Jeri Ellsworth made this quick and dirty gas containment chamber for her laser cutter — to be able to test the gases generated from the lasing of various materials — using a silicon wafer (which the beam passes through) and a cookie tin. This rig can also be used to contain materials that might otherwise damage the laser’s optics during the etching/cutting process. Nice job on the video, Jer!

Laser Cutter Gas Containment Chamber – Don’t Damage that Laser

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy person’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

  • Simon

    I wonder how transparent the silicon wafer is to IR from the laser? Years ago at university I tried making a CO2 laser using some plans in Scientific American. Just as a hobby, not part of my courses. The technicians in the accelerator lab used to help me with my projects after they got to know me as a school kid when I kept turning up there to get liquid nitrogen for superconductor experiments (but that’s an incoherent ramble for another time). The laser I built by scrounging parts, favours and improvising – a lot! I got, from the chemistry lab glass blowers, a length of glass tube to be the discharge tube. I used brass bellows from old thermostats and brass plates to make up my own adjustable mirror cells. The technicians gave me an old vacuum pump to use with no motor so I got an old dryer or washing machine motor to drive that. And of course a neon sign transformer for the power supply. I had a lens made for the reflecting mirror and had that gold sputter coated and had a flat polished copper block for the output mirror. It had a 3mm or so diameter hole for the beam to pass though. One of the problems was what do you seal that hole with as of course the discharge tube needs to be gas tight but the window needs to let IR through. I ended up using a polished salt crystal! It was from some machine in the chemistry lab that used a large salt crystal window. These seemed to get broken a lot so I was able to get the broken pieces to use. I wonder if broken pieces of silicon wafer could be used instead? Be a hell of a lot more stable that salt! I only ever got that thing to work once but I spent many happy hours there tinkering on it literally in a corner behind the particle accelerator in that old lab! Jeri’s cool random experiments always make me think of the odd things I used to do.