Laser Cutter

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Rabbit QX-80-1290 Laser engraving/cutting machine
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Rabbit Laser Cutter
Technical Specifications
Bed Size 1200 x 900 mm (47.2 x 35.4 inches)
LASER Power 80W
LASER Type Sealed CO2 laser tube
Max Bed Height ~10 inches
Max Cut Speed 36,000 mm/min
Max Engrave Speed 60,000 mm/min
Max Engrave Resolution 1000 DPI
Additional Information
User Manual RL-80-1290_User_Manual.pdf
Website Rabbit QX-80-1290 Product Page

The Laser cutter cuts or engraves digital designs on a variety of materials. Laser cutting is a great way to rapidly prototype projects.

An authorization workshop, hosted by an approved instructor, is required of all members before using the laser cutter. Workshops are posted on the calendar. Peer authorization is not an approved path for use of the laser cutter.

Interfacing with the laser cutter is performed with LaserCut v5.3.

The laser cutter does require regular cleaning and alignment. This is to be performed by trained volunteers only.

Usage

Safety

Laser cutters pose a fire hazard. A high intensity beam of laser light can produce extremely high temperatures as it comes into contact with the materials it is engraving, marking, or cutting. When using the laser cutter, remember:

  1. You may only use the laser cutter if you have been officially authorized according to the machine access policy
  2. Never leave the laser cutter unattended while it was powered on (even if it is not firing)
  3. Never cut materials that you don't know are safe
  4. Never override laser cutter safeties and switches
  5. Know what to do if a fire happens
    1. Move the head out of the way, if it's small.
    2. Hint: Hit the big, red, emergency stop button. This will shutdown the laser and the air supply
    3. A Carbon Dioxide (CO2) fire extinguisher is located next to the laser cutter
    4. Verify it is out and then:
      1. Place a note that a fire occurred and the machine is out of service.
      2. Post on the forum about it, or send an email to fablab@makeict.org
      3. Someone from the laser group will check the machine and put it back into service.

Before starting the laser cutter

  1. Check the coolant window in the back of the chiller before starting any project
  2. Check that the screen in the collection bin is clean and the bin is empty
    • Every time you use the LASER!

After starting the laser cutter

  1. Before cutting make sure the air compressor and the fan motor are on
  2. Home the head!
    • If you do not do this, you may crash the head, which is not good
  3. Beware of flammable materials while using the machine

Workflow

  1. On any computer - Create design
    Design step 1: Create your design in your favorite graphics program
    1. Use inkscape, autocad or other software to create a DXF file that can be imported to lasercut
  2. On any windows computer - Create lasercut file
    1. Import DXF into Lasercut trial version
    2. Separate layers if necessary
    3. Tools > Unite Lines
    4. Set layer modes
    5. Set layer speeds/powers
    6. Set origin (under Laser menu)
    7. Save as ECP, with corresponding ini files
  3. On the laser cutter computer
    1. File> Open ECP in Lasercut full version
      Design steps 2-3: Import your DXF into LaserCut
    2. Confirm mode settings
    3. Select all
    4. Move design to confirm origin
  4. Turn on laser cutter
  5. In lasercut:
    1. Download
    2. Delete All
    3. Download Current
    4. Watch to make sure more than 2048 bytes are sent
  6. Load media into cutter
    Sample of hardboard - Letter shapes are engraved, outline is cut
    1. Lower laser cutter table
    2. Home laser head (xy-0)
    3. Load media into cutter
    4. Move laser to center of media
    5. Focus at appropriate height (z-0)
    6. Move laser to desired origin
    7. Run box/test
  7. Close lid and start
  8. After cut is finished allow ~30 seconds before opening to vent smoke/fumes

When Finished

  1. Home the head
  2. Remove media and clear debris
  3. Power off

Common Issues

  • Edges of cut pieces are slanted, rather than straight.
The Laser is out of alignment and needs to be adjusted. Notify the Fab Lab Lead.
  • The head crashes when approaching the left or bottom of the bed.
The head must be homed before starting to cut. If it isn't homed there is a risk of crashing the head, which is a bad thing.
  • Bed only travels downwards.
The focus probe is stuck in the triggered position. Wiggle it loose and make sure nothing jammed.
  • Focus probe is broken.
There are spares in the kit in the cabinet on the left-hand side of the laser. When putting a thicker material in the cutter remember to lower the bed before moving the head.
  • Fumes are not venting well.
Make sure that the screen in the collection bin under the bed is clean.
  • Unexpectedly wide rotary attachment dimensions
Machine Options > Worktable > RY axis pulse unit = .018238

Materials

Cutting a bad material in the laser cutter can be dangerous. Only approved materials should be cut, and banned materials should never be placed in or even around the laser cutter. Cutting an unknown material risks bodily harm and damage to equipment/facilities.

For speed and power settings with different materials, please look at and contribute to this shared spreadsheet.

