TRAINING REQUIRED BEFORE USE.
LS3060 from HPC Laser
Laser: 40W glass CO2
Stocks of acrylic, plywood and MDF are usually available in the lab, this is the pricelist. The laser can also cut paper and card.
Other materials may be possible, but always seek advice from an experienced user. If you supply your own, make sure that it is intended for use with a laser cutter. Some materials may catch fire, damage the cutter or release toxic fumes.
This guide from ATX Hackerspace provides a good summary of the options.
Engraving of some coated metals is possible, Martin has documented his experiences of engraving anodised aluminium.
There is always a fire risk when using the laser. The laser should not be left unattended during a cut.
Failure to pay attention to the laser can result in this:
Usage is charged by cutting time: £0.09 per minute (£5.40 per hour) for members, £15 per hour for non-members. You don't need to pay for a full hour if you don't use it.
Materials cost between £1.50 (3mm MDF) and £13 (6mm acrylic), per 300x600mm sheet. See the pricelist. You may provide your own materials as long as they are suitable for laser cutting.
The power level in the Windows software should be set between 1% and 100%, as advised below or according to your own experience.
The power level on the laser cutter itself (on the LCD menu) is calibrated for the tube and power supply, and should not be changed.
Please add your own preferred settings here, but do not edit the existing entries. If you believe a setting is inappropriate, use
strikeout and add a new entry with your corrections. Add your name to the notes so that other users can make an informed decision where there is a conflict of recommendations.
|Material||Cut Speed||Cut Power||Notes|
|Acrylic||1mm||12||98||Recommended by Julian|
|2mm||9.5||98||Recommended by Julian|
|3mm||8||98||From HPC Manual|
|4mm||4.5||98||Recommended by Julian|
|5mm||3.5||98||From HPC Manual|
|5mm (black)||3||98||Recommended by Julian|
|8mm||1.5||98||Recommended by Julian|
|10mm||1||98||From HPC Manual|
|Ply||1.5mm||10||98||From HPC Manual|
|3mm||7||98||From HPC Manual|
|5mm||7||98||From HPC Manual|
|6mm||1.5||98||From HPC Manual|
|3mm||5||98||From HPC Manual|
|4mm||4||98||From HPC Manual|
|6mm||From HPC Manual|
|Laminate||1.5mm||22 (x3 passes)||80||Recommended by Random|
|3mm||15||80||From HPC Manual|
|Corrugated Cardboard 3mm||12||98||From HPC Manual|
|Hardboard 3mm||3||98||From HPC Manual|
|Paper||20||20||From HPC Manual|
|Card||25||40||From HPC Manual|
|Mount Board||12||98||From HPC Manual|
|Funky Foam||25||25||From HPC Manual|
|Material||Engrave Speed||Engrave Power||Notes|
|Acrylic||200||21||From HPC Manual|
|Acrylic||200||50||Recommended by Julian|
|Ply||200||17||From HPC Manual|
|MDF||200||25||From HPC Manual|
|Corrugated Cardboard||200||20||From HPC Manual|
|Paper||200||15||From HPC Manual|
|Card||200||20||From HPC Manual|
|Mount Board||200||20||From HPC Manual|
|Engraving Laminate||200||21||From HPC Manual|
|Engraving Laminate||200||80||Recommended by Random|
For optimal function, the laser light needs to be properly focused in relation to the surface of the material. This is adjusted by pressing the Esc button on the machine user interface followed by the Z button and pressing the left and right arrows to move the laser focus up and down. A 60mm perspex square is attached to the left side of the machine by a piece of string. With the substrate on the cutting bed, place one of the thin sides of the square on the substrate and adjust the height of the laser focusing head until it is flush with the top side of the square. It may be necessary to move the laser focusing head in order to gain physical access to it for calibration. This is done using the directional arrows on the physical machine user interface.
Wobbly cuts, intermittent cuts: check the the circular retaining rings that secure the mirrors to their brackets. These can work loose, allowing the mirror(s) to wobble within their mounts.
