Laser Cutter Build Night: Burnage!

It burns!  I finally received my Aixiz housing in the mail and assembled it.  I got mine from  I had also ordered some of their free 650nm (red light) laser safety stickers, but honestly, they were very low quality.  They appeared to have been made on a home laser printer running very low on toner and then cut out by an unskilled toddler.  Hey, I guess they were free.  I would have been severely disappointed if I had paid for them.

Anyhow, the laser stickers are a tangent.  Once I had opened the package, I placed (set; not pressed) the diode into the housing to dissapate heat and desoldered the ribbon cable from the leads.  Then, I pressfit the diode into the housing and soldered on some long power wires.  After that, I assembled the laser housing, double-checked everything, and turned the laser on!

Thankfully, the lens I got focuses the laser instead of collimating its beam.  That way, I can get a very fine point for blasting away at the materials I will be cutting/engraving!  I was able to change where the focal point of the laser was by twisting the lens.

In operation, the laser housing becomes only mildly warm.  This is good, because the hole I made in my heatsink is too spacious.  I do not know if I will be using an external heatsink in the long run.

I tried cutting some electrical tape with the laser, and it smoked, but was nowhere near what I expected its power to be.  Eventually, I was able to cut some tape that was under stress (very slowly).   I also tried lighting a match colored black, and the match smoked, but didn't light.  Very disappointing.  However, with the adjustable focus, I can make black plastic smoke at a fair range.  Fun, but I need a lot more power.  The laser barely scratched some black business card material.

In looking into the problem, I will be evaluating increased current, shortened power wires, and, as a last resort, a $10 glass lens (mine is acrylic) from