Laser Cutting @ M|I|C/A

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Video Tutorials

I made some video tutorials specific to our machines and workflow. These are located on the server at:

\\picasso.mica.edu\Courses\_Student Resources\dFab\Resources\VideoTutorials

Press "windows" + R, then copy the above path into the box. Please bring headphones to watch the appropriate videos in the dFab Computer Lab prior using these machines for the first time. The videos are sequenced. If things are not making sense, you may need to go backward in the sequence.

Once you have navigated to the desired video folder, choose the file named DesiredTopic_player.html. This version of the video has chapter markers to allow for easy navigation should you need to reference this video at a later date.

Our Laser Cutting Machines

Trotec Speedy 300

Trotec Power Settings
Laser: 120w
Bed Size: 17in x 29in
Printer Name: Trotec Engraver v10.3.0

Universal -- PLS 6.75

Universal Power Settings
Laser: 75w
Bed Size: 18in x 32in
Printer Name: PLS6.75
New User Config Settings:

\\picasso.mica.edu\Courses\_Student Resources\dFab\Resources\Lasers\NewUser.las

Materials

It's important that your material is flat! Start out with something under 1/8 inch thick.

Understanding Power, Speed, and PPI:

Power - A percentage (%) of the total machine power (watts). Increase the power and you will increase how deep you cut.

Speed - A percentage (%) of the total machine speed. Decrease speed to increase how deep you cut. For Vector (following your lines) processes, this value should not be above 15% to 20%. For Raster (zig zag over a jpeg for example) this value should be 100% unless you need to cut deeper and are already at 100% power.

PPI- Pulses Per Inch. A value between 0 and 1000. The laser is actually making a series of very small holes when it "cuts". These are approximately 0.005" in diameter. One inch divided by 0.005" is 200, so the minimum setting for this parameter is usually 200ppi. Some materials burn more than others, for wood sometimes we'll go down to 160ppi (assuming a diameter of 0.00625") to reduce burning. For Acrylic sheet we set this to 1000ppi for a better edge finish.

Acceptable Materials

  • Cardboard, chipboard, mat board or any other paper product
  • Plywood, and solid wood (more plys = harder to cut)
  • Masonite (has a lot of glue and is difficult to cut over 1/4 inch)
  • Cotton Fabrics
  • Acrylic Sheet (Plexiglas) - paper backing can be left on, plastic backing must be removed
  • Stone (Etch only)
  • Leather
  • Anodized Aluminum (Etch only)

Banned Materials

  • Vinyl
  • Lexan
  • Foam
  • Polycarbonate
  • PVC
  • Styrene
  • Mirror (mirrored acrylic sheet is OK if the mirror is face down)

Common Mistakes

If you're not completely sure, have a tech look over your setup before starting the machine.

Wrong Material:
Its easy to mistake plastics for one another, common mistakes are with clear sheet plastics such as confusing lexan or polycarbonate for Plexiglas.

Forgot Air Assist:
Forgetting to turn on air assist will damage our lens. This is referred to as either "Air Assist" (set to "on") or "Flow" (set to "air" with a Flow Rate of "75%")in the print driver.

Out of Focus:
Use a FLAT sheet! If your sheet has warped, cut it in half first. If you are not in focus, your cut line will be thick. Always carefully measure your material thickness with calipers (Universal) or focus accurately (Trotec).

Test your settings:
Each time you cut, even if you have cut that material before, run a quick cut to be sure that your settings are right. Always start with settings that are too low and increase them until you get the desired result. This will save you time and much needed $krilla.

Safety

No personal protective equipment (PPE) is required for standard operation of the lasers, however, laser radiation is dangerous. Never bypass or remove any of the safety systems on the machine. Do not perform any maintenance on the machine. All maintenance is performed or approved by the Digital Fabrication Studios Manager.

Unsupervised operation of the system is not permitted.

Don't stare directly at the laser, it is very bright and can damage your eye sight like staring directly at the sun.

Before processing materials the user must verify that no harmful gases or fumes will be generated. It is the user's responsibility to know the materials he or she is working with.

PVC must never be cut on our lasers.

Follow all CAUTION and SAFETY labeling.