Inconsistent cuts: if some areas on the bed are cutting better than others, the beam is most likely out of alignment.
Unsuccessful cut with recommended settings: Z-axis is wrong, or the mirrors need to be cleaned.
Imported files such as
dxf may not convert to polygons correctly (individual line-segments are selectable in the UI, rather than the polygon as a whole). To correct this, use the
Tools > unite lines
menu option after importing.
The laser must be properly focused onto the material in order to cut effectively and the appropriate focal point depends on the thickness of the material. Calibrate the focal point per the instructions above. If the material does not sit flat on the cutting bed, appropriate weights should be applied to the material. Weights are provided specifically for this purpose.
A material like acrylic (perspex) is easier to debug if you leave a sheet of A4 paper under the material that you would like to cut. From the burned areas you can see how you might need to adjust the speed to get the curves cut.
It may be necessary to perform multiple passes of the laser over the material in order to cut all of the way through.
This occurs when you're trying to cut outside of the bed. Make sure your design fits in the bed displayed in the software and there aren't any bits protruding out of the frame.
We tend to have the software set up to cut relative to the starting point of the head, so you may need to change the origin that it's going to reference your design from, relative to the bed.
Download it again to the laser cutter.
Save the file as .AI. When you save, under “Options” make sure “Embed ICC Profiles” and “Use Compression” are both not selected. “Create PDF Compatible File” should be selected.
In the laser cutter software, select File→Import and choose the AI file.
Tested with Illustrator CS6 on Mac, worked perfectly.
The software doesn't understand more recent AI format files - recommendation is to save as Illustrator 8 format.
Save a DXF file, selecting AutoCAD DXF R12 to R14 format.
[Alignment is tricky. Please ask an experienced member for advice before attempting adjustments.]
Materials required: masking tape.
The beam path from the laser to the cutting material passes through four mirrors and one lens. For this guide we'll number the mirrors from the laser tube, so the mirror nearest the laser tube is mirror #1, and the last mirror which reflects the beam downward towards the lens is mirror #4.
Aligning the beam should usually only involve adjusting mirrors #2 and #3. We start nearest the laser tube, with mirror #2. First, get the masking tape, tear off a strip 10 cm long, repeat this 5 times sticking each piece on top of the last. We'll use this thick piece of tape as a target for the beam. It has to be thick so the laser doesn't burn all the way through it, getting ash on the mirrors. Stick the tape onto the o-ring surrounding mirror #3. Move the laser head all the way to the left. Close the lid and quickly tap the LASER button on the control panel. This will briefly activate the beam, leaving a scorch mark on the tape. Now move the laser head all the way to the right end of the bed and repeat. When mirror #2 is correctly aligned, the beam should hit the same place on the tape both times. The beam doesn't need to be dead centre - it just needs to be hitting the mirror in the same place every time. Adjust the screws on mirror #2 until this is the case. Remove the masking tape and stick it back on with a fresh piece of the tape in front of the mirror every time you repeat this step, to ensure you don't burn through the tape.
The process for adjusting mirror #3 is the same, except the masking tape will be covering the hole on the cutting head where the beam enters. Adjust until all of the beam is going into the hole with the head positioned at the front and back of the cutter.
Should this happen turn cutter off then on again. Then re-download the data back onto the cutter. This should solve this issue.
The protective film is safe to cut, and protects the acrylic from smoke and accidental scratching. For engraving, the top layer of film should be removed as it can affect the quality of the engraving.
Water tubing: silicone, 9.5mm OD, 6.3mm ID, 1.6mm wall
Water pump: 2500L/hour (max), 2.5m head (max)
Air compressor: Hailea ACO-328, 82L/min, pressure >0.035Mpa
Air assist tubing: PVC, 6mm OD, 4mm ID, 1mm wall (approx)
Mirrors: 20mm diameter
Lens: 20mm diameter, ZnSe, 50.8mm focus