Approved materials

Name Notes Warnings
Acrylic (aka Plexiglas, Lucite, PMMA)
Cuts well, leaves a smooth polished edge. Higher powers can leave smoke/scorch marks along edges. Some people remove paper/plastic protection sheets before cutting.
Cardboard
Cuts well, can catch fire FIRE hazard!
Ceramic
Engraving only Mirror surfaces can reflect the laser beam
Cloth (cotton, felt, hemp)
Cuts easily NO plastic coated or impregnated cloth!
Corian
Cork
Cuts nicely, the quality of the cut depends on the thickness and quality of the cork. Engineered cork has a lot of glue in it, may not cut nicely.
Coroplast (corrugated plastic)
Difficult to cut through cleanly, due to the ribs. Multiple passes are usually needed.
Delrin
Comes in a number of shore strengths (hardness), the harder tends to work better. Great for gears!
Glass
Has a sandblasted look, #009900 glass works best Mirror surfaces can reflect the laser beam
Leather, suede
Leather is very hard to cut, can be if thinner than a belt thickness
MDF, engineered woods
May experience a higher amount of charring when cut
Magnetic sheet
Cuts easily
Stone/Granite/Marble/etc.
Engraving only Mirror surfaces can reflect the laser beam
Matte Board
Melamine
Mylar
Works well if it's thin. Thick mylar has a tendency to warp, bubble, and curl Gold coated mylar will not work
Paper, card stock
Plywood, composite woods
Contain glue, and may not cut as well as solid wood
Pressboard
NON-CHLORINE Rubber
DO NOT CUT unless the rubber compound has been tested Beware chlorine-containing rubber! If you're not sure, assume you've got chlorinated rubber, and don't cut it.
Tile
Engraving Only. Mirror surfaces can reflect the laser beam
Wood
Avoid oily/resinous woods FIRE - Cutting oily woods, or very resinous woods can catch fire.
Wood Veneer
Contain glue, and may not cut as well as solid wood
Anodized Aluminum
Engraving only. Vaporizes the anodized layer away
Bare Metals
Engraving only.
Brass
Engraving only.
Coated Metals
Engraving only. Vaporizes the coating away
Painted Metals
Engraving only. Vaporizes the paint away
Stainless Steel
Engraving only.
Titanium
Engraving only.
PolyPropylene Sheet
NOT FOAM
PolyStyrene Sheet
NOT FOAM Tends to melt; avoid overheating.

Banned materials

These materials should never be processed in the laser cutter.

Name DANGER WARNING
ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)
Emits cyanide gas and tends to melt ABS does not cut well in a laser cutter. It tends to melt rather than vaporize, and has a higher chance of catching on fire and leaving behind melted gooey deposits on the vector cutting grid. It also does not engrave well (again, tends to melt).
Chlorinated plastics (PVC/Poly Vinyl Chloride, vinyl/pleather/artificial leather)
Emits pure chlorine gas when cut! Don't ever cut this material as it will ruin the optics, cause the metal of the machine to corrode, and ruin the motion control system. Bubbles yellow, smokes alot, STINKS!!!!!
Coated Carbon Fiber
Emits noxious fumes A mix of two materials. Thin carbon fiber mat can be cut, with some fraying - but not when coated
Fiberglass
Emits fumes It's a mix of two materials that cant' be cut. Glass (etch, no cut) and epoxy resin (fumes)
Galvanized metal
Emits dangerous fumes Zinc fumes are poisonous. Galvanized metal should never be super heated (so don't weld on it either).
Metal
Power needed for LASER to cut metal
Milk bottles/HDPE
Catches fire and melts It melts, gets gooey. DON'T. Someone has to clean the hex worktable.
Mirrored surfaces
Will not cut, reflects laser beam Mirror surfaces can reflect the laser beam, damaging the cutter's interior components. Some mirrored materials can be placed reflective-side down and cut.
Polycarbonate/Lexan
Cut very poorly, disbackground-color, catch fire Polycarbonate is often found as flat, sheet material. The window of the laser cutter is made of Polycarbonate because polycarbonate strongly absorbs infrared radiation! This is the frequency of light the laser cutter uses to cut materials, so it is very ineffective at cutting polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is a poor choice for laser cutting.
PolyPropylene Foam
Catches fire Like PolyStyrene, it melts, catches fire, and the melted drops continue to burn and turn into rock-hard drips and pebbles.
PolyStyrene Foam
Catches fire Like PolyPropylene. It catches fire, it melts, and only thin pieces cut. This is the #1 material that causes laser fires!!!
Pressure treated wood
Emits dangerous fumes Should never be burned -- not in your fireplace, and definitely not in our LASER
Printed circuit board (FR4 and other material types)
Unidentified plastics/rubbers
If you don't know what it is, don't put it in the LASER cutter

