12x20 Full Spectrum Laser

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As of May 2017

The laser is alive and well. Development of a tutorial guide is underway. For information, please contact Matt Plonski <matt at tralfazsolutions dot com>, Pete Soper <pete at soper dot com>, or Michelle Mayfield <molamoladiver at yahoo dot com>.

02 Laser-Table.jpg

Contents

Safety "First"

  • The laser can create a fire - Don't Leave The Machine Unattended During Your Run.
    • Materials such as acrylic, change their chemical structure due to the addition of the heat from the laser. Wood or wood-like materials are burned in order to etch or cut. In all cases, some light may be visible. Light at the point of lasing is generally okay if it stays with the motion of the laser. If a flame appears while the laser is in operation, you probably have the power set too high or the speed set too low. Andy flame that lingers is cause for concern.
    • Stop the laser by opening the lid, depressing the emergency stop button, or pausing the program. As needed due to the size of the flame
  1. blow out the flame
  2. snuff it out with a coat or a similar item
  3. call 911 alert others and evacuate the building.
  • Experience shows that vector cutting with the laser has the most potential to create an open flame
  • Acrylic, in all its different forms, has been shown to be especially flammable when vector cutting with the laser.
  • ALWAYS keep a properly maintained and inspected fire extinguisher on hand. The nearest extinguisher is WHERE?
  • NEVER operate or test the laser without the water pump.
  • NEVER attempt to operate the laser with the lid open or attempt to override the magnetic lid protection switch.
  • DO NOT view directly into the beam of the Red Laser Diode Pointer.
  • NEVER engrave or cut any material containing chlorine or hydrogen gas such as PVC or vinyl. Doing so will produce gasses that will corrode the interior of the laser

Laser Specifications

WANT TO HAVE TEXT UNDER HEADERS AUTO-CLOSED (EXCEPT FOR SAFETY HEADER)

  • Manufacturer and type: Full Spectrum Hobby Series 20x12
  • 40 Watt CO2 (carbon dioxide) Laser Tube
  • 20x12" cutting area
  • Cut materials like wood, acryllic, leather, fabric, and more, up to ¼ inch.
  • Engrave and mark glass, stone, tile, and more to create endless project possibilities.
  • US direct print software drivers work with any program that prints: CorelDraw, AutoCAD, Solidworks, Adobe Illustrator, PDF - even MS Word!
  • Optional rotary attachment for engraving round or curved objects.


Getting Started for Beginners

This section is intended for folks just getting to learn or just returning to using the Splat Space laser cutter. Expand the table below for step by step instructions.

Definitions

  • Raster – used to create photorealistic engravings by varying the power and speed to result in varying depth to create an image. Uses gray-scale to represent energy entincity used in the image: lighter colors wil recieve less laser energy and thus a lighter engraving. Think of Raster as a photor or jpg (pixel-based).
  • Vector - images made with lines (including lines, circles, etc. You can cut or etch with a vector file depending on the width: thin lines will cut (with appropriate power and speed), thicker lines will only engrave. Raster takes longer than vector, so if you're etching wider lines, use vector.
  • Power - relates to the output of the laser tube. A 100% power setting will create a deeper engraving while lower settings will create more surface level engravings.
  • Speed - Speed settings determine how quickly the laser head will move. For faster engravings, 100% is ideal. Lowering the speed will allow you to create deeper engravings as it allows the laser beam to be in contact with the material for a longer period of time.


Developing Your Design

  • If possible, use a computer that’s not connected to Splat Space equipment so its not tied up.
  • Suggested software programs to develop you design – others can be used too
    • Inkscape (freeware; already installed on Splat Space laser’s computer.
    • CorelDraw (requires license). Copy is available on the Splat Space laser’s computer
    • Xfig
    • Any software that produces a scaled vector graphic (SVG) file.
  • If needed to convert between software types, the following are recommended:
    • DXF AutoCAD 2000 – most versatile to talk to other software programs (line types are well defined therefore reducing changes in design after loading to laser’s computer

Turning on the Machine and Burning

Turning on the Machine Instructions
01 Laser-Room-Corner.jpg
02 Laser-Table.jpg
  • The laser is in the back right corner of the makerspace main room.
  • There is a switch for the duty light over the computer
  • In the second photo, you can see the PC, laser cutter, and various tools.
  • The power switches are on top of the desk just behind the monitor.
  • The computer is under the table (lurking in the shadows).
04 Laser-Fan-Cooling-Airpump-Power-Switch.jpg
  • Turn on laser via the small power cord on the desk (operates the air pump, water cooler, exhaust fan and laser. If any of these don’t activate, seek help.)
  • Large power cord turns on the computer.
  • Although the air pump is noisy, you must always run it while running the laser. If you're not using the laser (i.e., only using the computer at this time), you don't have to have the water pump or air vacuum on.
  • You can also stack small boxes in front of the pump (but don't close it off completely) to reduce the noise.
05 Wake-Screensaver.jpg
06 Windows.jpg
  • If the PC has not been used recently the screen may be blank. Pressing enter should wake it up.
  • If it comes up to the expected Windows screen, you're good to go to the next step (opening files)
07 Linux-desktop.jpg
09 Boot-Selection-Wondows-Choice.jpg
  • This PC also runs Linux some times and this is what it's desktop looks like. If you see this, you'll have to restart the computer to switch to Windows. The upper right corner of the Linux desktop has a "power" icon that allows a restart. (An additional dialog is put up and you have to select the left "restart" option to avoid the action reverting to shutdown!)
  • Do a hard restart - computer is under the desk.
  • After the "Think" logo screen, you'll see this screen. Use the down arrow key to get to the bottom "Windows" OS choice, then press enter or wait a few seconds to automatically select the highlighted row.
10 Retina-Engrave-Launch-Icon.jpg
  • From the Windows desktop, first launch the laser cutter software called "Retina Engrave"..
11-Retina-Not-Homed.jpg
12 Home-Button.jpg
  • Once on, verify that the laser is connected to the computer and the head is in the Home Position
  • If it does not say "connected" there may be an Ethernet wire loose, or the laser itself may be turned off (although the power is on). Double check the connection of the cables.
  • If the screen on the front far right of the laser is not on, depress the emergency stop to turn the machine on.
  • Notice in the lower left an indication the program is connected in this photo to the laser cutter but is not homed. This means the laser cutter doesn't know where the beam is positioned.
  • To home the head, Click on the home icon on the top menu to cause the beam to move to the home position (in the back, right corner of the screen).
  • Verify the indicator in the lower left of the monitor shows "Homed"
03 Micrometer.jpg
  • It's a good idea to measure your material thickness to set cutting parameters.
  • Micrometers can be found WHERE?

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Tips for Advanced Users

Under Development

  • Using the Rotary Attachmet
  • Vector Engraved Text
  • Raster Engraving


Full Spectrum Support Information

Todo List

  • Get the ethernet cables and switch, et al AWAY FROM THE LASER so that when folks are forced to do custom connections they don't render the laser unusable by disturbing its connection to the PC. A separate, dedicated switch with a well marked connection to the wired ethernet that is well hidden behind or under the laser cutter desk is in order, with the "regular" ethernet switch that people are modifying from time to time conspicuous but several feet away from the desk.