Laser Cutter Introduction

From CoMakingSpace Wiki

This is the content required for an introduction to our laser cutter- reading this does NOT replace the mandatory session with a tutor! It will make it a lot quicker though ;-)

If you need this introduction, please reach out to the following tutors: Martin, Patrick, Johannes, Keno, Sebastian, Kalun, Luzian, Björn, Utis

Let's begin! First off, make sure you have read the machine's manual (available on the Laser PC).


Personal protection: no special PPE needed since the enclosure protects you.

Dangers Precautions
Fumes generated by burning/evaporating your work-piece might be dangerous
  • Always ensure the exhaust filtering system is turned on before firing the laser.
  • Make sure your work-piece can safely be used with a laser cutter (please reference the list of possible materials
  • Make sure you have read the list of forbidden materials (ANYTHING containing halogens like chlorine or fluorine!) may not be placed into the laser cutter at all
  • If you notice a strong smell: Turn off the laser and check the filtering system: something may be broken or the filter is full!
Invisible but powerful IR radiation luckily contained by the enclosure (laser class 1)
  • safety contacts prevent the laser tube from firing if the lid or any relevant side panels are open
Fire can destroy the machine!
  • do not leave the room when operating the machine
  • double-check the CO2 fire extinguisher is within reach
  • opening the lid can already be effective in putting out small fires

Basics of Laser Cutting

The Tutor will show you:

Operating the Machine

The tutor will first show you the basic operations at the laser:

  • How to prepare the laser cutter
    • to prevent fires, clean the tray under the table when it gets cluttered with little pieces
    • turn on the water cooling system and let it get to temperature (~20°C)
  • How to turn on the laser
  • How to move the x and y motors by using the control panel
    • Adjust the jog length to move with larger / smaller steps
  • How to ensure the focus of the laser is set correctly by moving the table up and down
  • How to use the emergency stop
  • How to check the safety switches: laser turns off when glass is lifted - important when fire breaks out!
    • also useful if you only have one try and want a "dry run" using only the pointer (that laser stays on)

This should act as a guide, tutors can always emphasize or add points of importance.


The tutor will show you:

  • software
    • install Inkscape or similar software to produce vector files
    • install LaserCut 5.3 (Demo version, Windows only)
    • download/import settings
    • import DXF file into LaserCut 5.3
      • set cutting/engraving settings per path
      • simulate toolpath: Laser --> Simulate
      • estimate work time Estimate Work Time Button.png
      • transfer job
      • the entire preparation workflow can be found in detail under "LaserCut 5.3"
  • execution
    • activate water chiller
    • activate exhaust system
    • prepare the machine (Machine Control)
    • set the focus
    • when in focus, the red laser should be on the right spot (If nobody touched it).
      • you may press Laser to check the divergence of the laser and your cutting point to be extra sure if you have a test piece
    • you may press Test on the machine to assure that the file fits the measurements of your workpiece: the machine's head will travel around the bounding rectangle of your design
    • start the job either via the Laser PC or on the cutter's display
    • observe cutting, watch for irregular fumes or flames - especially if testing new materials
    • cutting might not work for the first one or two cm if you have just started the machine for the first time that day - in that case, restart the job briefly at the end
    • do not leave the laser cutter unattended (fire hazard)!
      • cutting: stay at the machine the entire time!
      • engraving: stay at least within sight and earshot!
  • after cutting
    • switch off LaserCutter & water chiller
    • remove parts from table
    • clean tray under the table
    • vacuum the table if necessary
    • share your experiences with the others :-)
    • donate for the machine time!
      • currently 20 ct per minute
    • turn off the PC

Waiting List

This introduction takes longer than many others and usually can't be done spontaneously during regular opening times. If you would like to receive it, please add yourself to >> this list << and we will find a good time once a few members are on it!