Full Spectrum laser cutter

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Pages relating to
the Full Spectrum laser cutter
Laser Cutter
Laser Cutter Materials
Laser Cutter Settings
Software Tips
Authorized users

"Cathy" is our large laser cutter, a Full Spectrum Pro LF 36x24. It has a 90 watt laser tube, and a 24" by 36" cutting area.

WARNING! Fire hazard!

Materials in the laser cutter can burst into flames at any time. Even materials that you have cut in the past with no ill effect can suddenly ignite. YOU MUST REMAIN AT THE LASER CUTTER ANY TIME THE LASER IS FIRING! No exceptions -- if you must leave the laser cutter, make sure the safety switch is OFF before you step away. Failure to follow this rule will result in an IMMEDIATE BAN from the laser cutter.

Training required

You must be trained on the laser cutter before you use it! The basic training course will be free, and cover the basics of working with the laser cutter. This page is not a substitute for the class -- you must be trained in by one of the approved laser trainers.

Laser Calendar

Consult the laser calendar to see when the laser cutter is booked. Members with a scheduled appointment have priority on the laser cutter during that time. If no one has time booked, the laser is available for walk-up use.

To reserve time on the laser cutter, send an email to the Laser Cabal; the address is laser (at) tcmaker.org

If you use Google Calendar, you can also "invite" the laser cutter to a meeting. The laser cutter calendar's address is:

tcmaker.org_2d3935333934333630383333 (at) resource.calendar.google.com

If the time is available, your invite will be automatically accepted. This will only work from a Google calendar -- other clients are not supported.

Paying for your usage

The laser costs $5/hour to run. Right now we are relying on your honesty and good will to keep track of laser usage and fees. When you use the laser cutter:

  • Write your name, the date and amount of time you used in the notebook on top of the laser cutter
  • Put the proper amount of money in the box on the counter

If the honor system doesn't work out, we'll have to figure out a more involved method of tracking time and payments. This will undoubtedly result in the laser being unavailable for an extended period of time while some sort of hack is applied. No one wants that, so be a good citizen and pay for your lasering!

Materials

The laser cutter can etch and/or cut a wide range of materials -- but some materials don't work well, and some materials are extremely hazardous to the machine and nearby humans. Check the list of Laser Cutter Materials before placing anything in the laser.

Settings

Recommended settings for various materials: Laser Cutter Settings

Software

File formats

The laser cutter software is fed through a print driver, so any file that can be printed on the control computer can be sent to the laser cutter. We've had good success with PDF files, so we recommend using that format for ready-to-cut artwork.

The control software itself can directly open XPS files. Windows users can use the "XPS Document Writer" printer to create an XPS file. 

Software tips

We have a page of tips for using various softwares with the laser cutter. Please add your own hints and kinks as you find them!

Laser computers

There are two laser-related computers, both running Windows 7. The controller is connected to the laser, and is used to feed it jobs. There is also a design station where you can edit artwork to be run on the laser.

The controller has the following software installed:

  • Adobe Reader 11
  • Autodesk 123D Make
  • Inkscape 0.48.4
  • RetinaEngrave 4.404 (laser cuter control software)
  • Sketchup 2013

The design station has the same software, and possibly other packages as well. If you'd like a particular software package installed, talk to the laser cabal, and we'll see what we can do.

Maintenance

Users are responsible for cleaning up after themselves. Make sure you remove any off-cuts from the laser bed, and clean up the countertops when you're finished.

The laser cabal is responsible for the maintenance of the laser. Users should not attempt to align or clean the optics!

Resources