Laser Usage Procedure

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WARNING: Do not look into laser with remaining eye. Pages to do with the Laser Cutter:

This page contains the recommended usage procedures for operating the Laser Cutter.

Start the Laser and Align the Work Grid

  1. Perform a system pre-check
    • Check that the general area around the laser is free and clear.
    • Open the laser lid and check that the work zone is free and clear and level.
    • - WHY? Because on power up the laser will auto home the head at the back right hand corner. Make sure it doesn't crash into anything
    • Check the water level in the chiller sight gauge under the big laser PC. If low, fill with Distilled Water only.
    • Check for a working fire extinguisher and fire blankets.
  2. Power up the Laser system
    • Turn on the Big Laser power key switch
      • Make sure the Red STOP button is in the up position.
      • See the splash screen appear and change to the laser menu screen.
      • See the spotting laser (red dot) illuminate inside the work zone.
    • The Chiller is wired into the Big Laser and should come on with a double Beep Beep - The chiller cools both lasers
      • Assure the chiller is running properly and the water level is in the green.
      • You can see the chiller temperature display from the back of the laser. it should be in the low 20's C
    • The Big Laser air pump is also wired into the laser front panel and should come on with the laser.
      • Assure the air pump is blowing air out the laser nozzle. Use your hand to check the air flow.
    • The Exhaust Fan is wired into the laser front panel and will quietly come up to speed.
      • Assure the exhaust duct fan starts and is running OK.
  3. If you are using the Honeycomb, you must assure that it is clear and will not get caught under the laser frame by the rising bed.
    • DO NOT CUT WOOD, PLYWOOD, BIRCHPLY, or MDF on the HONEYCOMB - They leave sooty marks on the surface.
    • Visually align the honeycomb to be clear at all four corners of the bed.
    • Manually raise the Z axis from the control panel until the honeycomb surface is level with the bed. This assures the honeycomb is aligned.

Load Your Stock and Set the Laser Focus

  1. Open the lid and place your stock material in position on the work surface honeycomb grid.
  2. Press 'ESC' to un-highlight the displayed 'LASER' file name.
  3. You can now use the arrow buttons to move the laser head. Press and/or hold down the 'Left Arrow' (-X jog) and 'Down Arrow' (-Y jog) to move the laser head over your stock.
  4. Position the laser head over the material.
  5. Press 'Z' to enter the 'Z-AXIS OPERATE' mode.
  6. Set Z Datum. While Z-Axis displays on the Laser control panel. Press the Datum button.
  7. Keep your hand on the Red STOP button in case anything goes wrong.
  8. The bed will rise until the material depresses the spring loaded surface sensor. Once the surface is senses, the bed will back down to the preset 127 mm focal length.
  9. Press 'Z' to exit the 'Z-AXIS OPERATE' mode.

Import Your DXF Geometry into Easycut 5.3

  1. Verify the 'WHCX-LASER' dongle is in the PC USB port.
  2. Click on the Easycut5.3 icon to launch this PC application.
  3. Enter the menu command string File / Import / (from location) / (filename) and then click on the Open button.
  4. Verify your geometry has imported at the correct scale and position in the Easycut5.3 application window.
    1. The geometry will be centered on a blue 'X' in the displayed workspace.
    2. There will be a blue dot at the upper right hand corner of your geometry.
    3. The cut path list (the window in the upper right corner of the screen) will show how many color layers are in your geometry.
  5. You can use the EasyCut5.3 CAD features to selectively edit your geometry as desired at this point.

Unite Lines and Set Laser Path Parameters

  1. Use the mouse to drag a box to outline and select all geometry. Then unite lines with the command string Tools / Unite lines / (set tolerance to 0.100) / OK.
  2. In the cut path list window, scroll each color row to set:
    • Mode = Cut, Engrave, GradeEngrave, or Hole (just use Cut or Engrave)
    • Output = If checked, this layer is sent to the laser; if not it is not sent.
    • Times = Usually set to '1', set to '2' to cut the path twice for thicker material.
      • Double-click elsewhere on a color row to open the 'Set cut options' window where you can set the following additional cut options for your material
    • Speed = 1 to 400 (choose a speed suitable for your material)
    • Power = 0 to 100 (choose a matching power level suitable for your speed)
    • Corner Power = 0 to 100 (less than power setting due to corner slow downs)
    • Overlap = Leave at 0.0200 (this is the default engraving step-over value)
    • For the three radio buttons, always select 'Always blow' (air on the optics).
    • […] = Advanced settings window (Don't go here or change any of these!)
  3. If you have multiple color cut layers, you can move color layers up and down in the list to change the cutting order.

Calculate and Download to the Laser

  1. Verify the 'Immediate' check box is checked.
  2. Press the 'Calculate' button. Notice the pop-up 'processing data' window opens, finishes, and closes.
  3. Press the 'Download' button. See the 'Stand-alone file manager' pop-up window. There, press the 'Download Current' button. See the pop-up 'Download' window appear and when it closes, the cutting program for your geometry has been downloaded to the laser.
  4. Close the 'Stand-alone file manager' window.
  5. You are done in Easycut5.3 for now. You can do a File / Save at this point to create and save an ECP file of your geometry and session settings in the Easycut5.3 application.

Test and Cut Your Geometry on the Laser

  1. At the laser control panel, press 'ESC' to un-highlight the 'LASER' file name shown on the laser display.
  2. Use the laser control panel arrow keys to jog the laser head to the desired 'immediate' starting point (upper right corner of the geometry's bounding box) on your stock material.
  3. Press 'TEST' to cause the laser head to trace the bounding box outline of your geometry in non-cutting mode.
  4. If the test outline was traced successfully, now press 'START PAUSE' to start the motions that will cut your part from start to finish.
  5. Watch as your part is cut. Do not leave the work area. If there are any problems, including fires, press the red STOP button. The laser head will stop by itself when the cutting program ends.

Reset the Laser Head & Unload Your Stock

  1. At the laser control panel, press 'ESC' to highlight the 'LASER' file name shown on the laser display.
  2. Press 'RESET' to cause the laser head to return to the default top right clearance position in the work zone.
  3. Open the lid and remove your stock.
  4. Clean out any detached slugs that may have become lodged in the work surface honeycomb grid.

Power Off Laser and Prep for the Next User

  1. At the laser control panel, press 'ESC' to un-highlight the 'LASER' file name shown on the laser display.
  2. Verify the laser work zone is clean and clear.
  3. Remove any stray slugs that may be lodged in the work surface honeycomb grid.
  4. Turn off the key switch to power off the laser, air pump, chiller and exhaust fan.
  5. Clean the area around the laser and PC. Empty the trash can. Leave the laser area better than when you found it.