Laser Cutter Instructions

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Laser Cutter Operating Instructions

Turning ON the Laser:

  1. Using the switches located by the door just inside the Furnace Room, turn on the Power Vent and the light in that room. Keep the door closed.
  2. Boot up the Laser’s laptop computer.
  3. Check to make sure the Ethernet cable is connecting the laptop to the Laser Cutter.
  4. Important!! Switch on the power strip located in the left rear corner of the bench. This turns on the air compressor and the cooling water pump. DO NOT FORGET TO DO THIS STEP!!
  5. Confirm that you can hear the sound of the air compressor and that you can feel the vibration of the water pump on the water bucket.
  6. Twist the Big Red Button in the direction of its arrows to power up the laser.
  7. Launch the RetinaEngrave software and look for “Connection” and an IP Address at the bottom of its screen.
  8. Paper Size should be set to “FSL Hobby Series Gen5 20 x 12”
  9. Click “No” for “Ignore Raster and Load Vector”.
  10. Send the Laser Cutter to its home position. This must be done before cutting your first piece after powering up the Laser Cutter.

Focusing the Laser:

  1. Place your material in the Laser Cutter.
  2. Use the Arrow Buttons on the Laser Cutter to position the lens head somewhere over the material.
  3. Place the Focusing Billet (the metal cylinder marked with the number “2”) between the lens head and the material.
  4. Loosen the thumb screw on the front of the lens head and let it drop down to rest squarely on top of the Focusing Billet.
  5. Tighten the thumbscrew while being careful that the lens head remains squarely on the Focusing Billet.

Turning OFF the Laser Cutter:

  1. Hit the Big Red Button on the top of the Laser Cutter.
  2. Switch off the power strip located at the left rear corner of the bench.
  3. Turn off the laptop.
  4. Turn off the Power Vent and light in the Furnace Room.
  5. Close the Laser Cutter’s lid.

Some Handy Keyboard Shortcuts:

  1. “h” = Home Position
  2. “j” = Causes the spotting laser to draw a box around the extents of your piece. Use this to check the position of where the cut will take place on your stock material.
  3. “g” = Means Go Make the Cut! First make sure the lid is closed or nothing will happen.

Some Tips:

  1. If you’re cutting out shapes then your drawing file must be made up of continuous, polylines that form closed shapes.
  2. If your shape contains cutouts enclosed by an outer shape then you should assign a line-color to the lines forming the inner shapes that’s different from the line-color of the outer shape. That way you can have the laser cut those inner shapes first before it cuts the outer most shape that would release the piece from the stock material. It’s generally best to cut from the innermost shape to the outermost shape.
  3. If cutting through the material it’s best to set the Power Level to 100%, make a Single Pass and lower the Cutting Speed to just the point at which the laser pokes through the material but no slower. This will require experimenting with the cutting speed on your particular material and thickness.
  4. Making Boxes: If you want to make a 3d box that will fit together there is a handy Perl script written by another maker from NYCResistor. Code is here.