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tools:laser_cutter

Laser Cutter

Hacksburg has a CAMFive CFL-CMA2416 CO2 Laser Cutter.

Machine Manual

Installation Manual

Specifications:

  • Bed size: 24 in x 16 in honeycomb worktable, rear pass-through, material up to 3/4“ thick
    • Actual working area is 600 mm x 400 mm
  • Laser Power: 80 Watts (80W Pro tube)
  • Engraving speed: 0-40 inch/s (0-1016 mm/s)
    • (May be limited to 400 mm/s with current setup)
  • Max cutting speed: 0-23 inch/s (0-584 mm/s)
    • (May be limited to 400 mm/s with current setup)
  • Resolution ratio: 4000 DPI
  • Precision tolerance: 0.0079 inch.
  • Control Software: SmartCarve 4.3.21 (Manual) (Download) (Drivers)
    • According to support, select 5th controller when prompted
    • Current version requires key dongle, previous version has demo available (Download)
  • Accessories: Compressed air assist, red dot pointer, refrigerated water chiller, fume exhaust

Updates

2/21/2018 The laser cutter is finally operational. A bit of a learning curve on the software and instructions for use have not been completed. Its really still in the testing phase.

Safety Info

Potential Hazards: Burns, Eye Damage, Fire, Toxic fumes

  • Only cut known, acceptable materials (untreated/unstained)
  • Certain materials give off extremely toxic fumes - For example, PVC, Vinyl, Chrome-tanned leather, and several other materials give off chlorine gas which can cause severe long-term health effects.
  • Always turn off laser before opening lid
  • Wear safety glasses if viewing laser through gaps in side of lid
  • Pause/Stop cut immediately if you see flames; if flame doesn't go out, use the spray bottle and then fire extinguisher
  • STOP ALL WORK IMMEDIATELY and ask for assistance if you SMELL, HEAR, or SEE anything unusual
  • Ensure all people and objects are out of the way of the laser head’s homing motion when you power on the machine
  • Check that all accessories turn on when you power on the machine
  • Excessive smoke/debris will damage the lens - Stop work if you notice unusual amounts
  • The laser beam to the eye can cause permanent retinal damage and even blindness; on the skin it can cause severe burns.

Cutting Parameters

A running list of cutting parameters is maintained in the Cutting Parameters article.

Startup and Operation Procedure

This is a work in progress!

