LASER CUTTER USER GUIDE Introduction

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LASER CUTTER USER GUIDEThe following is an outline of policies, procedures and precautions associated with thelaser cutters available to students and faculty of the College of Art and Design, located inthe Design Shop, room 110 Art Building. It is required that all users be familiar with thisoutline but keep in mind that policies and recommended procedures change regularly andit is the user’s responsibility to keep up to date with any changes by checking in withDesign Shop staff periodically and looking for changes to procedures posted at the frontdesk.IntroductionThe College of Art and Design, Design Shop is equipped with 2 Universal Laser SystemsX-660 laser engravers. These machines employ high powered CO2 lasers to engrave andcut a variety of materials. A list of acceptable materials appears later in this document.Over the past several years these machines have changed the way students and faculty atLSU have approached creating architectural models, presentations and artwork, byspeeding up laborious processes and expanding the possibilities of various materials. Asyou read on please remember that the information in this document pertains to the correctand safe use of the machines and does not detail the creation of the documents used withthe machines. Your Professors will be able to provide you with the best instruction onusing CAD and illustration software.Safety----Exposure to the laser beam can cause burns and severe eye damage. Neverdisable access door sensors or try to operate the laser cutter with access doorsopen.Never leave the laser cutter unattended while it is operating. Most of thematerials used with the laser cutter are combustible and can ignite when incontact with the laser beam. If a fire should start inside the machine turn offthe orange power switch, turn off the exhaust system, and turn off thecompressed air, leave the laser room and alert shop staff. If it is safe to do sotry to extinguish the fire with a fire extinguisher and call 911.The laser cutters use high voltage. Never touch or tamper with the exposedwiring inside the machine.Always operate the laser cutter with the exhaust system on. The Design Shopstaff is constantly evaluating the materials being cut with the machines inorder to ensure that potentially harmful materials are not being used. Thatbeing said you should assume that the smoke produced by cutting could beharmful. Almost all of this smoke is expelled safely when the exhaust systemis on. If the amount of smoke being produced seems abnormal stop using themachine and check with shop staff.Do not stare at the light produced while the machine is cutting.

Gaining Access, Making Appointments, Policies and FeesAccessThe laser cutters are available to students currently enrolled in the College of Art andDesign and faculty of the college only. Before anyone is allowed to work in theDesign Shop you must attend a shop orientation and pass the Design Shop SafetyManual Test. Upon completing these requirements you will be given a sticker to beplaced on your LSU ID signifying that you have completed Design Shop safetytraining. Access to the Design Shop including the laser cutters is strictly limitedto students and faculty who have completed these requirements. Effective7/1/2011 Design Shop stickers must be renewed every Fall semester.There is often high demand for the laser cutters. To ensure that projects get finishedon time it is advisable that you make reservations for laser use. One laser cutter isalways reserved for reservations only.It may not always be possible to secure a reservation, especially around mid termsand finals. For this reason one of the lasers is reserved to be used on a first come firstserved basis. Keep in mind that in the event that 1 machine is not running laseruse will be limited to reservations only.ReservationsReservations require a deposit due at the time the reservation is made. Seebelow for pricing.Reservations must be made in person in the shop. No phone calls or emails.Reservations can be made for 30 minutes or 1 hour.Reservations are limited to 1 hour per day and 2 hours per week perperson/group.Reservations are transferable only in person prior to the reserved time.Be on time and ready to cut. If you are late you forfeit your time and will loseany deposits.Fees- The Design Shop can only accept payments through Tiger Cash.- You may only make a payment with your own card.Laser Cutting30 minute reservation1 hour reservation 0.25 per minute (minimum charge is 2.50) 2.50 deposit (1st 10 min. of cutting) 5.00 deposit (1st 20 min. of cutting)Pricing may change at any time without notice, for current pricing call theDesign Shop 225-578-3770Other Policies-Laser cutting fees are charged by the minute. Have your files ready to cut beforeyou arrive. Charges begin when you logon to the computer.-Only 4 people are allowed in the laser room at a time.-Keep the doors to the laser room closed at all times. The Design Shop is dustythe doors should remain closed to limit the amount of dust the lasers are exposed to.

