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  1. #1
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    May 2007
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    questions re water system for CO2 laser

    I just returned home after being gone for over a month and was going to fire up the laser when I noticed the water appeared cloudy. This is an HX3040 laser with a very simple system of distilled water in a container pumped through with an aquarium pump. It has worked well. When I checked the water I saw that ants had gotten into it (a problem here in Hawaii) and the water was not only cloudy but slimy and starting to turn green. I cleaned out everything completely including the pump but I would really like to set up a closed system to cool the tube.

    My household water system is rainwater that has been double filtered and passed through an ultraviolet light. It is supposed to be cleaner than bottled water (but I am not sure about distilled water.) I bought distilled water for the system but would really like to hook this up to my household water, run it through some kind of cooling system and then through the laser tube.

    If anyone has done something like this or has ideas I would love to hear them. I am not terribly knowledgeable about stuff like this but can follow directions. It is important that I can keep ants out as they have been able to get into closed containers in the past (they are very tiny!)

    If someone else has used water other than distilled water without causing problems I would also like to hear from you as well. Thanks.

    Jacqui, Goddess of Chaos, GSOLFOT

  2. #2
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    Hi Jaqui, good to know you are again with your toy...!
    I use common water, and have no problems, I change it once a week.
    Luis

  3. #3
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    Thanks Luis. It was really stressed that distilled water was important because other stuff has impurities, but my purified water can't be worse than what I had going in my water system! I had planned to work on some drawings while I was away and of course I didn't so now I have nothing new to engrave but there is one I can rework (not happy with parts of it) and then I hope to do a prototype for a gallery to see if it will be saleable!

    What are you doing for cooling? Right now I am just putting blocks of gel ice (blue ice) into the water container but eventually I should fix up a better system if it can be done inexpensively.

    Jacqui, Goddess of Chaos, GSOLFOT

  4. #4
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    Hi Jaqui, I have the original chiller they sent with the machine, is the 3000 series, very good pressure, you should get one, The best for operation ofthe laser is to keep it cool, in your case you don't know the temp. this system shows it to you, also has a beep sound when it gets out of water, it is very safe. Yoy will not need ice again!!!! And with your hot weather... I'm in the Andes Mountains almost 9.000 feet... fresh air, do not need to much cooling.

    Sorry for the word file , I didn' t find how to paste direct to JPG file
    Attached Files Attached Files

  5. #5
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    Chiller

    I also have a 3000 series chiller but left water in it for a few weeks and it rusted pretty badly inside and the water turned kinda rusty.

    I also have the pond pump system that came with the laser and after using both, I much prefer the 5gal bucket and cold water and the pond pump. I cut alot at 100% power (80w) and the chiller gets hot, sometimes over 40C. But with my bucker of water, I can remove hot and add cold water at will or drop in a bag of ice with almost no effort. And what could be easier to empty than a bucket of water? I know its not sexy like the water chiller but it works very well and is easy to clean and use.

    Thanks
    Mike Purcell
    www.classicplayfields.com

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the advice re keeping the bucket system. I have a friend here who is pretty knowledgable about building something like a wort chiller but he too thought that just be closing the system a bit better (too keep out ants and other varmints) it should work okay. This is right now just a small (3040) laser and I am not running it all day as a business so for my purpose it doesn't make sense to spend a lot of time and money to keep the water cold. I just circulate the gel ice.

    lamicron - I don't really have much of a hot weather problem here - more wet than hot! Doesn't get very cold either but water in the container does heat up a bit if I don't chill it.

    More important right now if I want to cut acrylic is to vent it better. I saw a pretty neat set up today and if I can get the parts cheap enough I may do something like it. This was a venting system for a wax burn out oven and he made a kind of venturi set up inside the vent with a second fan blowing across it to draw (kind of like a water siphon only for air). Not one bit of smoke comes into the room so that could be perfect for toxic fumes from the laser.

