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Laser Engraving and Cutting

A guide to PPLD's laser engravers/cutters

Setting Up the Machine

While the different laser cutters function in similar ways, there are a few differences specific to each one. For detailed machine setup instructions, please select the branch that you will be visiting from the tabs above.

Before You Begin

Make sure that you have usable materials and that they will fit into the machine. You can make a reservation to use the laser cutter so you can plan your time, or you can drop in to the makerspace during Open Hours to see if it's available. Visit the Make at East page to view Open Hours or link to the reservation page:


The Control Panel

Pressing the green Go button (with the triangle) will begin the engraving / cutting. The red Stop button (with the two vertical lines / pause symbol) will pause the engraving / cutting. If you wish to continue after pausing, press Go again and the machine will pick up where it left off.

The Reset (#0) button will allow you to reset the laser and start your project over.

To focus the laser, you will need to put the laser in Focus Mode. You can get there by pressing the Focus (#5) button. To return to the job selection menu and get out of Focus Mode, press the Job (#6) button.

You can also manually focus the laser by pressing the X/Y Off (#8) button. Gently pull the physical X and Y axes to the spot you will be engraving and use the Up and Down (#3 & #4) arrows to move the bed up or down. To send the X and/or Y axis back to its home position, press the Reset (#0) button.

The Up and Down arrow keys will either cycle through jobs or move the laser bed up and down, depending on what mode the machine is in.

The Pointer (#7) button will turn on a red-dot pointer directly over where the laser is set.

The Power and Speed settings can be adjusted using the Control Panel during a Raster job. To adjust, simply press the Power (#2) or Speed (#1) button and then the Up and Down arrows to adjust the setting.

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Getting things started

1. Turn on the exhaust fan. The switch is located on the wall opposite the laser, between the 3D printers and staff cabinet.

2. Turn on the air assist (on the left side of the laser) by turning on the black power strip (to the left of the laser, on the table with the laptop). The air assist helps with ventilation and reduces smoke and scorching, so it should be used whenever possible.

3. Turn on the laser cutter (the power switch is on the right side of the machine). Wait until the display reads "Job."

 

 

 

 


Manually focusing the laser

1. Press the X/Y Off (#8) button. Once the display reads, "X/Y Disabled," move to Step 2.

2. Gently pull the laser carriage to the spot where the image will be engraved or cut.

3. Release the Focus Gauge so it swings from the x-axis rail.

 

4. Use the Up and Down keys to raise or lower the platform as needed so the tip of the Focus Gauge barely touches the top of the material. The Focus Gauge should be able to make an arc freely.

Correctly Focused                                                                                                                                                                      Incorrectly Focused

5. Once the table is at the right height, reattach the Focus Gauge to the laser carriage. Press the Reset (#0) button to send the laser carriage to its home position.

 

Before You Begin

Make sure that you have usable materials and that they will fit into the machine. You can make a reservation to use the laser cutter so you can plan your time, or you can drop in to the makerspace during Open Hours to see if it's available. Visit the Make II at Library 21c page to view Open Hours or link to the reservation page:


The Control Panel

Pressing the Go button will begin the engraving / cutting. The Stop button will pause the engraving/cutting. If you wish to continue press Go and the machine will pick up where it left off.

The Reset button will allow you to reset the laser and start your project over.

To focus the laser you will need to put the laser in Focus Mode. You can get there by pressing the Focus button (right arrow). To return to the job selection menu, press the Job button (left arrow).

The Up and Down arrow keys will either cycle through jobs or move the laser bed up and down, depending on what mode it is in.

The Pointer button will turn on a red-dot pointer directly over where the laser is set.

The Trash button will delete the currently selected job.

The other buttons are not used in operating the laser cutter.


Getting things started

1. Turn on the laser cutter (power switch is on the left of the machine). Wait until the display says “Job:”

2. Turn on the air assist (on the left side of the laser). The air assist helps with ventilation and reduces smoke and scorching, so it should be used whenever possible.

3. Make sure that exhaust fan is on. This is next to the first-aid kit. The vent will most likely be running, however you should always double check before your first job.


Focusing the Laser

Take the focusing attachment and place it on the laser assembly. The two prongs on the assembly will fit into the holes on the attachment.

Use the focus command and the up and down keys to raise or lower the platform as needed so the tip of the attachment barely touches the top of the material. Remove the attachment when finished.

  • The reason for focusing is because there are actually two laser beams generated by the machine, and the focal point needs to be at the very top of the material to get the best results.
  • If the platform is too far below the focal point, the material will not be hit with enough power and the etching/cutting will either not work well or not work at all.
  • If the platform is too high, you run the risk of the laser assembly hitting the material you are working on and damaging either the machine or the material.
  • Once the object is positioned properly, you are ready to set up your design in Adobe Illustrator or other compatible software.

Before You Begin

Make sure that you have usable materials and that they will fit into the machine. You can make a reservation to use the laser cutter so you can plan your time, or you can drop in to the makerspace during Open Hours to see if it's available. Visit the Make at Sand Creek page to view Open Hours or link to the reservation page:


The Control Panel

Pressing the Go button will begin the engraving / cutting. The Stop button will pause the engraving / cutting. If you wish to continue after pausing, press Go again and the machine will pick up where it left off.

The Reset button will allow you to reset the laser and start your project over.

To focus the laser, you will need to put the laser in Focus Mode. You can get there by pressing the Focus button (right arrow). To return to the job selection menu and get out of Focus Mode, press the Job button (left arrow).

You can also manually focus the laser by pressing the X/Y Off (#8) button. Gently pull the physical X and Y axes to the spot you will be engraving and use the Up and Down arrows to move the bed up or down. To send the X and/or Y axis back to its home position, press the Reset button.

The Up and Down arrow keys will either cycle through jobs or move the laser bed up and down, depending on what mode the machine is in.

The Pointer button will turn on a red-dot pointer directly over where the laser is set.

The Power and Speed settings can be adjusted using the Control Panel during a Raster job. To adjust, simply press the Power (#2) or Speed (#1) button and then the Up and Down arrows to adjust the setting.


Getting things started

1. Turn on both exhaust fans. The switches are on the wall to the right of the laser cutter.

2. Turn on the air assist (on the right side of the laser) by flipping on the white power strip (directly under the laser cutter's power switch). The air assist helps with ventilation and reduces smoke and scorching, so it should be used whenever possible.

3. Turn on the laser cutter (power switch is on the right side of the machine). Wait until the display reads "Job."


Manually focusing the laser

1. Press the X/Y Off (#8) button. Once the display reads, "X/Y Disabled," move to Step 2.

2. Gently pull the laser carriage to the spot where the image will be engraved or cut.

3. Release the Focus Gauge so it swings from the x-axis rail.

 

4. Use the Up and Down keys to raise or lower the platform as needed so the tip of the Focus Gauge barely touches the top of the material. The Focus Gauge should be able to make an arc freely.

Correctly Focused                                                                                                                                                                      Incorrectly Focused

5. Once the table is at the right height, reattach the Focus Gauge to the laser carriage. Press the Reset button to send the laser carriage to its home position.