Here are some thoughts from Eric, member and moderator of the official Sculpfun user group about enclosures. I can agree to everything that’s being said:
|The importance of an enclosure for your laser.
When using your laser on any material, smoke will fill the room. And no matter what material you are cutting or engraving, that smoke is bad for you. Specially when you expose yourself to it regularly. And with this hobby, that includes all of us.
Plenty of materials are even high risk. For example, MDF. It releases formaldehyde, due to the glue that is used to produce this material.
I mention this separately because it is commonly used (it is cheaper than plywood). And often it is not listed in the lists of “not to laser”. But it should, when you don’t have an enclosure!
Is plywood safe? Nothing is 100% safe. Your barbecue isn’t either. When you smell it, you are breathing it.
For a list of materials that should not be lasered: laser safety / settings guide
Is leather safe? If you use veg tan leather. Even when using veg tan, you need an enclosure. It smells like hell when burning.
Chrome tan leather is dangerous when lasered.
Leatherette: no go.
Make sure that when you build an enclosure, you install an extraction fan that is powerful enough to extract everything fast enough. For me, the general inline fan doesn’t do it for me. I don’t see ready-made solutions, but you can find strong fans for industrial builds online. But they are loud. That’s why most people rely on inline fans. Make sure you keep the hose as short as possible. That way you don’t lose as much power.
Also, important! The air that needs to be extracted, needs to be replaced. Otherwise, you create a vacuum in the enclosure, and the fan can’t do its work. So make sure to drill enough holes to compensate for the air extraction (and make sure you can’t look through them, or you damage your eyes).
Place the holes on the opposite side of the extraction fan, that will give a good flow in the box.
When making an enclosure yourself: don’t make it from transparent acrylic. You are still not protected from the laser beam (or kids, or pets that suddenly walk into the room).
I highly recommend a non-flammable enclosure with a cheap webcam inside (one with a wide-angle view).
Living in a house with neighbors all around you? Don’t endanger their health and invest in filters.
I hope this will help some people (and their family members). We only have one body. Take care of it.
Building an enclosure
The pump for the Air Assist must NOT be placed in the housing! There it sucks in dirty air and thus destroys the lens! The pump must be mounted outside or at least get the supply air from the outside. I had solved this below with the ACO pump so that the suction line ran to the outside. It is better to mount the pump on the outside.
To keep the laser clean for as long as possible, you should think about the airflow when building the housing. Ideally, you should create an air flow that is directly above the work surface and removes the dirt particles directly. Otherwise, these can remain on the workpiece or be sucked in by the laser module’s cooler and quickly clog it up. As mentioned above, the pump must also be located outside the housing so that it does not suck in dirt and blow it onto the lens.
Here is an overview of the first housing that I built for my S9 laser and still use in a modified form for the S10. The airflow here is not as optimal as indicated above, but there is a supply air opening that blows directly onto the laser head.
The size of my setup is: width: 68 cm, depth: 66 cm, height: 47 cm (outer dimensions, wood is 12 mm thick); I ordered it already cut into right dimensions at the hardware store. It was about €55. Additionally, I put it on wheels to move it around (I need to place it next to the window during usage and remove it afterwards).
I would recommend increasing the height by at least 10 cm, better 20 cm. I designed it this way to reduce the overall size. If you want to use the LightBurn camera alignment feature (see below), you either need a fish eye lens (high distortion) or won’t be able to see the full work area. Using my €10 webcam, I’m now able to use 60% of the work area with camera alignment. On top, I have an additional power socket just in case and an on-off-switch which turns off power completely. I also had an old ThinkPad to use as a control PC and placed the docking station on the case. So, I don’t need to hassle with cables and can remove the laptop easily.
Ventilation: I bought a €15 ventilation fan plus hose (from Hornbach hardware store) to suck out the fumes, which works very well. No smell in my room as far as I can tell. It’s quiet as well. I can recommend this setup. At my window, I use such a cover to connect the hose to: Amazon-Link, hose: Hornbach-Link, fan: Hornbach-Link
AirAssist: I use the quite common Hailea ACO-318. I mounted it upside down because otherwise I would have needed much more room in the xy-plane. Amazon-Link. Further information in the respective section about AirAssist.
AirAssist Control: I connected a relay board to the controller, so I am able to turn the AirAssist pump on and off using M8 and M9 commands. Works fine – LightBurn turns on the AirAssist when starting the laser and turns off afterwards. It’s nice because the pump is quite noisy. See the guide on this page.
Since I had a 4-channel relay board at hand, I would like to connect the other channels as well and control the light and ventilation also via G-codes. If you use the standard grbl firmware, you require a high-level trigger relay (e.g., AliExpress-Link)
Light: classic LED stripe that I had lying around. Shall also be controlled by LightBurn in the end.
Webcam: €10 webcam from Amazon to enable the camera alignment feature (https://lightburnsoftware.github.io/NewDocs/UsingACamera.html). Works fine (except the short distance as mentioned above).
Noise: The overall sound intensity (without AirAssist) is really decent, it’s like a running PC in the room, I can have it in operation while working on the table next to it. Using AirAssist it’s still ok, but I need my ANC headset to continue working besides.
- I added a limit switch to the door of the case which turns off the laser in case the door is opened. Therefore, I put the switch in the signal wire. I will provide more piece of information in an extra article.
- The integrated window is absorbing wavelengths around 455 nm, which should help in keeping scattered light away from the outside. That’s also the reason the case is painted black on the inside. Still, I keep on using safety glasses while looking through the window.
S30 series enclosure
The dimensions of the S30 Pro Max case are almost the same as the old case. A few small changes were made. In particular, I added a recess for the air-assist pump so that it does not suck air from the interior.
The pictures were taken at an early stage, covers for the fans and at the door were added later and some other minor improvements were made.
S30 Ultra enclosure
Here is another update on the housing for the S30-Ultra series. Due to the larger working area, a new housing has become necessary. As a footprint, you need at least 80×90 cm. Attention: the laser is deeper than wide, so the front is the narrower side of the housing! I didn’t pay attention there, and so the laser only fit into the side of the housing! My housing has a height of 50 cm, this should not be less, if you want to install e.g., the Sculpfun camera, you require at least 50 cm, better 20 cm more.
The pump was integrated into the volume of the housing in such a way that it does not take up any more space, but is still outside the area with dirty air. This way, clean air is always used for the Air Assist and the lens stays clean.
For exhaust air, the bathroom fan mentioned above was not nearly enough. I took an inline fan with 350 m³/h capacity, which is enough to remove the gases. Attention: both at the housing enough supply air must be able to enter (I have made possible with three inlets) and the room in which the housing is located must have enough supply air to let 350 m³ per hour back in when they are blown out the window on the other side.
Meanwhile, Sculpfun also offers its enclosures, the links to the stores can be found under Media. The assembly is relatively simple, although a bit fiddly. In return, the case is relatively small in shipping, which is probably the reason for the design. Due to the gluing of the protective foils, it is also difficult to disassemble it afterwards. But, there is also a long size version for the extension kit. Below is a video of the assembly. Recently, a new version, the B1 has been released.