- 1 General
- 2 About
- 3 Manual
- 4 Restrictions
- 5 Laser Odor
- 6 Important Laser Guidelines
- 7 Where to find manuals, information, drivers, and software
- 8 Acceptable File Formats
- 9 How to use Autodesk Fusion 360 to create laser cutter files
- 10 How to use the Laser in Table mode
- 11 How to use the Laser in Rotary Mode
- 12 Future DIY Upgrades
- 13 Troubleshooting
- 14 Maintenance Log
- 15 Maintenance Schedule
- 16 Maintenance Tips
- 80 Watt Laser
- 1200 mm x 900 mm cutting area (~4'x3')
- Currently configured with a Standard 55mm Focal Depth lens.
- This is a "Compromise" lens: Okay at cutting, okay at engraving, but great at neither.
- We have a "Premium" 55mm lens in stock also.
This laser cutter is restricted to member-use only. It is only operable through RFID badge access, and names & times of members' usage will be kept in a log. This accountability is an effort to maintain responsible use of the laser--see "Laser Odor" below. Remember: use your LVL1 key card to activate the laser for cutting AND lock out the laser when you are finished. Failure to swipe your card a second time can leave you logged into the system (which you will still be held responsible for).
VERY EXTREMELY IMPORTANT LASER ODOR GUIDELINES
Laser fumes are normally vented through the window and out a shaft. Outdoors, the fumes do not bother residents. If you start to smell odor, then the fumes are backing up into the space and will soon bother our neighbors.
IF YOU NOTICE AN ODOR beginning to fill the space, IMMEDIATELY DISCONTINUE LASER USE.
Similarly, when you finish your project, wait a few moments before opening the laser cutter to allow the fumes to exit.
Our landlords have made it clear that another odor complaint from our neighbors will result in permanent prohibition of the laser.
Important Laser Guidelines
- Do not use the laser without being trained. Ask questions. If you have any doubts, refrain from lasering.
- If the laser is moved, it must be recalibrated. Laser calibration is a long and difficult process.
- Install the laser tube with the water outlet facing up.
- The laser is intentionally pulled a couple feet from the wall for access.
- The laser control software will not work without the USB dongle installed. This dongle is a $250 device.
- Do not set power higher than 85% or lower than 10%. Higher power simply saturates the power supply and results in no benefit. Lower power does not lase.
- If a fire begins, open the laser lid immediately. This interrupts power to the laser.
Where to find manuals, information, drivers, and software
- Rabbit Laser's Website
- The manual located on the computer table to the right of the laser
- The top box of this web page has Ruida Controllers and RDWorks V8 Software
- Download your own copy of RDWorks V8 from here to design your own files at home to bring to the space for cutting and engraving
- RDWorks Learning Lab, 144-video playlist
- Russ Sadler, The Laser Man, 204-video playlist
Acceptable File Formats
- DXF (Autocad 2002 or 2004 format) (for vector cutting)
- PLT (for vector cutting)
- BMP (engraving only)
- JPG (engraving only)
- NOT SVG. SVG is NOT usable.
How to use Autodesk Fusion 360 to create laser cutter files
LVL1 member John Simpson created a how to guide on creating files acceptable by the laser cutter (.plt) using Autodesk Fusion 360 and Inkscape which are both free software programs. The advantage of using Fusion 360 to create these files versus Inkscape is the ability to dimension your part quickly and easily through sketches. The writeup document is linked below: How to use Autodesk Fusion 360 to create laser cutter files
How to use the Laser in Table mode
- Check the laser bed for any obstructions (abandoned material, objects left by previous users such as magnets, etc) and remove them. Also, check the area of the print bed where you will be placing your material - if there are small bits of material left from previous cuts, your material will not sit level and will not cut or engrave cleanly!
- Power on the laser by turning the key on the front of the display panel. The water chiller (on the floor, lower right) should turn on with a red LCD displaying the water temperature, and you should be able to hear the fans and pump start up. If the chiller's green "normal" light does not come on, or if the red "alarm" light is lit, do not use the laser.
- Use your LVL1 Member Access Key to turn on the laser by swiping it across the reader (the indicator light beside it will go from "red" to "green" and there will be a "beep").
- Home the X and Y Axes by pressing the "X-Y 0" button. If the laser doesn't home by moving to the back-right corner, ensure that the machine is not in "Jog" mode. If any menu item is highlighted to the right, the machine is not in "Jog" mode. Hit "Esc" on the display several times until the LCD menu shows entires for "File/Speed/Power" then press "Esc" until no menu items are highlighted. Then attempt to home the X and Y axes again.
- Jog the Z Axis until your material will fit under the laser head by pressing the up and down arrows to raise or lower the print bed.
