Laser cutter speed difference
Here is the video of my two laser cutters cutting the same tile side by side. It prompted a few people to ask 'how come the 30W tube is much faster than the 100W tube?'
I picked the new laser cutter based upon speed. It had a few specification stats that suggested it was fast and the photos showed a fairly lightweight head etc. Now that I have the laser in my possession I can see all the design decisions that make it fast. In the case of these Carcassonne tiles I only need the full power of the laser when I'm cutting the tiles out.
The low power engraving lines are done with minimal power, only 8% of the 30W tube. The metal RF tube gives me much more control over the low end power, the head can fly around at 100mm/s, twice the speed of the larger machine. The engraving can be done at 1000mm/s, again nearly twice the speed and empirical evidence suggests that it is actually moving at that speed.
The 30W laser can easily handle the 3mm poplar ply wood at a sensible 35mm/s, the 100W machine can do it at >50mm/s. I have to use the > symbol because at 50mm/s the laser head is moving at it's maximum speed, the laser power is only set to 50W. If the laser head tries to move any faster it will occasionally skips steps while moving and if the cuts are misaligned to the engraving the whole tile is ruined.
All of these tweaks make the whole thing a lot faster. The other minor thing I've been asked about is why I cut the grass blades before engraving the grass area. The laser beam is focused to the surface of the material, when I cut on the engraved areas the laser beam is slightly out of focus. Doing it this way round keeps everything nice and crisp. A secondary advantage is that the engraving takes away all the smoke marks made by the low power cut.