Avid + OPT Laser or dedicated laser setup

I’ve been thinking about a laser CNC setup for a while now. There’ve been several episodes recently where the ability to laser out a few thin ply boxes and drawer inserts would have gone down well.

I’ve seen Jim’s YouTube work with OPT Lasers on the Avid.

They’re pricey little beasts, compared to the usual Chinese fare, and I wondered if the time and effort of setting one up is worth it, compared to buying a stand-alone diode laser like an Atomstack X20 or X30.

The pro’s that I can see for the Opt-on-Avid are bigger cutting area, and more Z height, so it would be a bit more versatile when it came to singeing larger items.

On the other hand, the atomstack-type would be up and running in an hour or so - I’m not sure how much fiddling and settling the OPT needs now that they have dedicated Avid kits, and have incorporated Jim’s work?

The 15W Opt module is huge, compared to the 20W modules in the cheap Chinese flavours. What makes the OPT so big, and does it result in a higher quality laser? And are the OPT mounts ‘universal’ - ie could you use the same mount for their 6W and 15W modules?

[I have a 4848 pro, big nema option, mach4, and do all my CNC work on Fusion360]

Any thoughts, experience and wisdom would be appreciated.

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Personally, I would wait. This market is moving way too fast.

Anything less than 40 watts is useless. Let’s just be honest about it. And it’s not just cutting but marking and engraving too. 40 watts is where the magic starts.

You have the 40 watt diodes arriving now and of course, my favorite, the Metal CO2 RF tubes falling in price.

The Metal CO2 are on Amazon now for reasonable money. They are less than 18 inches long and can be mounted directly where you would put the spindle on the Z axis. It is air cooled so no plumbing. They also do not crack from constant vibration.

For more info in the Metal CO2 you can watch this;

For the diodes you can find a bunch of videos on YouTube showing them off.

All of these are simple PWM 5v drive signals so if you know Arduino it’s a 5 minute job to get these to work with the AvidCNC controller ($5 max). The hardest part will be sourcing a solderable female socket to make it look nice.

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Thanks John. I’ll look at the RF devices. And happy to wait and see what happens…

The higher power diodes just seem to stack a bunch of 6W diodes and combine the output, so I suppose the sky would be the limit there - if they can shoehorn it into a reasonable size package.

Good questions.

The first question is what do you want to do with your laser? Engrave or cut, what kind of materials, how big/thick of material? Other questions are how much you think you’ll use it, do you want to use the same design package as your router work, so you have the desire/room for another machine in your shop?

Putting a laser on your AVID gives you a lot more X/Y working area than most dedicated laser machines you are going to buy (unless you are going to spend a lot for a dedicated laser machine). It also gives you a real Z axis (which cheap chinese laser systems don’t have), and a touch probe - these are both critical for getting good focus in a reasonable amount of time for each setup.
You also get to use the same machine you already have, and same software. You just need to install the laser head.
Obviously the downside is that you can’t use the laser and spindle at the same time. It will also not be as fast overall as a well build dedicated machine, but its not that much different because a diode laser (which is probably the only one that makes sense to put on an AVID) is not going to let you run super high speeds anyway.

So what can you do with a diode laser? The two things that matter are power density, and focal length. Current diode lasers have pretty short focal length lenses (30-50mm) compared to CO2 or other types. So the wattage is lower and the beam cone fans out pretty fast. With a good 15W diode laser, you can cut 3mm baltic birch in one pass at about 10ipm feedrate. You can cut really soft woods in a couple passes up to 1/4".
For etching, good diode lasers can have very small focus points, so the power density on the surface is very good, and the blue laser wavelength is asorbed well by some metals compared to CO2 lasers. So for example, an Opt XT-50 laser can ablate the surface of Steel, SS, and Titanium nicely. The 15W laser has a bigger spot size, so not quite enough power density to ablate, but it will melt it so it looks like a 0.006" weld bead. So they mark these metals very nicely. CO2 lasers can’t do this (unless you get a VERY high power one). For high quality pictures, diode lasers are very good because of the small dot size. The XT-50 will burn pixels that are 0.001" to 0.002", which can give you some amazing pictures on tile, slate, metal and organics.

If you want to cut a lot of organics (especially thicker than 0.125"), and working area <3" is ok, I would definitely look into a dedicated CO2 machine.

If you want to do a lot of metal etching, especially deep etching, then a fiber laser with a galvo head is much better.

Now for a good head vs. Chinese ones. The chinese ones typically don’t last too long, especially if you run them at 100% power. However, if you want to just start out cheap to see if its something that will be useful, you can get one and try it out, and then if you use it enough to burn it out, or you decide you want better beam quaility you can buy a better one. An Opt laser vs. a chinese laser head is like the spindle AVID sells vs. using a Harbor Freight Chicgo Electric router. They will both get the job done, but one isn’t going to last as long, or work quite as well. The Opt has machined aluminum housings, a warranty, very good optics, and will typically last a couple 10s of thousands of hours. You can send them back for repair as well. The chinese ones when burned out get thrown away (unless you have the skills to fix it yourself).