Set up and Use of the MachinesThe following highlights the most important parts of setup and operation of the lasercutters. More detailed instruction is provided during orientation.Starting up the MachineTurn on the machine (orange switch on the side of the machine)Turn on the exhaust (switch on the wall behind the machine)Turn on the compressed air. (Red gate valve under the exhaust switch) Thecompressed air keeps the focusing lens cool during cutting as well as blowsdebris away from the cutting areaThese 3 steps must always be complete before proceedingSet Up of Laser CutterCheck that the focus lens is clean. To do this, unscrew the 3 screws on thefront of the red focus carriage. Remove the front cover and inspect the lensand mirror that are attached to its inside face. Never touch the lens ormirror with your fingers. If the lens or the mirror is dirty clean them withlens cleaner and lens paper. Never use paper towels or clothing to wipe thelens. And only clean the lens if it is dirty. When finished replace the coverto the focus carriage tighten screws finger tight only.Place material to be cut on to the cutting bed. The maximum size of thecutting field is 18 x 32 inches. Material must lay completely flat on the bedotherwise it can not be cut.Focus the laser beam. This process is covered during orientation and adetailed diagram is posted on the wall above the laser cutter.Close the top access door. Now the laser cutter is ready to begin.Set Up of File to be CutThe laser cutters will support cutting files created in AutoCAD, Corel Draw and AdobeIllustrator (Illustrator files tend to be problematic) Print screens for each of theseprograms vary slightly so the following is only a general list of steps for configuring theprint job. Design Shop staff are always available to assist you.Have your file saved to a memory stick or disc as .dwg , .cdr or .aiOpen the desired file and click printSelect the printer (x660)Orient printing for landscapeClick on properties to find details on each color that are in your drawing. Setproper cutting speeds and power of the laser for each color. You will alsoselect the type of cutting the laser will perform (raster or vector) the tipssection of this document describes these functions.Select the scale you want the drawing cut at.Select print preview this will allow you to see if your drawing is the correctsize as well as see if there were any steps missed during print set upIf all is correct click printThe print job will be sent to the laser cutter. The file name, cutting power andspeed settings will be on the display screen. If everything is correct press start

AutoCAD Set UpOpen drawing and select plotSelect printer (x-660)In pop-up select “Use the default paper size User-Defined LANDSCAPE”In the “What to plot” dropdown select window. Now select the drawing youwant to cut by dragging a box around it.In plot scale either check “fit to Paper” or “Custom” if custom select yourdesired scale in either inches or millimetersUnder the Plot Options section of the screen be sure that the only box that ischecked is “Plot stamp on”Click properties, then custom properties. You can now set power and speedassignments for each color as well as the type of cutting (details in tipssection) after any changes be sure to click set for each color.When finished click OK, then select “save changes to the following file:” onpopup windowNow select “Preview ”If everything looks correct click “plot”Corel Draw Set UpOpen drawing and select printSelect printer (x-660)Use default landscape paper sizeClick properties, then custom properties. You can now set power and speedassignments for each color as well as the type of cutting (details in tipssection) after any changes be sure to click set for each color.When finished click OKClick “Print preview”If everything looks correct click “Print”Adobe Illustrator Set UpOpen drawing and select printClick “Setup”You can now set power and speed assignments for each color as well as thetype of cutting (details in tips section)Click on “Engraving Field” and select “landscape”Click “OK”In the preview box to the left of the screen, drag your drawing to the correctpart of the page.Click “Print”Clean UpWhen you are finished clean all parts and debris from the cutting bed. Pick up all scrapsfrom the floor around the machines and the matte-cutter. Check that the focus lens isclean. Turn off the compressed air, exhaust and laser cutter. Check out with shop staff.

Tips Tricks and TerminologyTerminologyVector and Raster engraving- These terms apply to how the laser will cut yourdrawing, understanding them is very important in achieving the results you desire.Vector cutting/engraving means that the laser will follow each line from beginning toend. This method of cutting is advantageous when you are cutting out parts becauseit produces a smooth clean cut at a fast speed.Raster engraving means that the laser will move back and forth firing 1 dot at everypixel in your drawing. This method should not be used to cut out parts but is the onlyway to engrave solid areas, text and intricate patterns and textures.Compressed Air- This refers to the pressurized stream of air used to assist the lasercut as well as cool the focus lensFocus Lens- This is the lens that focuses the laser beam onto the material you arecutting. It is important that this lens is focused correctly to achieve accurate cuts andreduce the risk of damage to the machine. It is also important to keep this lens cleanbecause a dirty lens will retain more heat and eventually melt and crack (These arevery expensive, be good to them)Important tips for good results- The maximum size of material is 18 x 32 inches-Colors are important. Always create your files using the RGB color mode. If notthe laser cutter may not recognize the colors in your drawing resulting in missingparts or files that will not work. You tell the laser cutter how to cut your drawing bymaking each different type of cut with different colors. The laser cutter will alwayscut through the different colors in your drawing in the order below. It is best to setyour drawing up using these colors from the shallowest cuts to the deepest cuts. Thisway small pieces will not be cut free and blown around while you are asking the laserto engrave them. When setting up you print job you should always set the laser toskip colors that are not being used.The order of colors is:BLACK (this should not be used with AutoCAD)RED (recommended for engraving)GREEN (recommended for cutting)YELLOWBLUEMAGENTACYANORANGE