  1. Check your materials before approaching cutter
    1. TO DO: better list, but for now, make sure you have looked up your specific material as being laser cutter compatible.
    2. NEVER chlorinated plastics (PVC, CPVC, vinyl, etc.)
    3. NEVER chrome tanned leathers
    4. NEVER unknown plastics; if you're not sure what it is, it doesn't go in the machine
    5. AVOID polycarbonate plastics (Lexan)
    6. AVOID high-density polyethelyne (HDPE)
    7. AVOID oil-tanned or dyed leathers
    8. AVOID unknown plywoods with unknown glues
    9. AVOID metals except in extremly thin films, make sure all layers are laser cutter safe
    10. Suggested for cutting and engraving:
      1. Acrylic plastic (cell-cast is better than extruded, but either will work)
        1. PMMA, also known as acrylic or acrylic glass as well as by the trade names Crylux, Plexiglas, Acrylite, Lucite, and Perspex
      2. Solid woods
      3. Paper, cardstock, cardboard, etc.
      4. Foam-core
    11. Suggested for engraving or frosting only:
      1. Glass (ordinary cheap (soda-lime, untempered) glass is best)
      2. Stone (flat, polished; granite or limestone supposedly are good choices)
  2. Check cutter and accessories for obvious damage or malfunction - if something looks damaged stop and contact board@hacksburg.org
  3. PC monitor on if not already (push button under bottom edge to right of center)
  4. PC on if not already (push button above Dell logo)
  5. Log into Hacksburg account on PC
  6. Start SmartCarve software on PC
    1. You will probably get a pop-up dialog asking if you want to allow SmartCarve from an unknown publisher to modify files. Say Yes. TO DO: Fix permissions so it doesn't do this. (May require installing outside of Program Files?)
  7. Create or load, import, adjust files etc.
    1. SmartCarve will only Load its own files. Use Import to bring in DXF or PLT files.
    2. See documentation elsewhere (pending) on compatible file formats, layer standards, etc.
    3. You will need to manually set the intensity and speed for any layer you use. See Cutting Parameters page for more info.
    4. The factory-suggested default is that layers 1-10 are for cutting, layers 11-14 are for fill, and layers 15-256 are for engraving.
      1. Note that the cutter appears to process layers in numerical order. Thus, if you follow the default suggestions, the cuts will happen before the engraving. This may not be what you want.
      2. The problem with the factory suggestions is that it is annoying to set up and proof, and ends up cutting before engraving. For simple files without fill, using 1 (blue) and 2 (green) for engraving, and 3 (red) for cutting, is easy to set up, proof, and use.
    5. Depending on the last user, some layers may start turned off. Double click the “No” under the Process column to toggle them back on (and, if needed, the No under Visible).
    6. Unless you are sure what you are doing, Positioning Mode in SmartCarve should be set to Mechanical Origin, and you should use the “Put Graph to Origin” function in SmartCarve to align the upper right of your file with the upper right of the work area (and the 0,0 of the laser cutter)
  8. Ensure that the water in the chiller fully covers the metal coil. If not, top it up from the jug of distilled water (usually found under the table)
  9. Rotate laser potentiometer to 0 (fully CCW)
  10. Wall power switch on (flip up white switch on wall)
  11. CamFive voltage regulator on (flip up red switch on regulator, far back corner of room)
  12. Check that white output power bar is on
    1. Push in blue button if red light is not lit
  13. Check that CamFive chiller is on
    1. Chiller should start automatically when powered up, screen should read “System Running”
    2. If not (e.g. says something about standby), press button to lower left of screen to put into Run mode
    3. Check that Set Point is 23º C and Temp Diff is 0.5º C
    4. If Water Temp is greater than about 24º C, wait until chiller has brought it down some
  14. Laser main power on (flip up blue power switch on right side of main laser unit)
  15. Insert laser key and turn 1/4 turn CW
  16. Wait for laser internal system to boot
    1. White internal work area light and red dot pointer should be on
  17. Note: The red dot alignment pointer, while technically a laser, is not what actually does the cutting and is harmless. References to “laser” in this document refer to the main 80W IR (invisble) laser, not the red dot.
  18. Check laser display screen for any error messages or problems
  19. Lift cover and load your media; secure if needed; close cover
    1. The usable (writable) area is 600 mm x 400 mm, or about 24” x 16“
    2. The honeycomb part of the bed is about 25 3/8” x 17 1/4“
    3. If everything is set correctly, the “Mechanical Origin” 0,0 point is in the upper right of the usable area
    4. Approximate offset of 0,0 from the upper right edge of the honeycomb is 22.25 mm from right, 27.75 mm from top
    5. Check the blue Laser Guides bin for jigs; use the ones labled 22.5 mm Right and 28 mm Top as needed
  20. Turn on Air Pump (middle red switch on right side of main laser unit)
  21. Adjust laser vertical clearance and focus
    1. Find “Laser Vertical Calibration Guide” (thick clear tile that should be in the blue Laser Guides bin, on or near the laser cutter)
    2. Place block on material, slide to near laser output nozzle
    3. While supporting the lower head with one hand, loosen the brass vertical adjust knob (turn CCW to loosen)
      1. Note: This is the horizontal knurled brass knob that sticks out straight to the right
      2. TO DO: Find a way to better distinguish this knob from others that should not be touched
    4. Slide calibration block under nozzle (while on top of your media)
    5. Gently lower the nozzle until it is nearly but not quite touching the calibration block
    6. You should hear the sound of the compressed air hissing louder, but not low enough that it stops
    7. Tighten the brass vertical adjust knob (turn CW to tighten, finger tight only. Do not put much force into it.)
    8. Note: the proper distance is 5 mm to 6 mm from the bottom of the nozzle to the closest part of the media for most purposes
    9. For certain sorts of area-fill engraving or frosting, it may be desirable to raise the laser somewhat above the focus area to increase the spot size. Research into this is a work in progress.
    10. TO DO: Cut a better primary calibration block and a second one for defocused engraving
  22. Test job for origin, size, location, interference, etc. without laser power
    1. Check that laser cover is fully closed
    2. Check that laser power is still Off (white button is up and not illuminated)
    3. In SmartCarve, check that positioning mode is set to Mechanical Origin (unless you are deliberately using Current Point mode)
    4. In SmartCarve, press Start button under Process
    5. Watch the laser head go through your job. Note that the red laser pointer is only an approximation of where the invisble IR cutting laser will go.
  23. Open ventilation window fully
    1. Unlatch two handles (rotate 1/4 turn CW each) and push out
  24. Exhaust fan on if not already (upper red rocker switch on right right side of main laser unit)
  25. Check that no precipitation (rain, snow) is blowing in. If the wind is strong from the wrong direction it may not be suitable to operate the laser. There is currently a wooden panel that can be propped over the opening if it's not too windy.
  26. When ready, push white circular Laser Power On/Off button in (lights up white)
  27. Adjust laser power potentiometer to desired power
    1. Current recommendation is to program your settings with the pot at 50%, so that you can adjust it up or down with the pot as needed.
    2. For cutting some materials, this may not be efficient as you will want full power
    3. TO DO: Quantify relationship between the power settings in various places (seems largely multiplicitave)
  28. Before clicking start, double check that chiller, air-pump, and exhaust blower are running, window is open, and laser lid is closed
  29. In SmartCarve, press Start button under Process
  30. Watch your job progress through the tinted front or top window of the laser cutter. If there are problems, use the Suspend or Stop buttons in SmartCarve as a first choice, the Start/Pause button on the laser control panel as a second choice. If the Emergency Stop button is used, you should reboot the unit after correcting the problem.
    1. In case of minor flare-ups, once the laser is stopped use the green spray bottle of water. Try not to get water onto any of the optical or mechanical components, and make sure everything is fully dry before continuing.