    Jacqui, Goddess of Chaos, GSOLFOT

  7. #7
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    Chiller

    Hey Guys;

    The chiller I find is a pain as it MUST be changed regularly, very regularly or you will have problems. My first use of mine I used tap water and within a week or so noticed it kind of turning color. A few days later it was filthy, I got called out to work so just didn't have time to clean it when I first thought I noticed it. However, when I got back the water was greenish reddish brown (algae I now believe) . I thought it was iron from my water supply settling out but before I took drastic measures with CLR which I thought might damage something, I inserted 2-3cups if bleach into the system, ran the chiller for an hour or so and left it overnight. After several rinsings the tube and the lines were perfectly clear once again. The water had definately gone bad, like a hot tub does without chlorine. I switched to distilled water and a week later the water all turned red, this time definately from rust. I emptied out the chiller and lots of rust particles came out the bottom drain, maybe a teaspoon full or more. I can't imagine iron oxide would be a good thing to have in a laser tube and in fact won't use it again until I install a filter on the output line.

    After this and the worries of getting rust stuck in the tube if it got carried it, I switched to the bucket and normal tap water. I fill the bucket, use my laser, if it gets warm, I simply scoop out half and fill it with cold water, too easy. When I am done I take one line out stick a small compressor onto the line and blow all the water out of the tube back into the bucket and within 3 minutes of shutting it down I have a fully empty laser tube and lines with no water near it and if I don't get back to it for a month I have no worries at all. Peace of mind is priceless.

    Still that chiller with the digital readout sure is cool looking, just not worth the very large amount of extra work I have to do to keep it running versus the simple old pond pump.


    Thanks
    Mike Purcell
    www.classicplayfields.com

  8. #8
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    Sealed cooling

    Not to dig up an old thread, but I've been using a homemade idea for a little, and it keeps debris and insects out of cooling water.
    I use 2 five gallon buckets. One has the distilled water, about 4 gallons, and a little RV antifreeze (for color mainly). The pump is in bottom pumping the water to the tube, and returning to same. Lid is on top, with only small holes to accomodate the output tubes.
    I have 40 feet of 3/8 inch copper tubing coiled around the inside of the bucket with an input and output coming out top of the bucket lid also.
    The second bucket, I use a small pond filter pump, does about a gallon minute flow, running to the copper tubes and returning.
    I place 2-3 frozen 2liter bottles in the bucket when getting ready to use the laser, wait about 5-10 minutes, and presto, the temp gets around 60degrees F in the laser cooling water.
    I have a cooking probe thermometer in a clear 1/2 inch tube inline with the copper coils, sealed with caulk, telling me the temp of the water running through the coil.
    I use an aquarium thermometer in the main water bucket, to let me know what the output water is. (works great, got em off ebay...cheap.)
    The temp rarely varies more than 5 degrees (F). Unless a large wood cut, then it may go up 8 degrees or so. Either way, the main cooling water is basically sealed from foreign objects, and the cooling water is easily accessible with a new frozen bottle after about 30 mins or so. I keep alot of frozen bottles in freezer.
    Up til now seems to be working fine.
    If anyone sees a problem with this idea, please let me know. I'm still new to the whole laser machine, so I welcome any ideas.
    I just didn't have the funds to purchase a nice (5000model) chiller.
    But hey, as long as the temp is below recommended limit, I guess I'm good.
    BTW, i change the main bucket out every 2 weeks or so, costs less than 4$. Don't use tap water, my tap water is pretty hard.
    60watt 24x36

  9. #9
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    Clayne;

    Thanks for digging up this old thread because it allows me afters several years of using the system to comment, this time with maybe knowing what I am talking about :-)

    I bought a chiller as well, the 3000 model. Don't want to call it junk but I find mine only moves the coolant a few degrees towards room temperature as the 3000 is only a heat exchanger. If you had a nice cold room it would work better.

    I used your bucket setup for a long time and amazing used almost the exact same system. I found that the ice in the bottle just didn't last long enough as when I am cutting I cut for 8-10 hrs a day. I eventually used bags of ice and just bucketed out enough room in the warm water before topping it off with ice. Of course I couldn't keep up with the ice making so wound up using cold water which worked almost as well but had to be changed a bit sooner.

    In the end I just grabbed an small aluminum car or radiator or maybe it was a large oil cooler at a flea market. I mounted a large electric fan (about 18" away and with a fan diameter about the same) from some industrial surplus place and just mounted this outside with and ran the tubing out to it. This is very effective whenever the outside temperature has a good difference versus the temperature you want. IF its too warm outside I found a small plant watering nozzle for the end of a garden hose and it sprays a very fine mist onto the rad. The warm air hitting it vaporizes it and the heat of evaporation drives the temperature down much farther than you'd ever think possible.

