Laser Cutter Checklist

->Laser Cutter Checklist<-

  1. Safety - Only use certain types of material in the laser cutter. Do not wear jewelry or watches while working on the laser. Do not use the bathroom when using the laser cutter, as the bathroom fan will cause backdrafts inside the laser cutter.

  2. To begin, turn everything on by flipping the switch on the power block.

  3. Always check the water pump before starting, to ensure that water is flowing. Look at the flow sensor connected to the hoses and see whether the paddle wheel is spinning.

  4. Remove the honeycomb inside the laser cutter and inspect it to make sure that it is clean. Return the honeycomb to its original position after inspection.

  5. Turn on the computer by pressing the power button located near the bottom just above the USB ports.

  6. RetinaEngrave, the laser control software, requires a file in .xps format. You have several options to create this If you prepared your original drawing on a Windoze machine, you can create a .xps file by printing it, then selecting the xps virtual printer. It will prompt for a file name. XP users will have to install the xps drivers from Micro$oft; it’s built in to later versions. You can prepare your original drawing with any software you like, as save it in a format that Inkscape (.svg recommended) or LibreCAD (.dxf recommended) can open. You’ll then use Inkscape or LibreCAD on the laser control PC to print it to .xps format.

  7. You should have a drawing in .svg, .dxf, or .xps format on a thumb drive which you can connect to the laser control PC.
    You can use a CD, but you will not be able to save your settings files and will have to write down the speed and power settings manually if you want to repeat the work later. [need to check whether the CD drive in that PC works. does it have a floppy drive?]

  8. If you have a file in .svg or .dxf format: .svg: Open your file in Inkscape, check that it looks the way you want, and print it to a .xps file. .dxf: Open your file in LibreCAD and check that it looks the way you want. Go to print preview and make sure the printing scale is set to 1:1 (LibreCAD by default shrinks or zooms prints to fit a single page). Then print it to a .xps file.

  9. Launch RetinaEngrave and load the .xps file that you wish to cut.

  10. Turn on the laser cutter by twisting the big red button on the top. Click the refresh button in the bottom left to connect. You may have to manually configure the IP address (displayed on the laser cutter) if this fails.

  11. Place the wood, acrylic, or other flat object that you wish to cut and/or engrave into the laser cutter. This piece should be 12” x 20” or less in size.

  12. To set the laser’s focal length, put the gauge under the lens assembly and loosen the thumbscrew to lower or raise the head so that it rests on the gauge, then tighten the thumbscrew to secure the focus head in place. Don’t overtighten the screw. You generally don’t need to reset the focal length between operations unless you are cutting or etching a material of a different thickness.

  13. Do NOT put the laser in the home position.

  14. You may get a 1-1 scale preview by lowering the laser power prior to cut.

  15. For ¼” wood pieces, set the laser to cut 15% speed and 100% power. [There should be a reference volume with settings for various materials. I’m working on a standard form for this.]

  16. Ensure that the mode is set appropriately to Vector, Raster, or Raster then Vector. Use the button with 4 blue stars to check the bounding box for your operation.

  17. Start the job - ignore the home setting warning.

  18. If desired, save the project to a .set file on your thumb drive.

  19. When finished, turn the laser cutter off by pushing the big red button, then shutdown the computer and turn the power off on the power block.