Difference between revisions of "Category:Laser Cutter"

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(Setting cutting speed & power: corner power note added)
(moved FAQ from Bumblebee page and added Q/A from email thread)
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== Other References ==  
 
== Other References ==  
 
http://boxmaker.rahulbotics.com/ makes wonderful box patterns that you can put into the laser cutter.
 
http://boxmaker.rahulbotics.com/ makes wonderful box patterns that you can put into the laser cutter.
 +
 +
 +
== FAQ ==
 +
A list of commonly asked questions
 +
 +
; If I have a jpeg file, how do I etch it on a piece of acryllic?
 +
:The easiest way is to import the jpeg file into the LaserCut software, then put it on an engrave layer.
 +
 +
;If I set speed on LaserCut, what does the SPEED % mean on the display of the Laser Cutter?
 +
:The speed on the Laser cutter screen is irrelevant. When uploading files manually (Without the LaserCut software) this is where you change your speed/power. However, LaserCut handles all of this for you, and the cutter will follow your settings from the program, regardless of what they are set for on the cutter itself.
 +
 +
;I have a jpeg of a line drawing.  How can I cut a piece of acryllic using that line drawing?
 +
:It is recommended that you upload the image into a vector art program (ie: Illustrator, Inkscape) and trace the into tool paths. If you try to cut the jpeg directly, the cutter will also try to cut the artifacts in the image and not only extend your cut time, but also create the potential of ruining your image.
 +
 +
;Do I need training to use the Laser Cutter?  If so, how do I get it?
 +
:Yes, use of the laser cutters must requires you to be a member and either training, or the supervision of a trained operator. If you would like to be trained, or need assistance, you may either contact the zone wardens, or one of the trained operators listed (both on the wiki and in the zone) and a time can be set up.
 +
 +
;Why do we have 2 Laser Cutters?
 +
:When the lasers were originally purchased, we received a huge discount by ordering multiple. (Three were actually ordered. The third is located with our friends, Sector67.) After the funds were raised for the actual purchase (via a kick-starter), one of our members contributed the funds necessary to purchase all three units. As a result, Bumblebee is owned by the space, [[Laser Engraver - Wolverine|Wolverine]] is owned by Roger S., and the third was purchased/is owned by Sector67 in Madison, Wisconsin.
 +
 +
;LaserCut is demanding that the dongle be re-installed, even though the dongle is plugged into the normal laser cutter laptop! How can I fix it?
 +
: Make sure the USB hub with the dongle is plugged into the side port, not the back port, of the laptop. Windows XP is apparently picky about which USB port drivers are installed to.

Revision as of 10:32, 13 June 2014

Laser Cutter Zone

Contents

Welcome

Welcome to the Laser zone! The zone contains 2 almost identical laser cutters, each with a 4'x3' bed. They are located on the west wall of the shop, you can't miss them!

Equipment

Choosing Materials

The laser cutter can cut or etch a wide variety of materials. However some are not possible to cut with our current set-up, and other materials are dangerous - they release fumes that damage humans or the laser cutter itself. There are some materials that cannot be cut, only etched.

You are responsible for knowing exactly what your material is before you try to cut it. DO NOT cut any of the banned materials. You are liable for expensive damage to the machine or worse - you may release toxic fumes that could easily harm or kill!.

DO NOT CUT

  1. Metals
  2. Materials that contain a high proportion of glue (such as particle board)
  3. Plastics (or any other materials) that contain chlorine (such as all varieties of vinyl like PVC). A trace amount of chlorine, such as found in the glue in thin plywood or the resin of medium density fiberboard, is acceptable. Particle board has too much glue. You are responsible to know whether there is chlorine in your material before you try to cut it.

If you cut plexiglass, please be sure that it is acrylic and not polycarbonate. Look along the cut edge of the material, from the side. Polycarbonate is dark on this area; acrylic is light. Polycarbonate is one of the most dangerous materials you could try to laser. It instantly starts producing yellow, acrid, toxic fumes which will corrode your lungs, and the mechanisms and lens of the laser. When the lens clouds up with these fumes, it may reflect the laser back into the machine, which may melt the head and set the machine on fire. You may not be able to reach the fire extinguisher due to what is in your lungs. Both these outcomes will upset the community.


Materials which can be cut, can normally be cut up to about 3/16 of an inch. Some materials can be cut thicker with multiple passes. The thickest cut so far was of 1" thick acrylic. However, that required that it be cut from the opposite side, while flipped over and perfectly registered.

