Lazzzor Cutter Workshop/Checklist

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This is the laser cutter workshop checklist. It's purpose is to assist people who want to do their own workshops.

Intro Slides

There is a set of PDF slides (Datei:Intro.pdf) I use for a short introduction to laser cutting. Topics you should mention while presenting the slides:

  • Dangerous and forbidden materials
  • Special materials (for example: special acrylic for glow effects and cooling for glas engraving)
  • What is the precision of the laser cutter (it's generally in the tenths of a millimeter but it highly depends on the material and the calibration of the laser cutter. for example: cutting acrylic is more precise than wood)
  • Explain that the laser cutter doesn't cut perfectly vertical and the cut is widening towards the bottom of the material
  • Explain that there are different conventions on how to prepare a laser cutter model for different laser cutters. So be careful when using models from Thingiverse.
  • Please emphasize that they should use the PDF file format for laser cutter models.
  • Advice them to read the user manual because it contains great information and will prepare them well.

Introducing people to the Laser Cutter

  • First show them where the fire extinguisher resides and how to use it. Also tell them to use this and no other fire extinguisher because it's a CO2 type.
  • Explain roughly how the laser cutter works
  • Show them how to clean the lens, mirrors and laser bed
  • Mention that there is also a lathe adapter, but also tell them if they want to use it they need to get further instructions
  • Explain that the laser cutter needs to be in focus, relative to the material. Explain auto focus and manual focus.
  • Show them the red laser pointer
  • Show them how to unlock the x and y axis (x/y off function), how to move it and how to home it.
  • Let them try moving the unlocked axis, so they get a feel for it.
  • Explain that the laser cut will be executed relative to the homing position.
  • Make sure they understand that the laser is capable of exceeding its own physical limits (aka. head crashing) and how to avoid it
  • Show them how to activate the compressor and ventilation. Also explain what they do and that they never ever should forget to activate them (fire hazard, smoke development)
  • Tell them it is possible to test with the open lid (and that they only need to pay for time the laser was activated)

Laser Cutter Software

  • Open the graphics program of your choice and prepare a test cut (for example: 5mm*5mm square)
  • Explain how the primary settings of the laser cutter work (for example: lowering the speed to gain even more power)
  • Show them the sheet with the reference settings
  • Import the test cut into Ctrl-Cut
  • Show them how to properly align the cut job (ctrl-t shortcut)
  • Show them how to use the lower-to-bottom feature (right-click on an item)
  • Show them how to use copy 'n' paste settings feature (right-click on an item)
  • Explain all settings from top to bottom
    • The title will be shown on the laser cutter display
    • The auto focus checkbox activates/deactivate auto focus
    • The unit dropbox sets the units used in the program globally
    • Mention the center engrave feature, but tell them to read up on it in the user manual and to ask for assistance the first time they wanna use it
    • Mention the air assist feature, but also tell them it is dangerous to deactivate it. If the wanna use it they need to ask for assistance
    • Explain why to use inner-outer sorting and when to use the faster TSP sorting
    • Explain that sometimes it's better to use bottom-up engraving direction (for example: for wood)
    • Explain that dithering influences the quality of engravings and that the right choice depends on the picture (Generally, if the picture is rather uniformly areal and has sharp edges they should use Bayer. If it is a more natural picture with gradients and fuzzy edges, like a portrait, they should use Floyd-Steinberg).
    • Explain that the program does automatic adjustments (like contrast stretching) to color and greyscale images. If they import a monochrome image no automatic adjustments will take place.
    • Tell them to always use the preview feature and inspect it. It prevents mistakes and also protects against software bugs.
    • Show them how to use the color mapping feature
    • Show them how to do the accounting with our spreadsheet

Hands on

  • Let them try to laser cut themselves (prepare a combined job for this task)
  • Carefully observe what they are doing and guide them