Other resources

On this wiki

Authorization Class Links

Materials

Laser Cutter Authorized Users

To see authorized users expand this section --->

Name Authorization Date
Amy Dorsch 2016-04-30
Paul Sheets 2016-05-18
Aaron Rivers 2016-02-27
Anna Lenhart-Murray 2015-12-16
Audrey Barba 2015-12-14
Bob Jackson 2016-02-27
Bonnie Thurman 2016-03-28
Brad Cooley 2015-11-16
Brian Hertz 2015-12-18
Brock Milford 2015-12-16
Bryan Barr (instructor) 2015-08-07
Cat Barba-Abay 2015-12-16
Charles Griesel 2015-12-02
Charlie Fair 2015-11-11
Chris Batcheller 2015-12-14
Chris Lofland 2016-02-27
Chris Strait 2016-05-18
Christy Bennett 2016-04-30
Christian Kindel 2015-12-12
Cindy Conrad 2016-03-28
Cory Kertz 2015-11-11
Coty Sandfort 2016-04-30
Curt Gridley 2015-12-12
Dale Morrow 2016-06-21
Dana Danaver 2015-12-05
Daniel Towle 2015-12-20
David Graver 2016-06-21
David Springs 2015-09-19
Dean Day 2015-12-12
Dominic Canare (instructor) 2015-12-02
Douglas Stice 2016-04-30
Doug Wilson 2016-03-28
Dustin Richey 2016-01-16
Ed Hutson 2016-05-18
Eric Sommer 2016-04-30
Ernest Sharp 2016-03-28
Gayle Thomas 2016-05-18
Geoffrey Kisch 2015-12-05
H. Robert Shultz 2016-04-30
Helen Haskin 2015-12-16
Henry Gridley 2016-05-18
Ivan Quiroz 2015-11-16
JaiPal Chauhan 2016-06-21
James Seymour 2015-12-12
James Classen 2015-11-11
James Dorsch 2016-04-30
James Lancaster 2015-12-05
James Tennant 2016-05-18
Jeremiah Loder 2015-12-14
Jerry Carpenter 2015-08-07
Jerry Shubert 2015-11-11
Jesse Lee 2016-01-16
Jim Hammer 2015-12-12
Joe Groom 2016-04-30
Joe Lobdell 2016-02-27
Joel Ewy 2015-12-05
John Alexander (instructor) 2015-12-02
John Harrison 2015-10-30
Jonny Fosnight 2015-11-16
Joseph Woolridge 2016-03-28
Judah Hansen 2015-12-20
Julie Chen 2016-05-18
Karyn Bell-Simon 2016-01-16
Keith Rowley 2016-02-27
Kenton Hansen 2015-12-20
Kevin Elledge 2015-12-14
Kim Lujan 2015-12-18
Kip Landwehr 2015-12-18
Kyle McCormick 2016-05-18
Larry Frank 2016-03-28
Logan Pajunen 2015-11-11
Marc Lujan 2016-02-27
Marc Roths 2016-06-21
Marcus Mosley 2015-12-20
Mark Esau 2015-12-20
Mark Reuter 2016-05-18
Marty Boyzuck 2016-02-27
Matthew Pewewardy 2016-03-28
Melanie Jenney 2015-12-14
Melissa Soutiere 2015-12-14
Michael Grudowski 2016-05-18
Mike Barushok 2015-12-18
Mike Doolittle (instructor) 2015-08-07
Mike Hutton 2015-11-11
Mike McKown 2016-04-30
Mitzi Trout 2015-12-18
Nathan Huff 2016-02-27
Paul Poirier 2016-03-28
Paul Wilson 2015-12-20
Rick Boyd 2015-12-20
Sam Jossie 2016-02-27
Samuel McConnell 2015-12-02
Samuel Schurter 2015-12-05
Shawn Achenbach 2016-02-27
Skyler Lovelace 2015-12-02
Stephan Reckers 2015-11-16
Steve Owens 2016-04-30
Steve Saner 2016-01-16
Stuart Smith 2015-12-14
Tammy Arnott 2016-02-27
Terry Weatherson 2016-01-16
Thomas Bloom 2015-12-12
Tom McGuire 2015-08-07
Turquoise Thomas 2016-06-21
Tyler Ball 2016-01-16
Valerie Lillich 2016-06-21
Weston Vice 2015-12-05
William Davisson 2015-12-18
Aaron Weaver 2016-06-15
Adam Wiley 2016-06-15
Alex Kern 2016-06-15
Alexander Melton 2016-06-15
Bruce Barley 2016-06-15
Holly Arnold 2016-06-15
Jake Ferrell 2016-06-15
Jared Stafford 2016-06-15
Jess Bechtelheimer 2016-06-15
John Clark 2016-06-15
Kurt Hershey 2016-06-15
Larame Cline 2016-06-15
Larry Roth 2016-06-15
Larry Wynn 2016-06-15
Michele Pugh 2016-06-15
Mike Arnold 2016-06-15
Mike Brennison 2016-06-15
Resha Parajuli 2016-06-15
Stuart Smith 2016-06-15
Tim Otter 2016-06-15