Universal Control Panel (software)
UCP requires specific design parameters. You'll need to set these in the 2D vector drawing program. Specifically:
- The document must be in RGB color mode in order for colors to be read properly.
- Explicitly, you may only use three colors for objects:
- Red (255, 0, 0)
- Blue (0, 0, 255)
- Black (0, 0, 0)
- Red and Blue are only used for strokes.
- Black can be used for stroke and/or path.
- If strokes are Red or Blue, the width must be 0.025mm.
- Any text must be converted into paths prior to sending to UCP. In Inkscape, this can be done by selecting the text and navigating Path --> Object to Path.
Using the software
When using the software there are a couple of things to take note of before cutting:
- The type of material you are using
- The height of the material
- The position of your cut
The laser cutter has different optimal power settings depending on the material , luckily there is a list of materials that the laser cutter already has settings for. To find this list of materials go to the settings tab on the bottom right and corner of the screen, when you have the settings tab open you will see a large amount of options for materials. The materials are organized from broad to specific, to find your specific material you will have to click the plus buttons to the right of the materials, a drop down will appear and you will see more materials, you will know that a material is selectable as an option for the cutter if there is neither a plus or minus next to it and once you've clicked it the apply button, along with a bunch of other buttons, turns red. Press the apply button, you've now changed the laser cutter to the correct settings of you material, now measure the height of your material with the calipers and input that "material thickness" section. Once you've selected your material and set the height of the material you are set to cut. If you've looked throughout the settings list and can not find you material, you may not be able to cut it either due to the fact that the cutter may not be able to cut your material (i.e. metals), or due to the fact that your material may off gas something dangerous like chlorine gas, or the just hasn't been used enough to warrant a settings preset. In the last case the only way to determine the exact settings to cut your material will be to manually test and find optimal settings, however it is more likely that we will allow for that material to be cut. After you've selected and input the height of your material one last thing to note is the position of your cut. Similar to most CAM software that accompanies CNC machines, the position of your cut in the software translates directly to where your cut will end up on the material, therefore you should attempt to put your cut in the most conservative place possible.
You have two ways to change the placement of your cut, the first is with the focus view tool which is the tool second from the left, it looks like a drill head, when you select that tool you and press somewhere within the cutting bed you will see the laser head move to the exact place where you clicked on the bed. This tool can be used to eyeball the placement of your cut, once you think you've found the place where you want to place your cut, press the "move to pointer" button on the bottom left side of the screen and your cut will move to where you clicked initially. Another thing to note about moving your cut is that your cut can move based on multiple points on the cut itself, depending on which point is selected will change the exact placement of your cut, it is often advised to use the top left of cut. The other tool to move your cut is the "relocate view" tool, it is the middle most icon. With this tool you can move you cut manually, unlike the focus view tool the laser head will not move as you are moving your cut, this tool can also be used to eyeball where you think your cut should go however it can be used in a much more accurate way. Once you selected the tool should notice that x and y values have showed up under the tool, with these you can perfectly place your cut, another thing to note when placing things using this tool is that the xy values are in mm while the ruler around the cutting bed is in cm so you'll need to convert. Once you've selected the material, inputted the material height, and place the material in the correct spot you can begin your cut.