View Full Version : Has anyone cut steel sheetmetal with their MM?

Sat 24 January 2009, 18:45
Just curious,

I did some searches here and on the shopbot forum and I've convinced myself that it could be done with the right bit but... I couldn't find any comments as to how much difficulty there might be.

I've read the posts on cutting Aluminum which gives me hope but wanted to check with all of you who are actively cutting to see what you thought.

I'm thinking about cutting regular or stainless sheet no thicker than 10 gauge and probably in the 14 to 18 gauge thickness range.
(I'm also curious about copper and brass sheet if anyone has any info on that)

Any ideas or experience?

I'm willing to be the guinea pig and give it a try but I'm still a few weeks away from a complete machine and I thought I'd better ask first.

Many thanks!


Sun 25 January 2009, 06:27
All you would need to do is setup the MM to have a plasma cutter instead of a router. All the mechanics are the same. You would just need to setup for smoke and spark control instead of dust.

Sun 25 January 2009, 12:23
Thanks Mike!

I definitely agree!

I would love to have a plasma cutter but it's just not in the budget these days.

I did more searching last night and found that Onsrud has a new bit for cutting stainless steel using a high RPM spindle (which is apparently much more problematic to cut in this method). I'm thinking this bit might work for softer steel sheet and non-ferrous sheet metals as well.

Hopefully this link takes people to the SS cutting bit...

I'm hoping to use router and bit method to start with since the upfront cost would be lower. But don't get me wrong...I'm angling for a plasma cutter :D

Does this seem reasonable?

Sat 07 February 2009, 07:01
check instructables.com, they have guides for making DIY Plasma Cutter. Should costs less than US$400.

Wed 18 February 2009, 03:55
As well as a plasma head ... a Laser head. Has anyone had thoughts or even tried a laser cutting head on the MM. Know of any links that may put me in the right direction?
One of the jobs I will be doing on my MM would need a laser head for cutting Thin guage ally sheet, 12mm MDF, 12mm ply and 20mm rubber. Also etching text on the job. The laser is the only thing that will cut with a sharp square corner in sheet.

Thu 19 February 2009, 22:43
Yeah, good point Steve... forgot about the lasers.

I looked into cutting lasers about two years ago and found that it certainly is doable but the laser heads were pretty expensive. I found a couple of links on
CNCZone that discussed using discarded medical lasers for this purpose but I don't know how you come across "Discarded Medical Lasers".

Here's a link to a collection of CNC zone threads on laser cutting (I hope it's OK to post these here):

I know of a company that makes really good cutting and welding lasers here locally to me. The company is Synrad and there are a few Synrad lasers available on Ebay but they range from about $8K USD to $15K.... Yikes!

Another thought would be to build a collection of DVD burning laser diodes and focus them on one point. The DVD laser diodes are about 200mW to 250mW (on average) so with 4 or 6 of them you'd be able to mark things for sure and possibly cut some very thin material.
(I've cut electronic anti-static foam and electrical tape with just one DVD laser diode)
They do have a duty cycle so that could be problematic but I think it's possible to do a reasonable marking head with these. ( the DVD buring laser diodes cost about $15 each so it's not too bad price-wise).

It's worth pursuing that's for sure. I haven't the time right at present but if that darn day job slows down a bit I might take this project on.

Let us know if you find out anything else


Fri 20 February 2009, 00:19
Thanks for the link Jeff.
I have found prices also from Synrad and they were nothing less than 15k :eek: *** I agree ***

Fri 20 February 2009, 11:22
I have an Epilog 45W laser. About a year ago I decided to check into what it would cost when it came time to replace the laser module, possibly with a bigger one. Unfortunately for my model the 45W was the largest available. The replacement cost, without exchange, was somewhere right around $4,000. While still very expensive it's a lot less than 15k. Although I'm not sure if any of the electronics are included with the module change. For those interested it might be worth a call to several of the laser engraver manufacturers to check pricing on their laser modules.

Fri 20 February 2009, 12:24
What are you doing with the laser? Cutting? Etching? Are you using it on the MM? :)

Fri 20 February 2009, 17:42
Greg - Some aerial display work? Goes with A/V department :)

Fri 20 February 2009, 17:50
Greg that's very interesting!

At 45W it seems like it should be possible to cut various things with it.
To echo a previous question: What are you doing with yours? cutting or engraving? or ???

I'll do some research and checking around and report back what I find for
cost and availability.

Thanks for the tip Greg!


Sat 21 February 2009, 00:39
Sorry Sean. Nothing fun like that.:)

I originally purchased the laser for engraving photos into marble granite and wood and for making small laser plastic signs. It's amazing all the things you can do with a machine like this. Now the list of things I do with the machine is almost limitless.

Unfortunately it isn't strong enough to cut metal.:( Part of my reason for looking into a more powerful laser. From what I understand you need a minimum of at least 100w with a CO2 laser before it will begin to cut metal. I did use it to cut out acrylic templates for parts for the MM that I then cut with a plasma cutter.

One of my reasons for wanting to build the MM was to have the MM cut out parts then combine them with parts engraved on the laser for a unique product I hope to begin selling sometime this summer. Bad timing with the economy the way it is.

similar machine.