Laser Cutter - Setup, concerns, processes etc

Reposting from mailing list:

The laser is imminent! There have been murmurings of a plan once it arrives but no details, so lets talk details :slight_smile:

Here are some questions that need answering:

  • Where will we put it?
  • Is it movable on wheels or installed to a home?
  • Freestanding or desk bound?
  • Whom is going to install a snarc+ to it and implement the access control?
  • Do we have the correct code to log usage of not-the-front-door snarcs? (I’m guessing… yes?)
  • Whom is the most qualified person to do inductions?
  • When will inductions be held then, and what should be included in them? ie, nyc resistor do a 2 hour class once a month.
  • What can we do to increase the safety of the device, ie can we have a dead mans switch so you may not leave it unattended?
  • Can or should we put fire suppression right next to it?
  • There are a few components inline that need to operate for the laser to happen safely, like air assist compression, water chilling and pump etc. Does our model automate the control of these devices; if not, can we build a controller so theres less room for error; if yes, who will build it.
  • Who wants to do up some great laminated cards to remind people of the limitations of the machine, ie what materials are usable, what are outright banned, proper safety procedures etc.
  • Are we electrically ready for it, does it need any special wiring for power that we don’t currently have.
  • It will need to be able to vent fumes happily, do we have a plan for how we want to manage that (short of ‘hang the tube out a window’, we can do so much better)
  • Are there ongoing maintenance requirements? who’s responsibility is that? do we need a way to log hours-of-usage? Can we log those hours automatically rather than rely on pen/paper?

I might be able to clear of a few of these,

  • it is on wheels(freestanding).
  • there is 2 keys that come with the laser cutter.
  • included is a air pump and air exhaust fan as well as a water
    chiller, it has been advised by other hackerspaces that we run the
    water chiller at 30c all the time.
  • a 12 month warranty for main unit and 3 month warranty for laser tube
    and mirrors.
  • there has been talk of putting the laser cutter in the backroom near
    the printer.
  • there are no need for any special power cables to make this run. as
    it runs off a IEC power plug.
  • it is recommended that a computer is pluged in for changing settings
    such as the power levels for the laser to changes from engraving to
  • it also comes with webcam for customer support and 24/7 customer
    support number.
  • for those who are asking the cutting area is 500mm x 700mm but the
    door can be opened to fit larger cuts in.
  • the laser tube has been reported to last as long as 3000+ hours
  • the mirrors need to be cleaned once a week.

Aaron, Luke and myself have been chatting, and we’ve schemed three things.

  1. Luke has new snarc+ boards coming, which can be put on this cutter as an interlock for induction purposes. hooray!
  2. We’re looking at getting a co2 tank from a homebrew supplier and some air fittings and a ball valve as a ‘first stage non destructive fire suppression’ system. we will also probably look at getting a co2 extinguisher proper for ‘oh shit oh shit oh shit’ moments.
  3. We’re going to knock up something like this volt hour metre and set it up with a write-to-sd and key switch from jaycar so the machine will engage estop until maintenance is performed by a keyholder.

Can we please get an update/final answer on:

  • Inductions: Who & when?
  • Capabilities. What can I cut with it? What should I definitely NOT put in it.
  • Requirements: What format do I need to supply files in?
  • Costs: How much per what?
  • Any special software needed? Where can I grab a copy?

I’ve created some gauges for engraving:


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Nice, though you should avoid using the laser at its max power (100%) as it shortens the life of the laser tube.
(Can someone confirm this?)

When I was looking around to see if I could find anything to support my claim I found this site.

Looks like it has a list of “Safe” materials along with some cutting guide lines though I assume these would be for their epic 130W vs our meh 60W

Polymer Identification by Burnination - That bad stuff you can’t cut

Laser cutting plastics that contain chlorine (aka PVC) is bad.
It releases dangerous chlorine gas which is corrosive.
Adam wanted to etch his laptop safely, so we needed to identify the plastic in his lid.
To do this, we used Science. There is a guide on how to identify polymers based on a series of tests.
We used the copper wire test and deduced that his laptop was safe to etch. Yay!
More info here:

Something from our friend over at adafuit

Fire extinguishers are an absolute necessity.

And the take home message

Never let the machine run unattended especially when its cutting!

This is correct Luke.

Please never run the laser cutter at max power as it does shortern the lifespan of the tube a lot faster

It wasnt used at max. it was used at 90%.

Looking at those pictures you don’t seem to get much more out of anything
over 30%.

Sorry, that last one is actually “90% (MAX)”. I realise now that this isn’t clear. I am aware that full power wears out the tube.

EDIT: Fixed.

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There is a notable difference every time you double the power…

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Thanks Luminous. Those look really useful!

If you guys are interested in Laser Cuttable plywood, My school just found a supplier :slight_smile:

Their website’s not very good but perhaps there phone service is better - Or maybe you guys already have some plywood.

Also our laser is 80W, so not sure if the space’s 60W will be able to handle it.

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I’ve added a page to the Wiki for this, please feel free to update/correct it where necessary.


Needs an FAQ with the question:

Q: How do I play with it to make it make pew pew pew noises?


In all serious, perhaps a paragraph near the top to point out its a
dangerous tool thats also a fire hazard, and to treat it with respect? I’ve
already spotted people doing technically wrong things on it, just minor
inconsequentials, but they worry me nonetheless.

Looks like a great start :smiley:

Not mine, but when I get some time with the laser next I’ll try to make us one.

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That looks like a very good idea :slight_smile:

Thanks nog. That wiki page is exactly what I was after.

@crofty: I’ve noticed that the bed needs height adjustment between cutting on the far left and far right. How can I level the bed?

I’m hapy to write instructions for anyone who needs to level it later (or decides the job I do isn’t good enough for them. Good for you, future nitpicker).

Adjusting the bed isn’t a small task as it requires to take the chain off.

Are you cutting on the honeycomb bed?
The main bed last time I checked was spot on (good enough not to bother).

I noticed the honeycomb bed is slightly warped, I assume it was done in
travel but it doesn’t help people leaning it against a table or wall where
others can and will trip over it bending it more.

Not saying you have been doing this, just a general observation.

So unless the main bed isn’t level, I wouldn’t touch it…