- Jog the home switch of the laser head over your material using the up/down/left/right arrows above the "X-Y 0" button. Ensure that the small limit switch/plunger to the left of the laser head is over the material to be lased; therwise, the depth for the laser focus point will not be correct, and the head or plunger could impact the material when the head assembly is moving during the lasing process.
- Home the Z Axis by pressing the "Z 0" button. The Z axis will automatically back off to the correct focus point. Verify that the plunger did contact the material to be lased!
- Open the "Laser Cut" software on the laser PC (snowflake icon).
- Import your project, or draw a test shape. (It is HIGHLY recommended that you test your cut settings on scrap material before attempting a real cut).
- In the upper right-hand corner, set the laser power and speed settings. Use the settings in the manual as a guideline.
- Click "Calculate" to generate G-Code.
- Click "Download" to send G-Code to the laser.
- On the "Download" menu, press, "Delete All," followed by "Download Current." This ensures that your project is the only one loaded on the laser.
- Jog the laser head to the upper-left corner of your intended cut area.
- Press "Esc" then "Anchor". The LCD should display "SET LOGIC ORG". Press "Enter" then "Esc". (Alternatively, you can simply start without setting an anchor. For this to work, any existing anchor would have to be canceled: press "Esc" then "Anchor" and select the cancel option on the LCD, if one shows up.)
- Press the "Test" button to see the area that will be cut by the laser. Ensure that your material is lined up correctly.
- Close the lid of the laser.
- Press "Start" to begin cutting. DO NOT LEAVE THE LASER UNATTENDED WHILE IT IS OPERATING!
- When your laser operation is complete, PLEASE leave the lid of the cutter closed for a few minutes to extract as much of the smoke or fumes from the space as possible.
- When you remove your material, please take a moment and remove any small bits of excised material from the print bed - Try to leave the bed in better shape than you fouund it!
- When you are finished with the laser cut software, Don't forget to move your files to your member folder on the Z-drive of the file server or to your own USB key or SD card. Similarly, please cancel an anchor point, if you have made one.
- Make sure to swipe your Member Key again after you are finished to log out!
How to use the Laser in Rotary Mode
- NOTE: This is advanced--do not attempt without training!**
Using the Roller-Type Rotary attachment... Our customer was very interested in purchasing our laser machine, and also interested in using the roller-style rotary attachment.
- Make sure the main door is up and safety switches will NOT allow the laser to fire. **
- Move the worktable down such that the attachment and materials will surely fit underneath the focal head assembly. When you put the rotary attachment down in the work area, be careful not to damage the honeycomb bed. Some customers put a plywood insert in place of the honeycomb bed. You can see in this picture that I used some corrugated plastic board to protect the honeycomb bed from getting dented by me as I adjust the roller attachment. The tail-stock end of the rotary attachment is a free-rolling support for the material to engrave onto.
- Adjust the tailstock end of the attachment so it is at the right distance from the head. This is to ensure the material fits securely on the roller attachment. The tailstock end is needed to help support the material and the front end of the roller attachment drives the motion. The front end of the material needs adequate weight to make sure the roller o-rings keep traction during the cutting motions. Extra*** It is very neat to engrave wine glasses, but they often do not have the weight needed to keep traction. I usually press "Silly Putty" into the wine glass to give it more weight and disperse the heat as not to shatter the thin glass.
- Look at how the rotary attachment sits under the Y Axis Rail. Align the rotary attachment to be in line with the rail. We need for the laser to hit in the "top-dead-center" of the material that you have on the rotary attachment.
- Now to make sure the laser will be in focus. Move the focal assembly to the right end of the material and bring the worktable up to make a focused position. Be careful not to run the material too far up.
- Move the focal assembly to the tail-stock end of the material and adjust the rollers up to make a focused position. Be careful not to run the material too far up. The flashlight in this picture will have a long distance that could be engraved, but some materials may only present a short distance that could be in focus.. (example: short wine glasses) * This picture shows the knob for adjusting the height of the tail-stock end of the rotary attachment.
- Now that the rotary attachment is sitting in place, it needs to be connected to the machine. The motor connector and wires need to be routed through the square hole and taken to the motor amplifier. This picture shows the square hole from inside the laser work area. This picture shows the square hole from inside the electronics panel. *** Make sure the power is OFF before you remove the motor wires. Tie the wires off to the side. Place the wire connector (for the rotary attachment) onto the connector of the Y-Axis amplifier. Do not push too hard... It helps to slightly wiggle the connector as you push it on. After everything is reconnected, turn the power back on.***
- Please use the below pictures as a guide on how to unplug and plug in the wiring - remember to turn the machine OFF before getting into the wiring
- This picture shows the appropriate wire to unplug to turn off power to the Yaxis Media:Laser-RotaryWiring.jpg
- This picture shows where to connect the rotary tool on the amplifier (it's on the far right, and then plug in the two pronged connector)Media:Laser-RotaryWiringYaxis.jpg
- Now we need to adjust the software settings to produce images that are truly the correct proportion and not stretched in the Y axis direction. We expect that the computer system is turned on, software is already installed, and the LaserCut 5.3 is working correctly. Start LaserCut 5.3 with a fresh project. Select the "File" in the menu and then select "Machine-Options" .. or press Ctrl and J buttons together for the hotkey function. The "MachineOptions" window will turn on.
