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Laser Engraving and Cutting

A guide to PPLD's laser engravers/cutters

What is the Rotary Attachment?

The rotary attachment is a device that plugs into the laser cutter and allows you to engrave on rounded objects. The laser only fires straight down, so it normally cannot engrave along the sides and bottom of an object. However, the rotary slowly revolves the object as the laser fires, allowing you to engrave around the entire object.

When to Use the Rotary Attachment

In order for the rotary attachment to work properly, the objects must be symmetrical around the tall axis (top to bottom). Curvature is usually tolerable, though it will affect what areas can be engraved.

Objects like pint glasses, water bottles, wine/champagne glasses, and rolling pins tend to work well:

 

If an object is not perfectly round, it can cause problems ranging from skewing the engraving to the object falling off the rotary attachment. For example, in the large stein (on the left in the photo below), the heavy handle will cause the center of mass to constantly shift as the object rotates. The other two objects are not symmetrical or completely round, which could cause the object to fall off of the attachment.

Note that other limitations, such as material type, apply to objects that use the rotary attachment.

Important Notes About the Rotary Attachment

While objects only need to be symmetrical along one axis, unevenness can cause problems. Because the laser has to focus on a certain point, any curvature of the object will limit the area that can be engraved on. In the below diagram, the laser is focused on the widest part of the glass, limiting the area that can be engraved to a narrow band around the middle.

Using the Rotary Attachment

Important! Only a staff member can set up the rotary attachment. Times when it is usable may be limited due to staff availability. Please contact the Makerspace that you will be visiting for more information.

Lay your object in the attachment so one edge is pushed against the black plastic nub. This can either be the top or the bottom of the object, and the side that works best will depend on the object - generally speaking, you want the wider end pushed against the nub.

Using the wheel on the right side, raise or lower the right side until the area that you are engraving is level. You can use either a level or the focusing key / dongle to ensure that it is at the proper height.

When creating the size of your workspace / artboard, the width of the workspace should be the height of the object and the height of the workspace should be the circumference of the object. This is to account for the fact that the object is rotated 90 degrees in the machine.

Add your images, but make sure you rotate them 90 degrees so the image is in the same orientation as the object. Once everything is laid out, go into the Epilog settings dialog and load the settings as you normally would, including setting the piece size to the size of the workspace.

Tips on Using the Rotary Attachment

  • It is advisable to run a test first (high speed and 0% power) to ensure that the object rotates properly.
  • If the object is glass, please see the Working with Glass page of this guide for more information.
  • Soap should not be applied to the object as it can cause it to slip off the rotary attachment. Therefore, do not touch any engraved part of a glass object until the glass has been thoroughly cleaned.
  • The laser will not damage the contents of a container (such as a wine bottle), but if there is any liquid, the container must be sealed before being put in the engraver. If the liquid can be removed (such as with a water bottle), it must be removed before the object is placed in the machine.
  • Instead of setting the workspace height to be the full circumference of the object, you can set it to be the width of the image.