    As an aside, Never add bleach to anything as the ends of the laser tube are made of aluminum and the bleach corrodes it very fast, even within a few days it can be ruined. But guess what, automotive antifreeze works great. Nothing lives in it and it stays good literally for years. The system I have now and described above is a closed system so dirt or leaves etc don't get into the system and it's basically maintenance free. I just watch the temp, if it gets too warn I just turn on the hose a bit and the temp drops like a rock. You can actually tune the system do that it sprays just enough to cool and barely a drop ever touches the ground. :-)

    Mike
    www.classicplayfields.com

  10. #10
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    radiator idea

    Thanks for the radiator idea. My "Warm" season, put lightly is coming, and I forsee that as a problem. My room isn't air conditioned for the summer YET, and that is a good idea. Can you send me a pic of the outside radiator idea? I have a water hookup right outside the door, might be very feasible. I don't run long runs like that yet, but it's coming I'm sure. My email is clrobeson72@gmail.com if you get a chance. I'd love to see some ideas. thanks again.
    60watt 24x36

  11. #11
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    radiator idea

    Correct me if I'm wrong. If I run a small transmission cooler from the copper tubes , outside of course, with a fan, possibly some 8 inch computer fans, 12v (I have 2 laying around), my theory is the water would be chilled coming from the icy bucket, exit with the warmed water outside and again be disispated through the trans cooler, then run back into the retaining bucket with the ice, hence having "cooler" water , slowing the melt rate on the ice. And with a manually controled valve inside, turning on the water hose directed at the trans cooler when the temps do raise?
    I've got some 90-100 deg weather here sometimes. Even hot water will disipate on the fins in this situation I would assume.
    I've gone so far as to draw plans for a "cold box". An insulated "doghouse" type structure with a small window AC unit in it, possibly with the trans cooler at the output. Hard to explain in words though.
    Whats your take on that? Just wondering. My knowledge of thermodynamics isn't as good as it was in college years.
    With the "cooling box" method, I could probably eliminate the whole ice bucket idea.
    I don't like the idea of running the actual laser water through the copper tubes because that seemed to slow the flow rate before, causing my flow sensor to fail. But with larger diameter tubes, say 1/2 inch instead of 3/8, and maybe a stronger pump, that may be feasible. But the input nozzle on the machine will still be sized smaller, still allowing only so much flow to go through.
    Is 1 gallon a minute flowrate sufficient with these tubes?
    Thanks again. Sorry to bother anyone. I'm just throwing out ideas.
    60watt 24x36

  12. #12
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    Hi there
    it looks like you are in the hot cliam of the US I am in southwest florida and had the same issue.
    but my workshop needs some cooling too I bought a used window A/C unit and installed it behind the place where the laser stands. then I added a 1/4 inch copper oval ( just hand made see picture) and put it inside the top outlet connected the 1/4 hose to the tube outlet ( it actually was allready there from the manufacturer) and let thewater run in to a 2 gallon plastic bucket with destilled water and just a hint of car antyfrize the green one .
    in the bucket I have this " little giant waterpump" and have this connected to the tube inlet.
    now I turn on the A/C unit when I turn on the laser ( is a 40W cCO2) and let the A/C unit run depending on the temperatur this cooles me and the laser and also the little airbrush compressor for air assistence.
    it works perfect is small did not cost to much about $ 150 with the pump.
    it looks abit temporray but thats ok till I can afford a bigger shop.
    greetings
    walt




