Please read the Space Rules first, especially the sections on "safety" and "use of machinery".
This page is intended as a reminder and does NOT replace a personal introduction to the lasercutter.
DO NOT use the lasercutter without having received instructions and official permission from an authorized person.
If you break the rules layed out on this page, your permission can be revoked.
- contact: @felix, @trial.error, @lorxor to receive a personal introduction
- 1 Overview
- 2 Important Notes
- 3 Materials
- 4 Safety & Fire Extinguishers
- 5 Tutorial
- 6 Maintenance
Our laser machine is a 30W Epilog Zing laser. The size of the work grid is 30x60cm, which also corresponds to the maximum dimensions the laser can cut/engrave. Any workpiece that is larger than these dimensions will not fit into the machine. Depending on the material, the cutting depth can be up to 6mm.
- DO NOT leave the lasercutter unattended for more than ~2min (you may use the bathroom or kitchen, but don't leave the space for a lunch break!)
- DO NOT lasercut materials that will damage/corrode the laser (e.g. PVC/vinyl)
- Make sure you DO NOT touch the lens or any mirrors at any time!
- Always document your lasercutting minutes in the sheet provided.
- Always leave the ventilation running for ~10min after your last job was finished before switching it off.
- If you don't use the lasercutter for a while, switch off the ventilation in between jobs.
- Neighbours don't like the noise: no lasercutting between 19:30-9:00 and on Sundays. No lasercutting for more than 2 hours in one go. Take a 42min break. Also check the time-sheet for the previous user time (wait a while if necessary.)
- DO NOT switch off laser or pull the power plug while the laser cutter is in operation!
- In case of an emergency, follow the procedure as describe in step 6: emergency abort.
It is important to only use materials that are suitable for lasercutting. Some materials, like vinyl/PVC give off chlorine gas, which corrodes the laser machine (and your lungs). These kind of damages will accumulate over time and cause major financial losses.
Our lasercutter can cut/engrave materials with a maximum size of 30x60cm and up to approx. 6mm thickness, depending on the material.
- If you're not sure about a material, do a quick research online. Be aware that there are different types of lasercutters that can handle different materials. If in doubt please ask @felix, @lorxor, @trial.error for help.
materials you may use
Be aware that some of these materials catch fire easily, such as wood, paper, or cotton. Make sure you don't overpower the laser and try to use the lowest power setting possible.
- wooden materials:
- birch plywood / thin plywood
- solid wood (free of oils or resins, since they easily catch fire)
- paper and cardboard
- acrylic / PMMA
- 100% cotton
- glass (engraving only)
materials you may NOT use
- Leather and artificial leather that contains chromium (VI)
- Carbon fibers (Carbon)
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
- Polyvinyl butyrale (PVB)
- Polytetrafluoroethylenes (PTFE /Teflon)
- Beryllium oxide
- Any materials containing halogens (fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine and astatine), epoxy or phenolic resins
- anything with added flame-retardant
- You may use the common materials from the rack. If you do, please donate to the unicorn.
- If you use your own material, please store it in your member box or take it home if it does not fit.
- Labelling your stuff and leaving it in the machine room is not acceptable. If you find materials you would like to use, but there is a personal name written on it: please feel free to use it. Your personal stuff is not safe here!
- Please clean up after yourself.
- Make sure the material rack stays tidy. Do not leave stuff lying around on the window sill or other places.
- Throw rubbish or small left over pieces into the rubbish bin provided, and please empty the bin in the backyard when you're done.
Safety & Fire Extinguishers
- DO NOT leave the lasercutter unattended. Makespaces have burnt down because someone started the lasercutter and went out to get some lunch. There was a motor failure, the laser continued to exert power on the same spot, the workpiece and machine caught fire.
- It can happen that your workpiece throws some flames while being lasercut. Especially for easily flammable materials like wood, paper/cardboard or cotton fabric this happens quite frequently. Do not be alarmed. Normally the flames are pulled off by the ventilation and stop immediately when the laser stops cutting. It can, however, leave some black marks on your workpiece (consider choosing a lower power setting).
- If, however, your workpiece or the machine seriously catches fire which you cannot extinguish by hand, we do have CO2 fire extinguishers stored at several locations at xhain. The closest one is in the machine room in the corner behind the door. The next one is in the main room under the work bench.
Make yourself acquainted with the locations and use of fire extinguishers.
If you had to use an extinguisher (even for a small amount):
- After use, DO NOT put the extinquisher back to its original place. Leave it on the floor.
- Please advise @felix, @trial.error or @lorxor or the #general chat, so we can check if we need to replace the extinguisher. (An extinguisher is only useful when it is not empty!)
fire extinguisher in machine room
fire extinguisher under workbench in main room
The laser machine has two main safety interlocks, which, when triggered, stops the laser cutter immediately. Be aware, that both the motor movements and the laser pointer are unaffected by the interlock.
- The personal safety interlock is triggered by:
- opening the top glass flap,
- opening the front flap.
If you want to lasercut an xhain keychain as a test object, you can download the files from github.
Step 1: file preparation with Inkscape
- Create a vector graphic file (*.svg) with a software tool of your choice (try Inkscape) and set the page scale and dimensions to mm. The maximum page size should be 30x60cm.
- Use solid lines (thickness is irrelevant) for cutting with a solid colour (e.g. red).
- Use solid filled areas for engraving with a different colour (e.g. black).
- Position your drawing in the top left corner of the page.
- Copy this file to the computer next to the lasercutter (no password for the computer is required).
Step 2: Visicut software
Step 3: get the laser ready
Once you are happy with the position and placement of the laserpointer and your workpiece, you can proceed to the next step to begin lasercutting.
Step 4: start lasercutting
Step 5: pausing/aborting the job
If something went wrong and you are not happy with what's happening, you can pause the job by pressing the pause button. If you don't want to mess up your home reference, then wait for the ongoing movement to finish.
- You can then either open the door and fix your workpiece, then continue where you left off by pressing "play",
- or you can abort the job by pressing the return button. The laser will then return to the home position.
Step 6: emergency abort
In case of an emergency, simply open the glass lid.
- If your workpiece caught fire (e.g. can happen with cotton fabric), you can quickly open the lid which will stop the lasercutter immediately (interlock safety). You can then stop the flames. In the mean time, be aware that the machine will continue its movement with the laser pointer in place.
- If you close the lid the lasercutter will begin cutting again!
- If you want to abort the job completely, press pause (then wait for movement to finish) and return.
Step 7: job is finished
Step 8: final steps
Please try to keep the lasercutter clean and clean up any leftover pieces or layers of dust after yourself. Make sure you don't touch any optical surfaces (mirrors/lenses) at any time.
If you feel the performance of the laser has dropped, and you suspect the lenses and mirrors may be covered with a layer of dirt, DO NOT clean them yourselves. You may also check the maintenance log (paper list on the lasercutter shelve) to see how long it has been since the last maintenance job.
- contact @trial.error or @lorxor to request maintence of the optical components.