCB designers working on a laser driver design as we speak.

Samples:

  • Safety Goggles: I currently have samples from 3 different suppliers, I will test each one to ensure we are getting the optical density I need to ensure safe laser operation. Once I know which suppliers have the best quality safety goggles, we will place an order for a few hundred. 
  • Lenses: I currently have 3 sets of lenses from 3 different suppliers, I will test each one to ensure we are getting the best lens quality when compared to reputable North American lens suppliers. 
  • Fans: I have a sample set of fans from a very reputable overseas supplier being shipped this week. I am confident this fan supplier will provide high quality parts but if that is not the case, I’m in contact with a few other suppliers that I can work with. 

Testing: 

  • Software: Lightburn has been my software of choice, very simple, lots of features and reasonably priced. I will also begin using LaserGRBL for testing as it is a free option for customers and I’d like to be able to help with any issues that may arise with these 2 software options.
  • Laser Diode: I have been testing the quality of a particular 7W diode and am very pleased so far. I have been keeping current low when running tests but I will be running tests at full power going forward
  • Functionality: Currently I’ve been using mix parts from Amazon and North American laser suppliers as a proof of concept but as I get more into the supply chain the goal is to have a prototype that uses all parts from our final list of suppliers. 

Timeline Update:

  1. April 2021: 
    1. Test lenses at max current 
    2. Test cutting capabilities of G2 lens
    3. Confirm optical power with laser power meter
    4. Receive & test sample lenses, heatsinks, driver design, fans & lens focus ring
    5. Finalize list of suppliers using quality test results
  1. May 2021:
    1. Allow pre-orders
    2. Make last minute design changes
    3. Finalize all designs 
    4. Order parts in bulk
    5. Create quality control processes 
    6. Continue testing 
    7. Design and order packaging 
  2. June 2021: 
    1. Quality control incoming parts
    2. Create  assembly guide 
    3. Create troubleshooting guide
    4. Create project tutorials 
  3. July 2021: 
    1. Product assembly 
    2. Begin shipping pre-orders
    3. Focus on laser customer service/troubleshooting/community building

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Laser Module Attachment: Coming Soon

Hey everyone, Ikenna here. I just wanted to share an update about the new Sienci Labs Laser Module Attachment we will be launching this summer. Over the past 2-3  months I have been researching and playing with different designs, parts and laser diodes. Although there is still a lot of work to be done, we are now confident in our ability to provide the community with a great laser attachment. 

Over the last year and a half we’ve been building and shipping LongMills, we’ve seen a lot of users add lasers to their machines and so far it has been a very popular modification. However, we’ve also seen a lot of issues arise with the integration of aftermarket lasers such as:

  • A lack of documentation for installing the laser
  • Poor service and communication with sellers
  • Incompatibility between the laser and controller board
  • Poor quality and faulty lasers
  • The need for complicated wiring and splicing
  • Lack of software support in CAM
  • Questionable safety and protection for the user

We aim to solve all of these problems and have a simple, plug and play, Canadian designed and made laser for your CNC!

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These are the general specifications we are aiming for: 

  • Will be priced around $400-500CAD
  • 5A constant current laser driver with safety features
  • 5-7W optical power laser diode: 440nm – 460nm
  • 40mm x 40mm x 28mm turbo fan for diode heat dissipation 
  • Safety goggles with a protection scope: 200 – 540nm O.D 6+

The Sienci Labs Laser is designed to be: 

  • An entry-level to intermediate laser engraving/cutting attachment
  • High quality
  • Easy to repair or swap parts 
  • Replace the need for our customers to purchase lower quality lasers from sites like Ebay, Aliexpress, Banggood or Amazon.
  • Replace the need for our customers to purchase expensive lasers from companies like JTech Photonics, Endurance Lasers & Opt Lasers

What is a Laser Module Attachment?

