Difference between revisions of "Laser Cutter"

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** Kapton tape (Polyimide)
** Kapton tape (Polyimide)
** Mylar (polyester)
** Mylar (polyester)
** Nylon — melts badly
** PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol)
** PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol)
** Polyethylene (PE) — melts badly
** Polyethylene (PE) — melts badly
Line 51: Line 50:
* Printed circuit board (FR4 and other material types)
* Printed circuit board (FR4 and other material types)
* Carbon fiber
* Carbon fiber
* Nylon — melts badly

Revision as of 23:59, 25 November 2011

We have a Full Spectrum Engineering 40W Co2 Laser Cutter

Tetsu worked hard and started a Kickstarter project to get us a laser cutter for about $2000. We successfully promoted it enough to get people to generously donate to our cause, and now we have one!

Our Model

  • Full Spectrum Engineering 40W Co2 Laser Cutter
    • 13" x 13" cutting table
    • 40w Co2 Laser
    • Water cooled
    • Safety Interlocks
    • 2.75" vertical stroke
    • Air assist
    • Cutting software (printer driver, uses vector software like CorelDraw/Illustrator/Inkscape)
    • Mach3 Control

Things we can and cannot cut using the laser

Things we can cut:

  • Plastics:
    • ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)
    • Acrylic (also known as Plexiglas, Lucite, PMMA)
    • Polycarbonate (PC, Lexan) — Beware the fumes on this one, they can get pretty bad.
    • Delrin (POM, acetal) — for a supplier, try www.mcmaster.com.
    • Kapton tape (Polyimide)
    • Mylar (polyester)
    • PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol)
    • Polyethylene (PE) — melts badly
    • Polypropylene (PP) — melts somewhat
    • Styrene
    • Two-tone acrylic — top color different than core material, usually for custom instrumentation panels, signs, and plaques.
  • Foam:
    • Depron foam — often used for RC planes.
    • EPM
    • Gator foam — foam core gets burned and eaten away compared to the top and bottom hard shell.
  • Other:
    • Cloths (leather, suede, felt, hemp, cotton)
    • Magnetic sheets
    • Papers
    • Rubbers (neoprene) — for a supplier, try www.mcmaster.com.
    • Teflon (PTFE, Polytetrafluoroethylene) — for a supplier, try www.mcmaster.com.
    • Woods (MDF, balsa, birch, poplar, red oak, cherry, holly, etc.) — for a supplier, try www.midwestproducts.com.

Things we CANNOT/DO NOT cut:

  • Metals
  • Any material containing chlorine
  • PVC (Cintra) — contains chlorine
  • Vinyl — contains chlorine
  • Fiberglass
  • Printed circuit board (FR4 and other material types)
  • Carbon fiber
  • Nylon — melts badly


Laser Cutter Settings

The laser cutter has two settings that are mainly used: Power and Speed. These are determined by the type and thickness of material and the type and thickness of the desired cut. This is a table of suggestions based on what lab members have found by trial and error; so they may or may not work for you. If you have something new, go with what's most like what you're trying to cut and experiment from there.

There are a few things to remember when using the laser cutter:

  • Never cut PVC. If you don't know what it is, do your best to research it or ask someone. Using PVC **WILL** Damage the laser cutter.
  • The "Laser Test" button is ALWAYS live. Do not press it with the lid open.
  • DO NOT go over 15mA on the current adjustment knob. This will kill the laser tube quickly.
  • If anything seems out of place (strange noises, burn marks, laser is not cutting and power meter is moving, water or air is not running properly) STOP. Ask someone what to do.

Laser Settings Chart

Material Thickness Power Speed Note
Extruded Acrylic 3mm 10mA 30% This is a test, change this to actual settings.

Handy Links

Modification Suggestions

Our FullSpectrum 40W is far from perfect. Add your suggested improvements to the laser cutter on this list.

  • Mount the parallel port driver board further back within the case
  • Mount the Mach3 card inside the case, make cover for it to screw in the outside (with the laser cutter!?)
  • Strain relief and longer USB cable (Chris has a 10 or 15 ft he will donate. Ferrite beads and gold plated.)
  • Air pump (Mack getting this for us so ghetto-rig ShopVac can go away)
  • Digital readout for power knob (Looking into digital potentiometer with readout!)
  • Lid-switch should trip the system-wide cutoff, not just a computer control cutoff
  • IR-sensitive webcam in the box
  • Beam-split red laser upgrade to point where the laser will point (Chris will work on this as well as a laser to show where the corner of the piece will start.)
  • More stable/level platform
  • Locate more metal honeycomb without frame
  • Millimeter (digital?) measurement tool on the side of the platform to automatically measure height of platform
  • Laser-cut (58mm?) focus measurement stick
  • Back-lit switches for the "Laser Power", "Laser Test", "Air Power", and "Light", so we know when it's actually on
  • Shiny aircraft switches (Safety to keep from bumping), with led notifiers above
  • Water pump flow sensor and light, integrate with Laser On switch to prevent operation if a problem is present.
  • Knight rider LED chaser for when laser is active and lasing and dangerous
  • Better interior lighting (possibly fluorescent bars and/or LEDs) to better light the work surface
  • Possibly redo entire control panel with digital readouts and better (read: safer) switches.


  • Custom shelving
  • Acrylic chairs!
  • Benches
  • Random professional looking constructions
  • Wearable computing rig parts
  • eyeglass frames
  • laptop docks
  • engraving ensignia onto phones and laptops
  • super-custom made computer cases
  • display cases
  • any other random design pieces

Links to items cut on the FamiLAB Laser (post your stuff here!)

Acrylic Sensing Platform Hub Case

Acrylic MaceTech RGB LED Satellite brackets