Important tips for good results (continued)-The depth of cut is determined by the power and speed that the laser is set at for eachcolor. Example: for a cut through thick material the power will be very high and thespeed very slow or for a light engraving line the power will be low and the speed willbe fast. We have samples and recommended settings for the most commonly usedmaterials in the shop but it is always best to plan to do some test cuts to make sureyou get the results you want.-Line weight must be as small as possible Corel Draw hairline, AutoCAD 0.00,Adobe Illustrator 0.001- Text should always be set as its own color- Leave a very small space on cut lines so parts stay attached to the larger sheet tomake removal from the machine easier. This will also help you not lose small parts.- Draw an 18 x 32 inch box around your drawing with a color that you will not cut.This is useful for organizing your parts before cutting.Common ProblemsThe following are some of the most common problems that occur during cutting. Iftrying one of the suggested solutions does not work alert shop staff, the problem maybe a symptom of a mechanical problem.-You press start on the machine but nothing happens or the carriage is moving butnot cutting.One of the access doors is not completely closed; make sure that the top and frontdoors are securely closed-Cuts are not going all the way through material.Always check that the lens is clean first. Only if the lens is clean you can increasethe power and decrease the speed-You click plot but nothing is sent to the laser cutter.AutoCAD users make sure that the only plot option checked is “Plot stamp on”Adobe Illustrator users be sure that color and line weights are set correctly.-Parts are not cutting correctly and/or some parts are missingYou did not click “set” after making changes to power and speed settings and/or somecolors are checked as “skip”

Tips for AutoCAD users-Line weight should be 0.00-If you are using an educational version do not use black lines so you can avoidhaving the “Educational product” stamp included on your parts. Also the way thelaser reads that text can confuse it with other parts of your drawing-We occasionally have problems with files created using the Mac version ofAutoCAD, if possible use a PC-Intricate textures should be engraved in raster mode even if the texture is composedof linesTips for Corel Draw Users-Line weight should be set to hairline-All text needs to be converted to curves before cuttingTips for Adobe Illustrator Users-Be sure to create your file using RGB mode. Colors usually cause the mostproblems with the laser cutter, Use the guidelines below to adjust your ERED0255025502550255GREEN0025525500255102-Line weight should be set to 0.001BLUE00002552552550

Materials suitable for the Laser Cutters*all cutting is limited to ¼ inch thickness*ChipboardMatte boardMuseum boardCorrugated cardboardPoster boardFoam core (poor results with small pieces)Acrylic (cast acrylic is recommended) Plexiglas and Lucite are acrylicLeave protective paper on while cutting and engravingWoods: Bass, balsa, maple, cherry, poplar, walnut, oak, birch are the most commonMDFPlywoodHardboard (masonite)LeatherCorkRubber (engraving only)Glass (engraving only, ¼ inch minimum thickness)This list is comprised of only the most commonly used materials. There may be anynumber of additional materials that can be cut and engraved with the laser cutters inthe Design Shop. Any materials not on the above list that you want to cut mustbe approved by the Design Shop manager prior to cutting. This is strictlyenforced and will result in immediate loss of shop access. To get approval bring asample of the material and MSDS sheet (if available) to the shop between the hoursof 8:00a and 4:30p Monday thru Friday for inspection.Materials That Are Not AllowedNo polycarbonates (Lexan, mylar, acetate, etc.)No soft woods and some hardwoods with high resin contentExamples: Pine, cedar, spruce, fir, cypressNo ABS plasticNo vinyl (this includes PVC and PCV)No fiberglassNo polyesterThese materials are strictly prohibited because they are hazardous toboth your health and the equipment. Anyone knowingly using thesematerials in the laser cutters will immediately lose shop access andbe held liable for any damage caused to equipment.

machine and check with shop staff. - . Design Shop you must attend a shop orientation and pass the Design Shop Safety Manual Test. Upon completing these requirements you will be given a sticker to be placed on your LSU ID signifying that you have completed Design Shop safety training.

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