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Laser Cutter: “Ultra Secret”

New Blue Laser Cutter
“Ultra Secret” Laser Cutter
Name: Ultra Secret
Owner: Denhac
Training required: Yes
Access: Dedicated computer

Denhac owns an 80W CO2 Laser Cutter with a 35″ x 24″ bed (900 mm x 600 mm) cutting area. It has some awesome features like a motorized bed (to ease laser focus adjustment). This tool is available for member use after training. Our main goal with this training is to ensure that members who are new to the tool don’t end up breaking the machine. This page will talk about the machine itself, the required training involved, and resources available to you to make the experience as best it can be.

Required Training

While we have a few articles about using the laser cutter, some are considered necessary to read and understand BEFORE using the machine. Others exist to facilitate maintenance of the machine. Be sure to read ALL of the safety rules below, including the one about maintenance.

The general order for reading and then being authorized is:

  1. Read: Laser cutter materials allowed / dangerous
  2. Join #Laser channel on Denhac’s Slack and post a message that you want to schedule a time to be trained. These may run on a routine schedule depending on demand.
  3. Watch: Lightburn tutorial to familiarize yourself with the software a bit before the class.
  4. Training will cover:
    • Laser safety including beam path and safe materials
    • Emergencies and fires
    • Machine operation
    • Trainee must use the emergency stop button. Only you can prevent head crashes on hold blocks and laser fires!
    • Art of finding power and speed settings. Don’t use above 80% power and overvolt the tube. Stop using and post in #laser slack if cutting power is reduced or things seem off.
    • Demonstrate that you can use tool by creating small 2-3” nametag that includes an etch, engrave, and cut out border on some wood from the scrap pile.
    • Trainer may quiz and question as you create your nametag to gauge general comprehension.
    • Trainer will grant you laser approved role using slack membership command.

Feel free to check out the other articles in the Laser Cutter category on the wiki, but they should be considered as informational and not necessary to be certified just to use the machine.

Safety Rules

The laser cutter is an exciting and very useful tool. However there are safety precautions that should be taken when using this machine. It uses a concentrated beam of high power laser radiation to vaporize away material to cut and etch. It is capable of catching materials on fire very quickly. It is capable of causing serious burns, severe eye damage, and blindness. Never operate the laser cutter with the case open! Do not operate the laser cutter unattended! Make sure you understand what materials are safe to cut!

Burn and Fire Hazards

  1. This device uses a Class 4 Laser and is capable of producing severe injuries. It takes literally a millisecond to create a deep burn and significant tissue damage.
  2. Never operate the machine with lid open. The window in the lid absorbs the specific wavelength of light created by the laser tube and is safe to watch through. We also have special glasses for that extra level of protection.
  3. This device can ignite materials quickly and should never be operated unattended. DO NOT walk away from the laser cutter.
  4. Make sure you are familiar with the location of the fire extinguisher when operating the laser cutter. There is a special halon fire extinguisher that is safe to use with the laser. Other fire extinguishers may cause damage to the machine.

Keep our Laser Happy

  • Do not use power settings above 80%. Exceeding this soft limit overvolts the tube and burns out the gasses inside which greatly reduces the tube’s lifespan. There’s no hardware limit preventing it, but this is the equivalent or redlining your car.
  • Monitor the temperature gauge on the chiller, especially on longer jobs. If temps go above 26℃ pause the job and wait for it to cool off before continuing.
  • If you notice reduced cutting power or things feeling weird, stop using and post in #laser slack. If cuts are requiring high power and/or multiple passes something is wrong with the device or your material/settings. 
  • If you have questions, are uncertain about anything, or may have accidentally bumped something out of alignment please post in Slack #laser or send a private email to pewpew@denhac.org. We want to know about and proactively fix and prevent potential problems.

Machine Maintenance

Eventually, this machine will break in some form or fashion. Most likely, it’ll be the laser tube expiring, but we might also damage the mirrors and they need to be cleaned or replaced. Unless you have been explicitly authorized to do maintenance on the machine by someone who is themselves authorized to do maintenance, DO NOT open any of the side panels, mess with any of the settings on the machine, or try to fix whatever problem you’re seeing. Please just let us know about it. If you’re a member of the space and are interested in being authorized to repair the machine, we can discuss that.

If you are unauthorized, any attempt to repair the machine when broken, whether successful or not, will be treated negatively. Please just don’t do it.

Maintenance Schedule.

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