Introduction to Laser Cutters

Laser cutters are machines that use a focused laser to cut materials. They are commonly used to cut wood, plastic, and thin metal very precisely. In general, the laser cutter is used in conjunction with CAD/drawing programs (such as Autodesk Fusion 360 or Adobe Illustrator), which will export a Drawing eXchange Format (DXF) file for cutting. The laser cutter can execute very detailed cuts, with positioning accuracy and repeatability to within 10 micrometers.

Terminology

Safety Considerations

User Guide

Before starting a project with the Laser Cutter, you must complete the safety training detailed above and consult with Aaron.

Step 1:

Open your .dxf file in Adobe Illustrator on the shop's computer. If you are cutting all the way through your material, you'll want the cut lines to be red as shown in the image below. To change the color, select the line (ctrl+a to select all) and click on the red/white dropdown in the upper left corner, immediately underneath "Edit." Set the stroke width to 0.1 pt. If you want to etch instead of cut through, you'll need a different color. Ask Aaron or a shop manager to help with this.

Also, the four small images below show the four switches/buttons you'll need to turn things on and off. Make sure these are all ON before you start, and OFF when you're done. Note: as you can see from the second small picture, the laser cutter's power switch is hard to find. Reach down on the right side of the machine and feel for the switch.

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Step 2:

Select File -> Print (or ctrl+p) when you are ready to cut. The laser cutter will show up like a normal printer. It is named PLS6.75. Set the General settings as pictured below, and then select Print.

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Step 3:

Another print window should pop up. Just select Print again.

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Step 4:

A window for laser cutter settings should now pop up as shown. Here you can select your material, thickness, etc. If you are cutting wood, look under "Natural."

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Step 5:

Once you have selected and applied your material settings, click on the arrow in the PC's lower right corner to reveal the hidden menu as shown. Select the red icon (the diamond with a line inside).

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Step 6:

The window shown below should pop up. By clicking your cursor on various parts of the image, you can move the laser head around and ensure that your design is entirely within the cutting region.

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Step 7:

By clicking "Go" on the right, a smaller window labeled "focus" will appear. You can type in coordinates here to move the laser head. Use this to adjust the z-axis (i.e., the height) to be the thickness of your material, plus a little bit.

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Step 8:

Lastly, hit the green "play" button in the upper right. This will start the print. Enjoy the show!

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