Thanks Jim

My initial laser thoughts were “I’d like to machine this enclosure out of loomininiminim, and wouldn’t it be cool if I could mark out the controls with a laser on the machine…” which then ended with the words “50W fiber laser”!

Beyond some thin ply cutting and marking, I’ve thought about a few projects that will need variable z-height on the laser, so I guess that makes the end goal clearer - I’ll need to mount something on the Avid for that.

As suggested I may get something cheap and Chinese just to learn and play., and not cry when it dies.

From your videos, I know you have or have had a couple of OPT’s laser modules - are the detachable mounts interchangebale? ie could you pop the high res 6W on for some detail work, and easily swap over to the 15W for some cutting?

Yup, aluminum requires fiber, and lots of power density. Aluminum doesn’t absorb much of anything above ultraviolet. Fiber lasers are usually around 1050nm which is infrared and absorbs even less than the blue laser. However, a fiber laser stores up energy and then pulses, so a 50W fiber laser can put out something >12kW pulses, which even with bad absorption efficiency can make aluminum. CO2 and blue diode at 50W won’t even slightly mark AL.

The detachable mounts I have are ones I designed and built. If want to build your own, send me an email and I’ll send you the files and parts list. jnwdwks@gmail.com. Opt also sells a smaller magnetic mount, but it won’t support the weight of the 15W laser, thats why I had to build my own. I switch between laser and spindle multiple times a day, and between lasers as well. I have 3 Opt’s, but the two I use the most are the XT-50 and the 15W. The 15W I use for cutting and marking where i have just logos or something and want them to be more easily visible or I’m filling in a larger area (i.e. crosshatching). I use the XT-50 for pictures, really delicate cuts, and when I want to ablate the surface of metal. I also have an XT-10, but I mostly bought that to play with. Its only half watt, and the beam is so small that you can’t really see a single mark (but I can write letters 0.010" high, if that is any use to you :-)).

I don’t have any experience with the latest generation of chinese stuff, the first blue laser I got was only a couple watts and a couple hundred bucks for the whole thing including the cnc chassis. There are now Xtool and others selling 4 to 6 diode heads (which will be 20-30W optical output best case). They don’t have great optics, but they would get you started. The problem is, they aren’t all that cheap either. They are $1000+. I don’t think I could spend that much for a chinese head w/o knowing if its going to last.

If I were going to spend that much, then I’d just get an Opt XT-50 which is around $1k (they have sales a couple times a year where they knock off $100 or more) for the whole installation kit for whichever machine you have. It will cut 1/8" plywood in one pass (yes, at a pretty slow rate), and mark SS, steal, and titanium nicely, any organics and stone, and is just about the best laser out there right now for doing detailed pictures.

If you want to just try marking/engraving to get a taste of it w/o breaking the bank, then anything like this is a good way to start https://smile.amazon.com/LASER-TREE-Assistance-Fixed-Focus-12V/dp/B0BJQ2224V/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?crid=2O8VLUMC556V3&keywords=80w%2Blaser%2Bmodule%2B450nm%2Bblue%2Blaser%2Bhead&qid=1675046345&sprefix=blue%2Blaser%2Bhead%2Caps%2C171&sr=8-2-spons&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExSUNCTkUwOU5DTFFXJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNTI2MTI3MlBYRTJWQVVBNlk5WSZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwNjUwOTc3QTAwWjkwVjk1NjhIJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ&th=1

You will either discover lasering is not for you and you’re not out much, or it is and then you can figure out what you want next. They are all PWM controlled and if you have the stock AVID ESS board it supports lasers nicely and has built in raster capability.

Sorry if I sound like an Opt salesman, but unfortunately the blue laser market (and I think CO2 probably too) doesn’t have much of a gradient. Its a whole bunch of cheap stuff from China, and then Opt at the top. Either end comes with a price so to speak. There is Jtek and Endurance somewhere in the middle, but I don’t know much about them so I can’t give any input on them.


Thanks for the comprehensive reply, Jim. email on the way

After watching DIY 1000W Fiber Laser Cutter Part 1: Project Introduction - YouTube, it seems that a Fiber laser is not far off being an option for our machines, provided you have the $ and the power. I know the yanks manage to survive on a puny 110V most of the time :wink:

My question is, would the standard Avid setup with Mach4 and Warp9 be able to drive the Fiber laser directly, or would we need some extra hardware (I’m coming to this from a position of extreme ignorance!) in between? The system Travis is using is a whole CNC/Laser controller - so all the steppers etc, which we wouldn’t need.

From the vid, the basic setup would be:
A raycus rfl-c1000 fibre laser
A suitable raytools laser head
A S&A CWFL-1000 Industrial Water Chiller
And a decent air/nitrogen/oxygen setup

or equivalents of the above. About an $8000 add-on for a pretty serious laser machine.

I don’t think so. I finally found the datasheet for that laser (most sites wanted my email address first to download :frowning: ). Its not a simple PWM signal, theres RS232 or ethernet for computer to power controller comunication for configuration, and then some analong signals for gating, etc.

