Back to MEAM.Design - Laser Cutting - Laser Usage Guide

Laser Usage Guide

1. Hardware

a. Turn ON the exhaust fan by pressing the green button on the large gray box toward the back left of the room. It should now get rather loud.
b. Check to see which lasers are not out of order and choose the one you want to use.
c. Check that desired laser is ON. If not, press the switch on the back right corner of either machine.
d. Choose appropriate computer to print to the chosen laser. If you are looking straight at the lasers, the back two computes control Laser 1 while the two front computers control the Right and the Left lasers respectively.
e. Finally, log onto computer using normal SEAS account.

You should NOT introduce your stock material into the laser bed until the very end of step three (Remember always to lower the bed before placing your stock).

2. Software

a. OPEN Open your DWG file in SolidWorks DWG Editor 2009 (can be found under MEAM Shop Software on the PCs in the laser cutting lab).
b. SET UP Configure the laser by selecting File>Print Setup..., select the Laser (PLS 4.75) from the drop-down menu, then click the Properties... button.
c. MANUAL CONTROL Universal Lasers provides a Materials Database tab, however this list does not include our materials. (acrylic or MDF). We are going to have to enter the printer settings manually.

First, click on the 'Manual Control'' tab. As soon as the tab opens, highlight every color and go to the drop down menus on the right.

Set the Mode to Skip

Make sure that:

1. Z-Axis is set to OFF
2. Flow is set to air
3. Flow rate is set to 100%

To confirm the settings, you must click the BIG , round Set button.

This is one of the most important steps in setting up the lasers. If you do not set these properly, you will really damage the machine. So, please take a minute and double check these settings.

(Note: The blue highlight on all of the materials should disappear once you click the set button and you should see the desired settings.)

d. PENS Now you must set the "Mode","Power", "Speed", and “PPI” settings for each color.

We recommend that you set the following color code for colors:

SKIP for black
VECT for RED (vector cutting)
VECT for YELLOW (vector etching)
RAST for GREEN (raster etching)
SKIP for everything else

(Note: if you have more colors, just set them up accordingly)

Use the drop menu to first set the "Mode". (VECT, RAST, RAST/VECT, or SKIP)

Obtain the rest of the settings from the Cutting Parameters link and use the sliders or the text boxes to introduce the numbers in the corresponding columns.

NOTE: Vector cutting will only work if the weight of the line you are cutting is set to the minimum (0.05)

Again, you must click the BIG , round Set button to confirm the cutting parameters for each color.

Click "OK","OK" when complete

e. PRINT Select File>Print......

In the Print Area section, select the radio button for Extents

In the Print Scale section, make sure that the check-box for Fit print are to size of page is turned OFF, choose appropriate units (in or mm), and set the Printed units and Drawing units to be 1.00 to 1.00.

Click the Print button to send file to the ULS Control Panel.

NOTE: On the new laser cutters, the jobs are stored on the computer, rather than on the machine, and we must open another software to actually start the job.

f. OPEN Click on little triangle toward the right of the task bar on the bottom of the computer screen. Click on the red icon to open the ULS Control Panel.

NOTE: If you do not see one of the colors that you specified, it is becuase vector cutting will only work if the weight of the line you are cutting is set to the minimum (0.05). So, go back to DWG and change it. There should be a thickness, or weight, drop down menu near the menu where you change the color.

BEWARE: The ULS Control Panel has a lot of active keys that actually move the laser cutter head. Do not click anything on this window until you are instructed to during Step 3.

3. Focus

a. OPEN Walk over to the laser and open the top door. Make sure there is no material in laser bed. (DO NOT PLACE YOUR MATERIAL IN THE LASER YET!).
b. LOWER Navigate to and enter the Z menu on the LCD Screen. (The laser head will not move)

Use the arrow keys to lower the bed until you are confident you can fit your stock on the table without hitting the cone.

Once the bed is low enough, introduce your stock. Make sure it is lays flat on the honey comb.

c. POSITION Go back to the ULS Control Panel on the computer screen. Click the Relocate View tool (which is button with four arrows pointing out of the center in the middle of the horizontally organized buttons).

Click on any of the corners of you part to drag it around in the bed and position it where you want. Here comes the awesome, yet dangerous, part.

Click on the Focus View tool (located directly to the left of the Relocate View tool). This allows you to position the laser cone directly over some point in the laser bed space.

When you move your cursor, you will get two blue preview lines. Click on some point near the corner of your piece and the laser head will move over there. Make sure there is a gap between the cone and your material since the laser will move really quickly and you do not want it to hit the stock.

This position will be where you set your Z height.

d. SET Z Grab the focus tool (the white tube screwed into a black base) which is located at one of the sides of the laser. Place the focus tool on top of the material so it sits just next to the laser head. Bring the bed up a little until the face of the tool can reach the outside part of the laser housing.

Use the up and down arrow keys to move the bed up or down. Depending on which setting you are in, the bed will move rather quickly. Once you get close to lining up the laser head with the ridge on the tool, you will want to press the Right arrow key to move into fine mode.

Continue adjusting the bed height until the edge of the laser head body aligns well with the ledge on the focus tool. (We recommend moving at 10 thousands of an inch, the middle digit on the read out, when setting Z).

Remove the focus tool. You do not need to exit the Z menu.

4. Print

a. Play Close the top door and press the PLAY button on the machine to start your job.

You can also start the job from the ULS Control Panel on the computer, but it is better if you press the button on the machine so that you can see what is going on inside the laser cutter and could potentially stop the job in case of an emergency.