This is a work in progress! This is meant to be a guide. It is likely to change as more information is found out and / or tested.

Silvertail A0 Laser cutter induction

This document gives an overview of how to use the JustAddSharks Silvertail A0 laser cutter and hints for successful operation. For more information about acceptable materials, user manual, maintainers, inductors and other relevant info, look on this page.

draft_safety_notes.odt

  • Maximum power: 75%
  • Do not leave laser cutting unattended
  • use ONLY approved materials
  • BE AWARE of potential collisions when the laser cutter head moves. Press RED BUTTON if any collision occurs.
  • Circumvention of the RFID system without notification of the committee may result in revocation of Hackspace membership.

Failure to follow guidelines may result in your RFID card being revoked and you will not be allowed to use the laser cutter.

  • The laser cutter has been turned off for quite a while and no other accessories are on.
  • You have a pre-prepared .DXF file available on a USB stick.Suggested programs to use: Draft sight (available on the machine), Inkscape (free download), CorelDraw (found to be reliable). Recommended to save in AutoCAD 2013 .DXF format or AutoCAD 2008 .DXF format and as an exploded design (i.e. don't join the line segments together).
  • You are using approved materials.
  • You will not leave the laser cutter unattended.
  • You know where the fire extinguishers are and how to use them before starting anything.
  • Dust cover is on the laser cutter.
  • Turn on computer.
    • Power button on the computer.
    • Power button on the monitor.
  • Prepare the file as detailed below.
  • Take the plastic cover off of the laser cutter.
  • Turn on the hardware by pressing the switch on the plug labelled “LASER”. Air extractor, water chiller and water pump should all turn on.
    • Check for working operation, i.e. no warning sounds and displays as expected. Any problems, turn off immediately, leave a note on the machine and send a message to the mailing list.
    • Leave chiller running for a few minutes to ensure the water is cool. Check the display on the chiller for temperature / problems - should read about 20C.
    • Air extraction tube (the silver ducting) should contract a little bit to show the extractor is working properly.
  • Once everything has been checked, swipe your RFID card over the sensor to start the laser cutter.
    • Laser cutter will take a while to start up (about ten seconds). Don't try to use the laser during this time.
  • Send the job to the laser cutter as detailed below in “How to prepare the job”.
  • Ensure nothing is on the actual laser cutter bed.
  • Press “Datum” on the laser cutter control panel to move the laser head to its home position.
  • Put material to be cut onto laser cutter bed.
  • Use the focus tool to ensure correct height above the work surface
    • Rest focusing tool on the ledge part of the laser lens assembly.
    • Move the laser head up or down so that the tool just touches the work surface by using one of the following:
      • On the control panel of the laser cutter itself
        • Press the “Z” button (“Z-AXIS OPERATE” should appear in the LCD)
        • Press the up and down buttons to set your zero position
  • Use the red dot laser diode to indicate where the laser cut will start. N.B. The dot is close but might not be perfectly accurate.
  • Ensure emergency stop button is up by twisting it in the direction of the arrows.
  • On the control panel of the laser cutter, select the file by pressing the enter button on the control panel.
  • Then choose “Set Logic Org” to set the laser cutter start position (should be top right of job).
  • To check outer dimension of job, select “Test” and the laser head will move around the perimeter of the current job.
  • When everything is ready, press “Start” at the bottom of the right-hand control panel to begin the job.
  • Check the laser current meter reading is under 26mA and Wait for the job to complete. Do not open the lid of the laser cutter for another 20 seconds to allow the fumes to be extracted.
  • Retrieve your materials from the laser cutter.
  • Leave the chiller and extractor running after the job to ensure the laser tube gets cooled down and fumes are extracted.
  • Turn off the hardware.
    • Swipe RFID card over reader to turn off laser cutter.
    • Press the switch on the plug that says LASER to turn off chiller, water pump and extractor.
    • Shut down the computer properly (“Start” → “Shutdown”).
    • Turn off the monitor.
  • Put the cover back over the laser cutter.
  • Turn on computer.
    • Power button on the computer.
    • Power button on the monitor.
  • Start LaserCut 5.3
    • Click on the third icon on the toolbar at the bottom left next to the Start button
    • Click on “File” → “Import…”
    • Select your .DXF file to import
    • If you have many lines, select all the relevant lines then “Tools(O)” → “Unite lines” to optimize the line paths. A tolerance of 0.1mm is recommended so that any features that are < 0.1mm apart will be joined together.
    • There are various zoom functions on the top tool bar.
      • “Zoom to table” changes the zoom level to show the entire bed size.
      • “Zoom to all object” changes the zoom level to all selected objects.
    • Make sure “Immediate” is checked (near the bottom right of the control panel on the right hand side).
    • Click “Laser(L)” → “Set laser origin” to specify the top right of the job. The laser will start cutting from the blue dot on the screen.
    • Click on “Set knife origin” (5th to last button in the ribbon underneath the menu bar) to top right of image.
    • To make a new layer, select all the objects you want in the new layer and then change the colour by selecting a colour at the bottom of the LaserCut application.
    • For each layer:
      • Select “Cut” or “Engrave” by clicking on the layer to cut or engrave.
        • Cut options
          • “Speed” is how fast the laser head moves (possibly in mm/s, inadvisable to go above 300 mm/s due to not smooth operation).
          • “Power” is how much power the laser will be working at
            • Min 10%, the laser wont fire below that.
            • Max 75%, higher power reduces the laser life.
          • “Corner power” is how much power the laser will be working at at the corners. Reduce this by about 5%-10% or Power above to stop the laser from applying too much power at the corners.
          • “Overlap” - Useful for cutting thicker materials. (Possibly measure in mm measured away from original cut)
        • Engrave options
          • “Speed” - as above. Probably want this value to be relatively high.
          • “Power” - as above. Probably want this relatively low.
          • “scan gap” - distance between each engraved line. Lower means smoother shading but also longer job time.
      • Ensure a tick in the “Output” box (might need to scroll the layers box) to ensure that operation is performed on that layer.
      • “Times” is how many passes the laser cutter will perform of the current layer. Useful for thicker materials.
      • Change action order by selecting a layer and then “Up” or “Down”. Starts at top and works down. Perform engraves before cuts to ensure accuracy.
    • Send the job to the laser cutter after turning it on. Software fails if you try to send the job to the cutter before it is on and ready for it.
      • Click on “Download” at bottom right of panel on right.
      • Click “Del all” to remove any jobs from the laser cutter's memory so that your job won't overflow the cutter's memory.
      • Click “Download current” to send the current job to the cutter.
  • Prepare the .DXF file as best you can before working with the laser cutter to minimize any extra time needed.
  • 75% power is ideal for prolonging the lifespan of the laser tube. i.e. 26mA maximum current on the meter near the control panel of the laser cutter.
  • <10% power won't make the laser work so the material won't be cut / engraved at all.
  • Reduce power for “Corner power” (double-click on layer colour to change this value) by 5%-10% due to laser head slowing down at the corners.
  • Datum (the starting position) is in the back right of the bed if the front right is where the control panel is located.
  • It's recommended to align the long axis of your engrave operation with the short axis of the cutter. It can drastically reduce engrave times.
  • Kerf is about 0.15mm to 0.2mm.
  • You will not be able to turn on the laser cutter within 30 seconds of turning it off to avoid damage to the laser cutter. Similarly, you can't turn off the laser cutter within 10 seconds of starting it up.
  • Adjustments to procedure as more things are discovered or incorporated.
  • Other things that haven't been mentioned yet.
  • archive/silvertail_a0_laser_cutter_induction
  • Last modified: 12 days ago
  • by michthom