Shutdown Procedure

  1. Once final cut has completed and laser has stopped, press the white circular Laser Power On/Off button to deactivate the beam (switch back light should turn off)
  2. If your job produced some smoke or fumes, wait a minute for them to clear.
    1. It may be hlepful to lift the lid just slightly to suck in room air from the front over your media.
  3. Lift cover and unload your media; remove any debris remaining from cutting; close cover
  4. If you will be using it again soon, you can temporarily turn the exhaust fan (Blower) switch off (upper red switch on right of main laser unit) to reduce background noise while you edit (and allow you to close the window if the weather is bad). Remember to re-open the window and turn the exhaust fan (Blower) back on before starting again!
  5. When done for the day:
  6. Remove and return guides, alignment blocks, jigs, etc. to the blue Laser Guides bin or other proper storage location
  7. Rotate laser potentiometer to 0 (fully CCW)
  8. Turn off exhaust blower and air pump (upper and middle red rocker switches right side of laser cutter)
  9. Turn off laser unit by rotating key 1/4 turn CCW); remove laser key and return to storage location
  10. Laser main power off (flip down blue power switch on right side of unit)
  11. CamFive voltage regulator off (flip down red switch on front of voltage regulator)
  12. Wall power switch off (flip down white wall switch)
  13. Close and lock ventilation window
  14. Make sure any files are cleaned off the PC, or put in your userfiles folder under Hacksburg's “My Documents”
    1. e.g. C:\Users\Hacksburg\My Documents\userfiles\yourname
  15. Turn off light and leave door to laser room closed to reduce dust

Instructional Videos

tools/laser_cutter.txt · Last modified: 2018/03/14 07:09 by jdunson