Full Spectrum laser cutter

From Twin Cities Maker wiki
Revision as of 23:19, 14 February 2017 by Danbackslide (Talk | contribs)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

 

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

Our laser cutter is a Full Spectrum Pro LF 36x24. It has a 80 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 any running jobs have been paused or stopped 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 or low-cost, 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.

Reservation etiquette

  • Reserve a reasonable amount of time. What's reasonable? That depends on the time of day and the day of the week. 8 hours from midnight to 8am on a Tuesday is reasonable, while noon to 8pm on a Saturday is not. Remember, be excellent to each other, and share the laser cutter with your fellow members.
  • Please arrive no later than 15 minutes after the start of your reservation.
  • Be aware of who's coming in after your reservation. Try to plan ahead, and don't start long jobs that will put you over your end time if someone else is coming in.

Paying for your usage

The laser costs $5/hour to run. 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 on the log sheet on the counter
  • Put the proper amount of money in the happy pay box next to the laser room door

The honor system has been working very well for us so far. Let's keep that going -- good will is far more reliable than some technological solution that will inevitably break down when you really want to use the laser. Massive huge thank you's to everyone for being excellent!

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. SVG files can also be used, but Inkscape's printing system is occasionally flaky. PDFs have been very consistent.

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 computer

The control computer is connected to the laser, and is used to feed it jobs. This computer has no network access beyond the laser cutter itself -- they are sitting on their own little network, isolated from the rest of the building. Use a USB drive to get your files onto the computer.

The controller has at least the following software installed:

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

If you'd like a particular software package installed, talk to the laser cabal, and we'll see what we can do.

Cleaning up

Users are responsible for cleaning up after themselves. Make sure you remove any off-cuts from the laser bed; there's a small shop vac in the room that you can use to suck up the pesky small bits. Clean up the countertop and table when you're finished.

Do not store any materials in the laser room! Any material found in the laser room, green-tagged or not, will be removed and placed on the Up For Grabs shelf in the member storage area.

Maintenance

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

Do you want to learn how to clean the optics, vacuum out all the goo, re-level the bed, align the laser? Send an email to laser (at) tcmaker (dot) org, and we'll talk!

Resources