- Select the settings for the "Worktable" ... seen here in the picture as highlighted in blue.
- Notice the current value for the Y-Axis [Pulse Unit] is 0.007943125. This is the default distance that each pulse command will move the laser machine. This value is used for the linear rails.
- Change the value for the Y-Axis [Pulse Unit] to 0.01823829. This is the "approximate" value for the drive end of the rotary axis. This number might be different depending on the diameter of the O-rings in your rotary attachment.
- Save the changes to the "Machine Options" that we have just made. Simply press "OK" .. you should not need to insert a new password.
- Close the "Machine Options" window. *** Your are now ready to start a new project with the rotary axis. ** Here is an example of how I engraved my name around the top of the Maglight flashlight. Please notice that the flashlight has two obvious diameters. The diameter of the flashlight head at the drive wheels is larger than the body of the flashlight. We cannot turn the flashlight around because we can't get it to be level that way... We must use the flashlight with the bulb at the drive end of the rotary attachment. The problem is "How do we set up the rotary attachment for us to have finished pictures that aren't stretched?" It is pretty easy to do trial and error to get a "square picture", but let's do it with math. Measure the diameter of the drive end (D1) and diameter of the body (D2). Now use your calculator to find D2/D1 * 0.01823829 = (new YAxis Pulse value). Enter this number into the Machine Options table, save settings, .. and ready to engrave the new section of the flashlight. Please remember that you will need to put the original Y-Axis Pulse value back into the "Machine Options" section before you can use the laser machine in normal mode (without the rotary axis).
- Questions: **
Q) I did the installation, but all the graphics are backwards or upside-down. What to do to fix this? A) Go the the electrical connector of the stepper motor. There should be four wires going into a green plastic connector. Turn the machine power off. Loosen the screws for the two wires at the end of the connector (B+ and B-), Switch the position of these two wires. Tighten the screws back down. Turn the machine power back on. The rotary attachment will now go the other direction when given a command to move.
Future DIY Upgrades
- High pressure air assist using shop air
- Design instructions in manual
- Rotary Enlongening
- A custom aluminum bottom plate for the rotary would easily add length.
- If "Immediate" mode doesn't seem to work properly, try downloading the config again.
- From the "Download" menu, press the "Download Config" button. The laser will be unresponsive for a few moments. Wait until the menu responds to input before uploading your laser file.
- If your laser engraving turns out to be in perfect circles instead of the full area, there is an option to put small circles in an engraved area, to fix this:
- Create your your engrave area/shape and select it
- Double click on the speed/power area to the top right of the screen on the line for engraving
- when a dialog box pops up Click on the "..." button to the right of the radio box for "Blow"
- Take the checkmark out of the boxes for Fill Circle & Engrave Circle
- 8/23/2014 - Received Laser
- 9/8/2014 - Cleaned lens, inspected lens mirror.
- 9/27/2014 - Installed carbon filter, exterior venting.
- 11/04/2014 - Cleaned main lens. Not particularly dirty.
- 2/06/2015 - Changed carbon in the filter.
- 3/21/2015 - completely picked the bed clean of any excised material, emptied crumb tray
- 1/28/2020 - major upgrade: new laser, new controller board and firmware, mirror alignment, upgrade to RDWorksV8 PC software
- 2/15/2020 - a routine maintenance tracking and reminder spreadsheet has been loaded onto the shared drive and is called up automatically on the laser PC when the shortcut is used to launch the RDWorks laser software
- Based on observation, this schedule is 3x the length of the "estimated" schedule recommended for full-time laser shops.
- Every three weeks - Clean the main lens.
- Every three months - Clean the lens mirror.
- Every six months - Clean the X-axis gantry mirror.
- Every nine months - Clean the Y-axis mirror.
- Every year - Clean the laser output lens/mirror assembly.
- As needed - Lubricate the linear slides with 3-in-1 oil (or similar light machine oil).
- As needed - Clean crumbs out of crumb tray and the bed (on top of the support rails where crumbs can't fall freely)
- As Needed - Replace coolant water (use distilled water only).
- Add a couple of tablespoons of roundup to the coolant, and it won't need changed as often.