The laser module attachment consists of a laser diode, focusing lens, heatsink, cooling fan and a laser diode driver. It allows you to engrave and cut thin material with accuracy and quality. The laser diode is a semiconductor device similar to a light-emitting diode in which a diode pumped directly with electrical current can create lasing conditions at the diode’s junction. Laser diodes can directly convert electrical energy into light.  Laser diodes require a special set of specifically designed electronic control elements. This set of control elements are combined to produce what is commonly called a laser diode driver or laser diode current source. Essentially, these elements determine how the laser is turned on and driven to produce a specific wavelength and output power. A good driver accomplishes this without damaging the laser diode and offering the user multiple safety features to keep everyone protected.

What’s Next?

  1. January: Market research/technical research
  2. February: Order prototype parts/create production plan
  3. March: Testing components
  4. April: Test working prototype & finalizing production parts 
  5. May: Pre-orders launch (Limited 20-25% discount) 
    • Order production parts based on customer interest
  6. June: Quality assurance & product resources
    • Create laser tutorials, troubleshooting guide & documentation 
  7. July: Product launch,  assembly & shipping

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Working Prototype V1

How do I use it?

Using your laser module attachment can actually be a little easier than using your router because designs are only 2D. This is a rough guide for those who see laser operation as a daunting task. Hopefully you can see the huge similarities between operating your Longmill CNC Router and operating your Longmill CNC Laser Module Attachment 

  1. The Laser attachment mounts to the side or front of your Longmill Router Mount with M5 hardware 
  2. You can then run the wires through your drag chains for proper wire management
  3. Connect  your laser and fan to the proper connectors, connect the other ends to your driver 
  4. Turn your driver on
  5. Connect your driver to the spindle/ground inputs on your Longboard
  6. Put your machine interface software in laser mode/confirm all EEPROM settings are properly set
  7. Fire your laser with 5% power and focus the lens of your laser until the spot is as small as it can be
  8. Use software to generate your laser Gcode file (Lightburn is recommended)
  9. Put on your laser safety goggles 
  10. Load Gcode file into your machine interface software
  11. Fire your laser with 5% power, move your laser to your project start point, reset your zero and begin your job

Community Laser Projects

Safety

When you think of a laser, safety may not be the first thing on your mind but I want to emphasize that this is not a toy and can seriously hurt the operator or damage property.  Just like running your Longmill comes with risks, as long as proper safety precautions are taken you have nothing to worry about. 

  • Proper Ventilation 
    • The laser module will produce smoke & other particulates 
    • Use a smoke/fume filtering system or open window or garage door for sufficient airflow
  • Fire Safety
    • Have a fire suppression plan 
    • Have a fire extinguisher nearby
  • Eye Safety 
    • These laser are very high powered, without proper laser eye protection you can damage your eyesight for life
    • Each laser module will include Safety Goggles with a Protection Scope: 200 – 540nm O.D 6+
    • This range corresponds to the range of optical density and what wavelengths you are protected from
      • The higher the optical density the less light passes through the material
      • 10^-OD x laser wattage = optical power let through 
        • 10^-6 x 7W = 0.000007W or 0.007mw
        • FDA recommends no more than 5mw to avoid eye damage
        • We will be exposed to significantly less power than the FDA recommendation
  • General Safety 
    • DO NOT CUT/ENGRAVE: PVC, ABS, Fibreglass, and any other materials that emit toxic fumes when cut
    • Never leave your laser running unattended and always make sure your driver electronics are turned off when not in use

FAQ

When can I purchase one?

We plan on opening pre-orders to the public May 1st with a discount  

When will it ship?

We plan to begin shipping July 1st 

How much will it cost?

We plan to sell the laser module for $400-500CAD (pre-orders will get a 20-25% Discount) 

What Software do I need?

The laser will be compatible with any GRBL based machine interface software that has a laser/spindle pwm control mode like gSender/UGS/CNCjs

Will there be any Addons?

We plan on having an air assist attachment available at the time of launch. Other addons we’re looking into are; magnetic mounting options, and a Pro version of the laser (more optical power)

Do I need a Longmill to use it?

Short answer no, there is a lot of complexity that goes into making laser drivers universal but that is our goal. Compatibility with other Grbl based CNC machines and 3D printers. 

Can I cancel my Pre order?

You can cancel your order with no penalty any time before your order ships. Please contact us through our website or email us with your order number and a request to make a cancellation. A refund will be processed through your original method of payment.