Anything that just needs a PWM signal to run it would be relatively easy, but this woudl take more work, probably a seperate controller (similar to the warprunner for the plasma head).

However, it would be a cool option kit for the AVID.


Before I bought the laser I looked around and the only other option to me was jtech.
The OTP laser is nicely built. So I got the 15Watt and the thing just works!
People might say that it is expensive, however expensive is when you buy a tool twice.

The best part is no one around here has a laser on a 5x10 table.
One of the first thing people ask is how big can you cut or engrave.

My next idea if possible is to have 2 OPT laser on the same table to double the output or invest in a dedicated Co2 laser cutter.

The fiber laser is on my wish list …sometimes I need to cut metal with a finer detail than plasma.

I would like to thank Jim Neeb…because if it wasn’t for his videos and laser setup file…I would not have this thing running.

I wish I bought this machine years ago.


小体积1000W-2000W通信协议.pdf (120.5 KB)

I sent an email to Raycus - not really expecting much, from past experience…

I explained the AvidCNC setup, and the basic PWM that Warp9 now does, and asked if they could recommend an add-on/breakout board - aome sort of laser controller that didn’t also do the motion control bit.

This is all I got in response:

PWM means there is MOD signal channel. You need to set power first.
I attached our Communication Protocol of RFL-C1000.
Hope this file can help.

So not a lot of help.

Bottom line is it would take a bit of work and a lot of smarts I guess.

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This might need to be a thread of its own, …

I wonder if there are enough people interested in this to make it worth a small group project. There are tons of dirt-cheap arm processors with credit card sized development boards and free SW packages out there, that could easily be mounted inside the AVIDcnc plug and play electronics box. Configuring 20~30 pre-set commands to send out various serial messages when trigged by some of the spare outputs on the ESS seems pretty trivial.

Maybe I’m missing something in the complexity there, but it seems like something that could be knocked out right quick for way under $50 including shipping from digikey, kind of thing.

I guess, the risk there is someone has to be the first person up against the wall to plop down the big $$$ buy the fiber laser and figure out if it’s actually going to work. I’ve had Raycus fiber lasers on my eBay watch list ever since about 6mo after I bought the AVIDcnc but still haven’t pulled the trigger and committed to it.


I guess worst case scenario is it doesn’t work, and you end up building a separate machine using a ruida control unit that does the laser and motion control. So never a total loss - just need space for another CNC!

I recently added a 6W Opt laser to my PRO4848. I think the 15W version is designed to replace the spindle. I machined a simple bracket to mount the 6W adjacent to the spindle. Still working through the laser material settings but I think I have the post-processor worked out. I am also using UCCNC with an added CNCdrive UC300ETH motion controller. Happy with the laser so far. Size will ultimately depend on what materials you expect to engrave/cut.

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That looks great. What are you intending to make with it it? Also, did you order it from them direct (international?) or did you find a distributor located here stateside?

I plan to engrave and cut mostly wood, but I’m sure I’ll try different materials as well.

I ordered direct from Opt. Shipping was quick. The biggest issue was FedEx custom clearance. It was held because of the radiation-emitting designation. That added probably a week. Mostly because the FedEx rep was not very responsive. If you go with Opt, I recommend the dock. I ordered the AvidCNC upgrade kit. They had a special that included the air-assist kit free at that time.

Good luck.

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I found this thread and I’m on the same journey. Id mainly like a laser for cutting acrylic and engraving wood but it would be nice to Do some metal. I hear that engraving Aluminum is out of reach for a 6W xt-50 from OPT lasers. Is that correct? would a painted or anodized surface improve Aluminum engraving? is it a simple “wont do it”?

Direct marking of aluminum is out for anything below 100W (ya, I know fiber can do that, but that is in pulsed mode which is way higher than 100W pulses). Aluminum is 95% or more reflective until the wavelength gets down close to ulraviolet.

However, anything on top of aluminum (paint, anodization, etc.) will burn off easily with the XT-50. Some people do multiple layers of pain and can burn to to specific layers to make multicolored images as well.

The XT-50 will ablate Stainless Steel, Steel, and Titanium very nicely, by a few thousandths of an inch. So it won’t cut it, but it will make a permanant trench.

Acrylic is tough for any blue laser because it is visible light. If you can see through it, you cannot cut it. The very dark colored opaque plastics will cut, but I have found a lot of them that you can’t see through will still scatter the light too much instead of absorbing it so they don’t cut well. I have cut black plastics like ABS very nicely. 1/8" is about as thick as you’ll cut with that laser.

You can make acrylic signs though. Just as with class, you can coat the surface with something dark that will absorb the light, and mark the clear substrate, then remove the coloring later.

If you really want to do serious cutting of Acrylic or anything clear, CO2 is the way to go. That runs at deep infrared and not much is transparent at 10.6um wavelength.

Looking at what you did, it looks like you machine a piece of aluminum that has the bolt hole pattern for the OPT magnetic mount on one side, and a couple holes to fit the slot on the spindle mount. Is that correct?