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README.md

README.md

Laser Cutter Tutorial

Important Notes

  1. You need to attend the LASER CUTTER TRAINING before you are eligible to operate the laser cutter
  2. Must be PRESENT and MONITOR the laser cutter when it is on
  3. STOP the machine (open the lid) when your material is ON FIRE. The fire can burn the optical lens which will cost at least $300.
  4. OPEN the fume extractor BEFORE you run the laser cutting job

Prepare Your Files

1. General Rules

The Universal Laser Cutter use Color and Line Width to identify different type of cutting.

BLACK for RASTERIZE
RED LINE for VECTOR CUT
BLUE LINE for VECTOR SCORE

Demo
In the image above, the Block M is RASTERIZE, UMSI is VECTOR SCORE, and the border of the block wood is VECTOR CUT

For Vector Cut and Vector Score, choose the THINNEST possible line

2. 1-Touch Laser Photo - Rasterize a Photo

To RASTERIZE a photo, you can use the application 1-Touch Laser Photo, which is installed on the Laser Cutter Computer.

3. Illustrator

Illustrator Template File (Download)
The template file contains most of the information you need.

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Cutting Area

The artboard is the laser cutter's cutting area (16"x12", landscape). Please don't modified the artboard size. Cutting Area

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Color Code

The swatches provides the color that the Laser Cutter can read. You will only need:
BLACK for RASTERIZE
RED for VECTOR CUT
BLUE for VECTOR SCORE
Swatches

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Stroke

#####!!!ATTENTION!!! Set STROKE to 0.01pt for VECTOR OPERATION To make the Laser Cutter do VECTOR OPERATION, you will need to set the stroke to 0.01pt, any value other than 0.01pt will make the Laser Cutter do RASTERIZE CUT.

-- #####!!!ATTENTION!!! Weird Illustrator Rendering When you set the stroke to 0.01pt, Illustrator might have weird rendering result. For example, the image below shows weird polygon around a smooth corner. That is fine, the laser cutter will still following the outline, not the weird polygon part. Weired Illustrator Rendering

Save Your File

To print your file, save it as PDF and transfer it to the laser cutter computer via USB thumb drive. Read Cutting Your File for more detail.

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4. Inkscape

Coming Soon

5. Rhino

Coming Soon

Prepare Your Materials

Cutting Your File

1. Turn on the computer

Turn the computer and wait until you login to the laser-cutter user account

2. Open the UCP control program

Double click the UCP app icon on the desktop.
UCP app icon
It will open this program
UCP interface The power button on the top right corner should be RED. If it is gray, please reconnect the USB cable, close the program, and open it again.

3. Power up the laser cutter

You need to first power up the computer to turn on the laser cutter because part of the power the laser cutter consume comes from the computer.

There are two ways to power up the laser cutter

1. Use the dedicated power button on the machine

Power Button

2. Use the power button on the software

Power Button UI

During the powering up, you will hear the gear moving noise from the machine. It is the laser cutter trying to initialize and self-calibrate. Please wait until the noise stop, and the bottom left corner of UCP turn from Initializing to Idle
UCP Initializing UCP Idle
If the calibration sound from the laser cutter stops, but the UCP program is still not in Idle mode. Close the program and reopen it again.

At this moment, the big green play button should be active.
UCP Play

!!!IMPORTANT!!!: DO NOT CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON YET

4. Prepare to print your file

1. Open your PDF file in Adobe Reader

In Adobe Reader, Click File/Print
Print Menu

2. Adjust the Printer Settings

In the Adobe Reader's Print Dialog Box, Select printer VLS2.30
Select Printer

After choosing the printer, click Properties, it will bring up the setting window like this.
Material Database

Select the material you are cutting under Material Database tab. In this example, the Birch plywood is under Natural/Wood/Medium Wood/Birch
Material Selection

On the right-hand side, you can adjust the laser power.
!!!IMPORTANT!!!:
Always do a test cutting before proceeding any major task. The default setting might not suit your needs. A test cutting can prevent from causing serious danger and wasting material.

Intensity Adjustment

Enter the correct material thickness. You can use the caliber in the Studio.
!!!IMPORTANT!!!:
Always measures your material before cutting. The stock specs might be different from the actual material.

Material Thickness

Choose the units you are using. It should be inches if you are using the template we provide.
Units

Other settings should remain unchanged.
Click Apply to apply your changes, and click OK to close the window.

In the printer window, make sure the page sizing is set to Actual size. Document Size

Press Print to send your file to UCP program. It won't trigger the laser cutter yet.

5. Adjusting the Position

Go back to UCP program. You should now see your design showing on the preview area.
UCP Preview

Lift up the door of the laser cutter. You should see a red dot showing on the cutting table.
Red Dot

Put your material on the cutting table. Make sure it is level and flat. The uneven material might damage the laser cutter.
Material on the Cutting Table

Switch to focus view on UCP. Left click on the cutting area. A blue anchor point will show up. The red dot in the laser cutter will move to the corresponding location.
Focus View

Click on the relocate view to move your design. You can either:
Left click and drag. Drag and Drop

or Relocate View

Click one of the nine anchor points, and click "To Pointer" to move the anchor point to the blue anchor point we set previously in focus view.

Use these two features to make sure your design can fit into your material. !!!IMPORTANT!!!: Wherever there is a design on the cutting area, your material should cover it. Never that the laser hit the cutting table directly.

The Estimate View can tell you how much time it will take to cut your design.
Estimate Time

6. Open the Fume Extractor and Ready to Print

Before running any laser cutter job, you will need to open the fume extractor. The fume extractor is located right underneath the laser cutter. Fume Extractor

The power of the fume extractor is located on the right-hand side. Open the power and you should hear a very loud noise. Fume Power

Once the fume extractor is running, double check all of your settings, and you should ready to go.

Close the door. And you can hit the Green button to Start running your laser-cutting job.

7. !!!IMPORTANT!!! Safety

  1. Stop the laser-cutting job when there is smoke in the chamber
  2. Stop the laser-cutting job when the flame is too large
  3. Never let the laser beam cut directly on the honeycomb
  4. Keep an eye on the laser cutter all the time

8. Clean Up and Turn off the Machine.

When you finish your cutting. You need to

  1. Turn off the fume extractor
  2. Remove all of the material that is left on the cutting table
  3. Close the door of laser cutter
  4. Turn off the laser cutter
  5. Log off the computer