WHAT IS LASERGRBL
LaserGRBL is one of the best Windows software for image Laser Engraving. LaserGRBL is able to load any image, pictures and logo and send to your laser engrave with few click.Unlike other GUI, LaserGRBL it is specifically developed for use with hobbist laser cutter and engraver and could be a good free and easy alternative to picengrave, benbox, T2laser, lightburn for who don’t need more then a simple and effective tool.
- Load GCode with job preview
- Image engraving with grayscale conversion, dithering and vectorization!
- User defined buttons, power to you!
- Different color scheme optimized for usage with different safety glasses
- Grbl Configuration Import/Export
- Configuration, Alarm and Error codes decoding for Grbl v1.1 (with description tooltip)
- Homing button, Feed Hold button, Resume button and Grbl Reset button
- Job time preview and realtime projection
- Jogging (for any Grbl version)
- Power and speed overrides (for Grbl > v1.1) with easy-to-use interface
WHAT ABOUT LASER POWER?
Currently (July 2022) is it easy to found laser module with powers from 1.5W to 20W.
Please read carefully! I am talking about optical power: the only real important value.
Often you will find indicated a power that is the electrical power, this value is about 4 times the optical power, so 5W can be called 20W and therefore could mislead you.
Sometimes advertisers invent some weird power equivalences therefore it is not uncommon to find advertised powers of 150W.
here is an example
Be smart, always look for optical power in the specifications!
WHAT ABOUT FRAME SIZE
T shaped machine
Made by two aluminium rail, capable of working on surfaces of about 20cm x 20cm. These machines are suitable for those who work small pieces, such as pens, wallets, photo frames. They are the cheapest machines and you will hardly find them with air-assist or powerful lasers because their shape does not allow to mount heavy modules.
Square frame 40×40
Consisting of a square frame made of aluminum profiles, these machines are the most popular option. All well-known brands provide at least one model based on this design, but they are not all the same: for example some brand use plastic parts while others are full-metal design. Very important are also some details such as the presence of cables guides (drag chain) which prevent cables from bending under the laser head, burning and damaging the machine; and the presence of limit/homing switches.
Some more solid and robust models use double-size metal rails, like the FoxAlien Reizer. These models are more expensive but guarantee to be able to mount heavier laser heads.
Jumbo Frame (80×40 and more)
Only a few brands offer this option, one of these is NEJE which also has an engraver capable of working on 81cm x 46cm surfaces. This is the Neje 3 MAX with 10W laser that has a very competitive price (considering it has the drag chain).
Some other brands offer “expansion kit” that allow to increase the working surface for a little price.
HOW DOES IT WORK
Basically there are 4 elements talking between them
- Personal computer with LaserGRBL or any other G-Code streamer
- Arduino UNO board with GRBL firmware
- Elettronics (power supply, laser diode, stepper motor & motor driver)
- Hardware (rails, linear bearing)
Personal computer talk to Arduino board via USB in a language called G-Code
G0 X10 Y10 (Fast move to position X10, Y10) M3 (Turn on Laser) G1 X20 Y10 (Linear move to X20, Y10)
G-Code is the common name for the most widely used numerical control (NC) programming language. Basic command set include G0 (rapid positioning) G1 (linear movement) G2 and G3 (clockwise and counter-clockwise arcs).
Arduino UNO board with Grbl firmware translate this commands to stepper motor pulses, direction control, laser power modulation.
Motor driver transform low level TTL signal from Arduino, to high-power signals for stepper motor.
LaserGRBL is free and opensource, but it’s development require time and money.