Posts Tagged ‘budget’



December 28, 2011

For those of you that have been following along, you will remember that the X rail for my old ULS-M25 is badly warped from the fire. To replace it with an official part from ULS will cost me $365 + taxes [or about $13.50/inch for the 27 inch extrusion]. Needless to say, this is a unpalatable price for an aluminum extrusion. So I’ve been trying to come up with possible replacement solutions that are more cost effective. The first step was to create a CAD model for the existing part to serve as a reference. While my model isn’t exact, as it is based on measurements of the damaged part, it should be close enough to serve its purpose.

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Second Sourcing: Belts

December 6, 2011

So now that I have my quote in from the ULS rep for my list of parts, I thought I’d go through the list and see how much of it I can second source from other suppliers outside of the ULS umbrella. So for starters I decided to go with what is most-likely the easiest part to find elsewhere… the timing belts. Now I don’t know much about timing belts, but figured they were an off the shelf component. So after doing a little research online, I discovered that the pitch/profile for the belt is known as MXL (Miniature Extra Light). I wasn’t sure on the material of the belt, but I did come across a spec that stated it was kevlar re-enforced. After searching he usual retail suspects [McMaster Carr & SDP/SI as well as few others] it became apparent that the material must be urethane. So armed with that information, as well as the length  and width specifications for the replacement belts, I came up with some pricing:

The base spec for all the belts is: MXL (0.080) pitch timing belt x 1/4in wide, urethane belt with kevlar re-enforcing members. All are closed loop belts, for open they will be cut. (McMaster & SDP-SI don’t have kevlar re-enforced belts that are open)

Short Z belt: [meas: 105 teeth closed] (there is some flex in the length due to the adjustment mechanism, s0 103-108 should all be ok)
Primary: 105MXL, 105 teeth [8.4in] SDP/SI – A 6B16-105025 [3.52]
Alternate: 103MXL, 103 teeth [8.2in] McMaster – 1679K93 [2.55]

X Belt: [spec: 5.25ft / 63; meas: ~60in – open]
Primary: 962MXL,  [77in] McMaster – 1679K686 [9.61]
Alternate: 1500MXL,  [120in] SDP/SI – A 6B16-15C025 [21.33]

Y Belt: x2 [Spec 3.25ft / 39in; meas: ~37in – open]
Primary: 482MXL,  [38.5in] SDP/SI – A 6B16-482025 [5.54]
Alternate: 482MXL,  [38.5in]  McMaster – 1679K683 [5.84]

Now I could probably do even better here, but for 1 off, there is no real need to. At $24.21 for all the belts, I’m roughly 1/6th the quoted cost of $140! That’s $120 savings right there… if I can keep this up, I just might be able to swallow the outrageous price of the extrusion.

[yes I know the prices above are US dollars, and the quote was in Canadian, but given the value of the dollar right now, I consider them to be pretty much equal]


The price of admission

November 26, 2011

So I finally got my quote back for all the ULS parts this week. It came in quite a bit higher than I anticipated. While most of the items are tolerable, some aren’t. [all prices are Canadian, and don’t include the 13% tax I need to pay as well]

Optics: $460

This is where I expected to spend the most. So I’m okay with $460 for replacing everything in the optical path.

Timing Belts: $140

A bit pricey, but they are kevlar re-enforced timing belts, so I’ll let it slide.

Idlers: $90

Ok, these are a bit rich, I’ll need to see if I can find an alternative source. But in the grand scheme of things, just a drop in the bucket, so if I must, I can live with it.

Bearings: $200

Ouch! Not much I can do here, unless I can find them cheaper from another supplier. or machine my own alternatives. There are some custom components involved, so perhaps justifiable.

Lens/Focus carriage: $400

Thank the gods I was able to salvage this! Chalk Fridays efforts up in the WIN column for a second time 🙂

Engraving table: $500

This was an unexpected price, given that the engraving table is rather uninteresting. I will have to see if I can salvage the old one, by removing the top aluminum sheet, and replacing it. [probably next Fridays efforts/post]

X Rail: $370

WTF!!! This is an insane price. The X Rail is simply an anodized, light weight aluminum extrusion that is 27 inches long. Unless I can find some serious savings elsewhere in this project, it’s pretty much a given I’m going to have to engineer my own alternative solution. Sadly this one part is also a major hinge-pin for the entire project.


All-in-all the grand total came to ~$2,150 plus taxes to replace the optical & mechanical parts. Let’s not forget there’s still the control panel, and motors at a minimum that need to be replaced as well. Now thankfully I have salvaged the lens/focus carriage, and I’m hoping to salvage the cutting table, so that will bring it down to ~$1,250 + taxes, still up there, but much more manageable, and in the ball-park of what I was expecting.

Unfortunately life has thrown a couple of financial curve balls at me the past few weeks, so I’m going to have to re-visit my budget, and probably spread the costs out over a greater period than initially anticipated. My initial time line was to have all these bits in place by January, but now it will need to be quite a bit later than that, unless a money tree sprouts up in my back yard.

I wonder if I can start a charity to save a sick and dying laser? 😉