    Quote Originally Posted by clayne View Post
    Correct me if I'm wrong. If I run a small transmission cooler from the copper tubes , outside of course, with a fan, possibly some 8 inch computer fans, 12v (I have 2 laying around), my theory is the water would be chilled coming from the icy bucket, exit with the warmed water outside and again be disispated through the trans cooler, then run back into the retaining bucket with the ice, hence having "cooler" water , slowing the melt rate on the ice. And with a manually controled valve inside, turning on the water hose directed at the trans cooler when the temps do raise?
    I've got some 90-100 deg weather here sometimes. Even hot water will disipate on the fins in this situation I would assume.
    I've gone so far as to draw plans for a "cold box". An insulated "doghouse" type structure with a small window AC unit in it, possibly with the trans cooler at the output. Hard to explain in words though.
    Whats your take on that? Just wondering. My knowledge of thermodynamics isn't as good as it was in college years.
    With the "cooling box" method, I could probably eliminate the whole ice bucket idea.
    I don't like the idea of running the actual laser water through the copper tubes because that seemed to slow the flow rate before, causing my flow sensor to fail. But with larger diameter tubes, say 1/2 inch instead of 3/8, and maybe a stronger pump, that may be feasible. But the input nozzle on the machine will still be sized smaller, still allowing only so much flow to go through.
    Is 1 gallon a minute flowrate sufficient with these tubes?
    Thanks again. Sorry to bother anyone. I'm just throwing out ideas.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails ACcoling.JPG   airassist2.JPG  

  13. #13
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    Air Conditioner

    Thanks for the pick. I like the air pump. Definately getting a bigger one soon. Pretty smooth idea putting the "coils" in the output of the AC. Do you have a problem with condensation or MAJOR temp fluxes? Thats what worries me. Theres way of practically freezing the water per say, but I don't want to run a tube cool then it get 10 degrees hotter on a long run shortly, and burst anything. I'm sure my knowledge of hot and cold glass is same, these kids are learning science, but how much can really change to sell a textbook?...
    I'm going to do that today probably with a small window unit. Can't hurt I guess. Does the flowrate on the air compressor have any major drawbacks, ex. being too high? I know it needs to be "water" free of course. The nice strong little chinese dodad that came with machine has worked great, but it gets hotter than a 3$ rolex in 10 minutes. Been kicking those. Kudos to them for that.
    One question I've pondered and haven't found a definate answer is the flowrate on the water pump. I found a nice pond filter pump at local pet shop, with 5 gal min capacity. Too much flow? Just wondering. I'll post my water setup today hopefully, want to clean up around it first... Ha. Gets messy when I get the 1000 yard "laser" stare...:bat:
    Thanks again for the response too. I really enjoy being able to talk "Laser" to people who know what I'm talking about. I'm like the local "frankenstein" in these parts with my "toys".
    60watt 24x36

  14. #14
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    Hi clayne,
    no problemeo with condensation or freezing ones in a while I check the temperatur with the finger and if I fell its a bit warm I just turn the A/C a notch up or down no this tubes ar special glass anyway dont worry about bursting the cooling temperature should be between 68 and 76 degree F for best results. a submersible pump with a flow rate of at least 1 gallon/min is good enough, just make sure that the whole pump including the connection sta=ys under water to prevent from airbubbles sniking in air bubbles is one of the most dangerous parts for the laser tube to be damaged.
    dont worry about flow rate of the air asisst compressor in order to have a good blow out you need quite a bit of flow.
    just make sure that your water is destilled water with a hint of antyfrice for cars in it just enough that the water is not realy colloured.
    greetings
    walt



    Quote Originally Posted by clayne View Post
    Thanks for the pick. I like the air pump. Definately getting a bigger one soon. Pretty smooth idea putting the "coils" in the output of the AC. Do you have a problem with condensation or MAJOR temp fluxes? Thats what worries me. Theres way of practically freezing the water per say, but I don't want to run a tube cool then it get 10 degrees hotter on a long run shortly, and burst anything. I'm sure my knowledge of hot and cold glass is same, these kids are learning science, but how much can really change to sell a textbook?...
    I'm going to do that today probably with a small window unit. Can't hurt I guess. Does the flowrate on the air compressor have any major drawbacks, ex. being too high? I know it needs to be "water" free of course. The nice strong little chinese dodad that came with machine has worked great, but it gets hotter than a 3$ rolex in 10 minutes. Been kicking those. Kudos to them for that.
    One question I've pondered and haven't found a definate answer is the flowrate on the water pump. I found a nice pond filter pump at local pet shop, with 5 gal min capacity. Too much flow? Just wondering. I'll post my water setup today hopefully, want to clean up around it first... Ha. Gets messy when I get the 1000 yard "laser" stare...:bat:
    Thanks again for the response too. I really enjoy being able to talk "Laser" to people who know what I'm talking about. I'm like the local "frankenstein" in these parts with my "toys".

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