Godin:Protocols/Laser cutter

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Contents

Safety

A Class I enclosure protects the user from laser irradiation during normal operation. Be sure read the LG-500 Training Manual for additional safety precautions. Users must complete equipment training prior to use.

Description

The laser cutter is a versatile tool to cut or engrave materials such as wood and acrylic. The full list of materials can be found here. Be sure NOT to use PVC or Vinyl, as released fumes are toxic and will damage the optics.

Design

The laser cutter recognizes files in a .mol format. These are generated by a CorelDRAW extension that converts vector-based designs into milling instructions. You can cut holes, engrave shapes or mill holes. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Shapes/Lines of the same color will be cut/engraved at the same time. Since shapes will “fall out” as they’re milled, be sure to order them so that inner patterns get cut first, outer ones get cut last.
  • Engravings have to consist of closed shapes. For lettering, make sure the fill is blank with only the contour showing.
  • Be sure not to exceed the dimensions of the laser cutter, as this will generate an error.
  • Software requires use of a Dongle.

Here are a few settings that are convenient:

Material Result Mode Speed Power
1/4" AcrylicGroovesEngrave10040
1/4" AcrylicEngravingEngrave30030
1/4" AcrylicFull CutCut2.5100
Polystyrene DishFull CutCut1020

Once a pattern is drawn, proceed by clicking the Laser Cut icon to the top left of the screen. To Has modify data, you click yes. To the AI format can't support image you click ok. You're then lead to a 'Laser Output' screen. First, make sure your design is as pictured to the left. In the Layer tab, you then chose the desired speeds/powers associated with each type of cut/engraving. You can also modify the order by using the arrows. Finally, you enter the 'Stand-alone' tab and click on Export file to generate a .mol filetype.

Operating Procedure

  • Setup

Turn on the chiller, compressed air flow and ventilation pump. Open the lid, place your target material above the grating. As you do so, inspect the lenses for dust/debris. If they're dust-free AND have been recently cleaned you may skip the next step, and go to Height Adjustment.

  • Optics cleaning

Optics cleaning is part of proper maintenance, and must be preformed regularly (once a week). There are 3 mirrors and 1 lens to be cleaned. Use ethanol and lens paper, and be careful not to scratch the surfaces. 2 mirrors are directly accessible through the front of the system, the other may require access through the back. The lens will have to be removed for cleaning. It is held in place with a spanner nut with two slide slots. Once you remove the nut, place your finger on the bottom of the air nozzle, and the lens should easily pop out. Clean it, and replace it with convex side facing down.

  • Height Adjustment

The system can be activated by inserting/turning the key. Make sure the safety knob is released. Next, insert the usb key, and select your file to download from the list. Once all files are downloaded, press Esc and you'll be prompted to remove the usb key. For a full description of panel functions, refer to LG-500 Training Manual p.17. One thing to remember is that the arrow keys will only move the laser on the XY plane if no menu item is selected. To unselect, press Esc. Move the laser to somewhere directly above your target material. Next, click on Z, and press the arrow up key so there is sufficient clearance to place your height adjustment tool (small cylinder) directly below the small yellow detector box. Then, lift the lid, and place it as described. Click on 'Reset', and the system will automatically adjust the height so as to have the proper laser focus on the sample. When complete, remove the alignment tool, and click on Z to exit this mode.

  • Start

First, select your design by scrolling through the listed files. To make sure your design is where it should be, use the Test key. Doing so will make the red positioning laser draw the outline of your design, without actually cutting. If satisfied, you're ready to proceed with the actual cut/engrave pattern. Once you start, pressing the 'Start/Pause' key will pause the cut mid-process. Stop will halt the process, as will the emergency 'Stop' button. Press 'Start/Pause' to begin. Be cautious as you cut that your material is behaving as expected, ie it is not flaming/burning.

  • Shut Down

Once complete, simply power off the system by removing the key. It is recommended you wait a few minutes prior to opening the lid if you're working with materials that release fumes (like acrylic). You should also wait a few minutes prior to shutting down the chiller, so the laser fully cools down.

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