For several months now I’ve been working on a new device: a Vacuum Table for Laser Cutters and Engravers.
The main purpose of a vacuum table is to hold FLAT thin stock during engraving and cutting. It works well with things like cardstock, leather, thin plywood and acrylic. When laser cutting/engraving such objects, it has to stay still and it has to stay flat. To achieve this, various clamping methods are used, but they are usually very clunky and get in the way of the laser beam, limiting the work area of the material. A Vacuum table holds the object from underneath it, letting you work with all the whole surface.
You might be familiar with vacuum tables used for CNC milling, but those mostly use some kind of external vacuum source. I’ve seen some DIY vacuum tables for lasers that also use regular vacuum cleaner, but these are less than ideal. During cutting or engraving, the laser burns a portion of material creating a very foul smelling and nauseating (and sometimes toxic!) fumes. Lasers usually have exhaust and filtration systems to dispose of those pesky fume offenders. So, the main idea behind our vacuum table is that it is completely self contained. No external suction source is required. The vacuum is generated by several small but extremely powerful motors and fans built into the unit and powered by a dedicated DC power supply. Fumes stay inside laser machine, utilizing the existing fume extraction path.
Our vacuum table is made mostly with aluminum parts, especially in places where laser beam comes in contact with device. Most CO2 lasers do not burn metal (except for some specific high power machines) so nothing gets damaged.
Our current pre-production prototype can create over 2.2 lbs of holding force which is sufficient to flatten 1/8″ plywood if it was warped.
Work is still happening as we are finalizing the design. Please keep checking our website and Facebook page for more updates! We’ll announce when vacuum table will be available at our store.