Laser Cutter Introduction
Once we have a laser cutter, introductions will be carried out by tutors and should take about 2 or 3 hours. Why "waste your time" like that? Attendance to such a briefing is required in order to use the machine without supervision! Scrolling down, tutors can find a checklist of what to teach and attendees can see what to expect.
During a briefing, participants should learn enough to work with the laser cutter independently and safely. They also receive a basic cleaning and maintenance course so not every little hickup has to be solved in the issue tracker.
Here's what will be covered in such a briefing:
- invisible but powerful IR radiation - luckily contained by the enclosure (laser class 1)
- fire can destroy the machine!
- harmful gases
- forbidden materials (ANYTHING containing chlorine or fluorine!) may not be placed into the laser cutter at all
- exhaust filtering system should take care of most others - if you notice a strong smell, something may be broken or the filter is full!
- general overview of technology, mirror system, lens, etc.
- locations of manuals:
- introduction to VisiCut or another suitable laser control software
- settings, raster vs. vector, our collection of material related settings
- importing settings
- practical session, especially demonstrating the machine and filter control pads and focussing
- release of x and y motors, definition of workpiece origin
- network settings (static IP) to communicate with the laser cutter; job selection
- operation of the exhaust filter unit and "Air Assist" compressor
- safety switch: 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.
- install Inkscape or similar software to produce vector files
- install VisiCut (platform independent version, developer branch recommended)
- download/import settings
- import SVG file into VisiCut, select material and/or try individual settings, select elements for cutting or engraving
- calculate time estimate (VisiCut + Zing: about 20 % higher estimate than actual time)
- prepare laser cutter
- to prevent fires, clean the tray under the honeycomb table when it gets cluttered with little pieces
- clean lens (roll Q-tips with isopropanol over lens - roll with light pressure, do not wipe) if necessary
- you can use a mirror or cellphone selfie-cam to look under the lens - only with the laser pointer disabled!
- clean mirror/s (especially mirror above lens) if necessary
- switch on laser cutter
- switch on laser pointer
- deactivate X/Y motors and manually move lens to starting point - touch only the metal parts, not the optics!
- set focus with spring gauge, further reduce height for cutting (aim for the center of your workpiece in that case)
- connect your laptop to our network
- transfer job via VisiCut, notebook can be disconnected once transfer is complete
- select the job on the cutter's display
- activate exhaust system
- activate compressor
- start the job by pressing
- observe cutting, watch for irregular fumes or flames - especially if testing new materials
- cutting might not work for the first one or two cm after a "cold start" - in that case, restart the job briefly at the end
- do not leave the laser cutter unattended!
- cutting: stay at the machine the entire time!
- engraving: stay at least within sight and earshot!
- after cutting
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 enter yourself >>here<< and we will find a good time once a few members are on the list!