Our lasercutter is an LS6840 PRO from the always excellent HPC. The machine is currently hooked up to Mac Two, which is running Windows and the strangely awful Laserscript 5.3 software. This accepts .dxf files from your vector drawing package of choice (e.g. Inkscape, which is also installed on Mac Two.)
For a quick run through of the complete lasercutter workflow – from initial file preparation through to uploading, calibrating, and finally running your job on the machine please ask a MadFabLab member of staff, and/or check the 'how to laser' guide.
We don't keep materials on-hand but the nearby Fred Aldous usually has a good supply for last-minute jobs, or if you have a bit more time you can order from Kitronic. For smaller jobs, you might find something you can use in the offcuts bin next to the machine.
- Cutting dimensions: 680mm x 400mm
- Cutting Depth: 20mm (Acrylic)
Need to Know
- The Laser cutter requires an induction before use. You can arrange an induction with the MadFabLab team. If you haven't been inducted, please don't use the machine!
- There's a "soft dog" dongle plugged into the back of Mac Two which allows the Lasercutter to operate. THIS SHOULD NEVER BE MOVED.
- When you first switch the machine on, have a peer in the back to make sure that the water is filtering through to the laser tube and there aren't any bubbles forming.
- Laser cutters occasionally catch fire. Never leave the lasercutter unattended whilst operational.
- Ensure that your materials are safe for lasercutting. Mirrors and metals are not – for obvious reasons – and some materials (e.g. vinyl) produce hazardous gases/particulate when cut.
Before you start
- If you're not completely confident using the machine, let a MadLab member of staff know so we can be on hand to help!
- Switch everything on: lasercutter, extractor, water. Allow five minutes before you start, to ensure the laser tube is sufficiently cool.
- Open the window and poke the ventilation pipe through to the outside world.
- Make sure you know where the fire extinguisher is, and are familiar with the fire procedure.
- Check under the bed for any offcuts, or small pieces of material that might catch fire during operation.
- Stay close! In the event of a fire in the machine, pause or stop the machine. If the fire doesn't then go out on its own, open the lid and blow it out. If the fire has developed sufficiently that you can't blow it out, use the fire extinguisher next to the lasercutter.
- Ensure that the machine's ventilation is doing its job. If it's taking a long time to clear, or the room is starting to smell a bit, stop the job. Consider dialling down the power, and if you're unsure that all is working as it should notify the MadFabLab team immediately.
Once you're done
- Wait for any fumes to clear the machine after cutting.
- Wait for the machine to cool down - check the water cooler is below 20 degrees before you shut it off completely
- Remove any offcuts or small pieces of material that have fallen through the bed. Be careful that you don't knock the laser while removing the bed.
- Done with your material, but there's some space left over that someone might be able to make use of? Stick it in the offcuts bin! Otherwise, chuck any leftovers in the waste bin.
- Bring the ventilation pipe back in and close the window.
*SOFT STOP error on laser cutter: Something in your software is out of range for the laser cutter bed. Go back to LaserCut5.3 and zoom out away from the bed to check if you've got something out of range.
*PLUG IN SOFT DOG error on computer screen: Click on the USB icons in the top menu bar and click "Connect..." for each. If it asks you to repeatedly do this then Windows (within VMware Fusion) needs a restart in the bottom left menu bar. Warning: this restart may take a while.