Laser Cutter Software Upgrade

Posted: November 5, 2017 3:57 pm

Space ornaments made with our laser cutter

Our 80W CO2 laser cutter is one of the most popular tools in the makerspace. Last month it suffered an unfortunate control board failure. Rather than buy an identical control board, we saved money and embraced an opportunity for improvement by switching to lower cost open source solutions that allow for a lot more customization.

If you’re an authorized laser cutter user you do not need to re-take the authorization class. The fundamentals of laser cutting haven’t changed – you need to know about graphic design, material usage, and fire safety. You can re-take the class if you want. I tell everyone who takes laser cutting basics that they can sit in the back of future classes for free, forever. But you can also just review the Wiki Page. The “Workflow” section has a brief outline of each step, and also contains a link to a presentation with step-by-step screenshots. The screenshots have been printed off and are stored in a 3-ring binder next to the laser cutter computer.

LaserWeb version 4

A few key changes to note:

  1. LaserWeb accepts *.png, *.jpg, *.jpeg, *.bmp, *.gcode, *.g, *.svg, *.dxf, *.tap, *.gc, & *.nc. There is no longer a need to convert your vector files to DXF, and your SVG files can have raster files embedded for engraving.
  2. We can now do 3D engraving – a range of power settings depending on darkness of the image.
  3. Power settings have changed. Try a lower power than what you’re used to. Power can now be set down to 1%. We’ve found that 6mm sanded plywood cuts at 30% power, speed 15mm/s.

One other new thing this month: we’ve added a reservation calendar to help schedule times to use the laser cutter. You don’t have to have a reservation to use it, but this makes it much easier to set aside time, meet friends to collaborate, or just know that you can make a deadline on a project. Be sure to check the calendar before you start using the laser cutter to make sure you’re not running into anybody’s reservation. If you’re in the MakeICT google group, you can add reservations yourself.

If you’re a new user, or if you just want a refresher, head to for the latest class schedule.