I want to add the laser to my CNC but

Hello folks.
I’ve only been using my 5x10 AVID CNC for about six months now. I’ve learned enough to be slightly dangerous with it.
Now I want to add the laser.
I know I’d like it, but I don’t see how I’m going to be able to mount a fume extractor in ADDITION to my dust collection. I know I would want both and obviously separate from each other. My current dust collection boot, which works great, would obviously have to be altered to make room for a laser and fume extractor.
Does anyone out there have both, a CNC dust collection and a Laser Fume extractor, in a permanent set-up on their gantry? If so, would you mind sharing some details about it?
I want to add the laser, but I’m not going to fill my shop (garage) with fumes. I also don’t want to have to swap a bunch of stuff out every time I switch from CNC to Laser work.
Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Gary

I use my laser a lot. I’ll sometimes engrave 100 bamboo boards in a run. I don’t use a fume extractor. I crack open the windows to get cross-ventillation and plan to not be in the shop much those days. The CNC is busy doing its thing.
BTW, I AM nuts about dust collection but it just doesn’t seem very practical to try and extract fumes in a similar way on a CNC with a spindle and Laser mounted.

You didn’t say too much about your current dust collector or shop environment. If you are in a garage and can open doors/windows it might be fine.

I have a dust collector that vents to the outside, and just having that on anywhere near the laser will remove most of the smoke. You don’t need a special “smoke boot” for the laser.

BTW, cutting generates a lot of smoke, but engraving not so much, so it also depends on what you are doing with the laser.

My dust collector is loud, so I prefer to open the doors and use a 30" wall fan to blow the air by the machine and out the door.

There are some ideas for you in this thread too. Vacuum honeycomb table for laser cutting

I use this 3D printed “shoe” for the laser and love it: Smoke Extraction Hood for 15W Laser System! (deploys with laser when activated)

I have a separate 4" hose for it with an inline fan that exhausts outside my shop with a dryver vent.

Thanks for the replies, guys. I’m a career firefighter and have already taken in way too much smoke and particulates into my lungs, so fume extraction will be a must. My shop/ garage is 2 cars wide and 3 cars deep which is roughly 1450 sq ft. 8’ ceilings.
I have two friends with lasers and have seen what it smells like and how much smoke they can produce if you don’t extract.

With all windows and doors open, there simply isn’t enough air flow. My dust collection is primarily 6", white drainage PVC. I designed my own dual 6" dust shoe which puts two six-inch hoses alongside my spindle, one per side. It collects dust quite nicely even though it has a descent run from the CNC to the dust collector, I’d say roughly 65’. Dust will build up in the PVC pipes on occasion and I have to clean them out through blast gate ports and with a leaf blower.
Because of this build-up, there is no way I would use the same exhaust system to also extract fumes, for this seems like a really good recipe for starting a fire in my pipes. Perhaps that is me just being too cautious but, no matter the responses, I won’t be using the same pipes for dust and fumes.
If someone out there has a shoe system that can accomplish both, and do so efficiently, that is what I’m looking for. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel if it’s already out there, but I will if necessary.
Thanks, Gary

Sounds like you have plenty big pipes, maybe too big for the blower size since you said you get a lot of dust buildup in your pipes. That usually means not enough velocity.

Anyway, you won’t have any embers going in with a dust shoe sucking at the top. The only real chance of that is if you are using a honeycomb cutting table with vacuum pulling from the bottom side of the cut. Even then, it would be hard to get a fire going if the settings are correct…but being the paranoid type for fire (and thats not a bad thing), you probably won’t want to do that :slight_smile:

Just another thought. What about adding a “y” at the start of the collector run at the cnc, not at the dust collector itself. Hook up a fume extractor from the spare leg on the y. If you have blast gates you could select either the dust collector or the fume extractor. You would only have the one much shorter run of hose for the fumes, and then no smoke or anything making its way to the dust collector.

I don’t either and I think that’s a good recommendation.

I use that shoe I showed in my previous post with a totally separate 4" hose and exhaust port on my garage.

I mostly engrave wood, and for that it works great.

Thanks for the additional replies. Most of the time when there is a dust build up in my pipes it’s because of my own actions. IE turning the system off before the dust had a chance to get all the way out, or not cleaning my Pre-filter often enough.

AeroJunkie, I was thinking about that Y setup as well, but I think if I were to keep my hose on the right-hand side of the spindle it would be in the way of the laser deploying.
Eric, I think I will end up doing exactly what you are referring to. That shoe, if I’m not mistaken, deploys with the laser, so there’s not a bunch of swap-out that has to take place. I wish I didn’t have to lose half my dust collection plumbing but I’m not seeing an alternative.
I also thought about rotating my second dust hose to the front of the spindle, but I feel like that would make tool and collet changes and tool alignment a pain.

If I figure anything out that allows for everything, I’ll post how I did it.

Thanks, Gary

That is correct, it goes with the laser.

I understand the point of fume extraction. I think it can be needed. Especially in your situation. I dont have a laser yet - but have done extensive research. You will want air assist at some point. That to me blows out any way to practically extract fumes in a dust collection manner. I would look at whole room filtering several times an hour. Then maybe wear a respirator.

…or what most EVERY dedicated laser system incorporates: an enclosure. I’m a bit gobsmacked that folks are just strapping a laser to the gantry without any plans for an enclosure. These aren’t original challenges, the consequences are predictable, and viable solutions to preserve health, equipment function, and to maximize performance well established.

This would mean for many Avid CNCers a 5x10 or 4x8 machine enclosure? The volume of extract required to keep the enclosure clear of smoke would probably exceed most shop extract systems. That’s why I assume many add a local extract deployed with the laser.

Our laser, and others that are similar all have air assist built in. It’s absolutely necessary to keep the dirt off of the lens. The amount of air that goes through isn’t that much in volume so it’s not blasting smells/smoke all over the place.

I think it really depends on what you’re cutting… I’m always careful to look up what materials I’m cutting ahead of time to make sure that the fumes aren’t harmful.

For me most of the time I am engraving/marking wood. Using either the downdraft table I made: Vacuum honeycomb table for laser cutting - #6 by jjneeb

Or the 3D printed shoe to pull the air away. Either method works really well.

When I’m marking metal I don’t need any extraction.

I don’t use the laser all day every day and I find these methods (and materials) more than sufficient.

If you’re doing material that is more harmful, or in more volume it might be worth looking into other methods of extraction.