Materials List

Material Cut? Etch? Mark? Power Speed
Acrylic (Plexiglass) Yes Yes Yes

Ceramic No
Yes
Yes

Cloth
Yes
Yes
No


Delrin Yes
Yes
Yes


Glass No
Yes
Yes


Coated Metals No
Yes
Yes


Leather Yes
Yes
Yes


Human flesh (yes, this has come up) BANNED
BANNED
BANNED


Marble No
Yes
Yes


Matte Board Yes
Yes
Yes


MDF Yes
Yes
Yes
Speed 10, Power 100, Corner Power 50 to cut 1/4" material

Melamine Yes
Yes
Yes


Model Foam
Yes
Yes
No


Mylar
Yes
Yes
No


Metals - Painted
No
Yes
Yes


Metals - Stainless Steel
No
No
Yes


Particle board
BANNED
BANNED
BANNED


Paper
Yes
Yes
No
Speed 400, Power 30, Corner Power 16 to cut bristol board with high resolution (small kerf)

Speed 200, Power 30, Corner Power 16 to cut bristol board with low resolution-across long edges


Plywood (limited)
Yes
Yes
Yes


Polycarbonate (Lexan, etc.)
BANNED
BANNED
BANNED


Rubber (non-chlorine containing)
Yes
Yes
No


Tile
No
Yes
Yes


Vinyl or PVC of any kind
BANNED
BANNED
BANNED


Wood, veneer
Yes
Yes
Yes


Wood, natural
Yes
Yes
Yes


Wood, Plywood, Birch - 1/8" thick
Yes
Yes
Yes
Cut - 40 (First pass, minimal char, some stray strands.)
Cut - 20

External references on laserable materials

Using the laser cutters

Getting your design ready

You will need access to vector graphics software to design your parts. So far, DXF files seem to work the least-bad of the various vector filetypes, so use them. LaserCut is good for putting finished art into the laser, but barely adequate for designing art.

Using LaserCut software

Setting up the software on your personal laptop
Importing vector graphic files
Basic design set-up
Sending your file to the laser cutter

Setting cutting speed & power

See the Materials List for material-specific parameters

In general:

  • The 2 main settings for cutting are speed and power.
  • If your material isn't cutting through, decrease the speed and/or increase the power. (after checking that everything is set-up/aligned properly)
  • Lower speeds allow for lower cutting power, which saves life on the laser tube.
  • Lower speeds also cut a wider "kerf" (thickness of cut) through the material.
  • At higher speeds the cut is faster but requires higher power, which uses up the laser tube faster.
  • Corner power should be set below to the regular power to reduce the power going around a corner. This makes up for the fact that the laser decelerates around the corner for better control. (Lower speed at the same power would result in a higher effective power in the corners otherwise, making the corners look bad).
  • High power on wood and paper may cause some discoloration near the cuts (browning color from burned material).

Cutting Parts on the Laser Cutter

Time-of-cut Checklist for Bumblebee

Other References

http://boxmaker.rahulbotics.com/ makes wonderful box patterns that you can put into the laser cutter.


FAQ

A list of commonly asked questions

If I have a jpeg file, how do I etch it on a piece of acryllic?
The easiest way is to import the jpeg file into the LaserCut software, then put it on an engrave layer.
If I set speed on LaserCut, what does the SPEED % mean on the display of the Laser Cutter?
The speed on the Laser cutter screen is irrelevant. When uploading files manually (Without the LaserCut software) this is where you change your speed/power. However, LaserCut handles all of this for you, and the cutter will follow your settings from the program, regardless of what they are set for on the cutter itself.
I have a jpeg of a line drawing. How can I cut a piece of acryllic using that line drawing?
It is recommended that you upload the image into a vector art program (ie: Illustrator, Inkscape) and trace the into tool paths. If you try to cut the jpeg directly, the cutter will also try to cut the artifacts in the image and not only extend your cut time, but also create the potential of ruining your image.
Do I need training to use the Laser Cutter? If so, how do I get it?
Yes, use of the laser cutters must requires you to be a member and either training, or the supervision of a trained operator. If you would like to be trained, or need assistance, you may either contact the zone wardens, or one of the trained operators listed (both on the wiki and in the zone) and a time can be set up.
Why do we have 2 Laser Cutters?
When the lasers were originally purchased, we received a huge discount by ordering multiple. (Three were actually ordered. The third is located with our friends, Sector67.) After the funds were raised for the actual purchase (via a kick-starter), one of our members contributed the funds necessary to purchase all three units. As a result, Bumblebee is owned by the space, Wolverine is owned by Roger S., and the third was purchased/is owned by Sector67 in Madison, Wisconsin.
LaserCut is demanding that the dongle be re-installed, even though the dongle is plugged into the normal laser cutter laptop! How can I fix it?
Make sure the USB hub with the dongle is plugged into the side port, not the back port, of the laptop. Windows XP is apparently picky about which USB port drivers are installed to.

Pages in category "Laser Cutter"

The following 9 pages are in this category, out of 9 total.