ULS PLS4.75 Laser Cutter

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"Laser Cutter"

(We offer a workshop to allow members the use of the PLS4.75. Generally during the semester, it is offered once a week.)

The Universal Laser Systems PLS4.75 is a 2D subtractive manufacturing laser cutter machine. A laser cutter uses a focused, high power column of photons cut stock with extreme quality and precision. Due to its large bed size, the laser cutter is most useful for project where you need either a very precise subtractive process or need to cut stock that is too large for our other subtractive devices, like the Bantam Tools PCB Mill.

Steps

-The first step is to turn the fan on, turn the dial somewhere between noon and 3. Then hit the power button located on the right, back side of the machine.
-The laser is homed at the top right, but you will find, (0,0) coordinates at the top left. Align material, making sure it is at the top left corner.
-Scraps are kept below the machine, and new sheets are located under the 3d printers. Please do not be wasteful.
-Pull up CAD software (computer aided design) Inkscape if you want to create the design and Corel Draw for uploading and printing the design.
-After creating design in Inkscape, import it as a pdf to Corel Draw (import text as curves).
-Make sure all the colors are in RGB. Red cuts through, blue traces, and black rasters.
-Do a file print to pls 4.75.
-Open file in UDP (Corel Draw works in tandem with UDP).
-Now position your creation. Use the pointer icon and click on a place on the grid, which will move the laser to that location.
-Then, click the position button, which is to the right of the pointer icon, and use that tool to click on a corner of your creation.
-Next, look for the 'to pointer' icon below pointer icon. This will bring the creation to the starting position you've picked for the laser.
-Open the settings.
-Make sure you have the right material selected. Then use calipers to measure the density of the material. Enter that measurement in mm below of the type of materials. Click apply and then click ok.
-Click play button. Watch print. If fire occurs use fire be gone spray (yellow bottle) or fire extinguisher, and pause the machine from the front or pop the hood and the print will stop.


Safety

All laser cutters are dangerous machines. There are a host of safety checks in place to make sure that the machine operates as safely as possible, but as the operator, you must also be mindful. There are four important precautions to take when using this machine:

  1. Never run the laser cutter without the filtration/exhaust unit running.
  2. Never stare into the laser.
  3. Never cut anything that isn't on the list of approved materials.
  4. NEVER LEAVE THE LASER CUTTER UNATTENDED WHILE RUNNING. This machine is susceptible to fire, and walking away from a running job will result in you losing you laser cutter access.
  5. If using mirror material, never have the mirror facing up. The laser may bouce off the mirror. Make sure the dull side faces you.

Materials

NEVER CUT THESE

Some materials, when used on the laser cutter, produce chemicals that are extremely hazardous and deadly to ingest. The following materials should NEVER be used on our system.

Material Other names Common objects Danger Notes
PVC Polyvinyl chloride, vinyl Vinyl from the vinyl cutter, pipes, water-resistant clothing, imitation leather, canvas Emits chlorine gas. Ruins the optics and corrodes the machine as well. But you'll be dead so it won't matter.
ABS Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene Almost anything which has been injection molded is either ABS or HDPE. Emits cyanide gas. Tends to melt instead of cut. But you'll be dead so it won't matter.

Approved

The following materials are allowed to be used on the laser cutter and can be found within DaBL.

Material Notes Warnings
Acrylic Cast acrylic will etch, extruded will not.
Many solid woods Avoid oily or resinous woods, as they have a tendency to catch fire.
Plywood and composite woods Glues will reduce efficacy of laser cut.
MDF and engineered woods More charring than other wood products.
Paper Cut a single layer at a time to avoid fire.
Cardboard Watch for fire.

What if what I want to cut isn't listed?

Check with a CaTS to make sure your material is cuttable. DO NOT CUT ANYTHING THAT IS NOT ON THE APPROVED LIST WITHOUT FIRST GETTING APPROVAL.

External Links

An extended list of materials with more information can be found here.