The Blue Laser Cutter is usable by members who have had an induction.
900mm x 600mm usable area (but bed is bigger) 100W Laser Tube Awesome Extraction Air Assist Red-dot laser for bounds checking Smart cooling Rise-and-fall bed, Super useful for engraving stuff on stuff
Checklist for induction - Trainers Guide to Laser Cutting on Bluey
This is a checklist of items to run through but the more detailed version is below
- Introduce the laser cutter and point all the functions i.e. the bed size, where the cooler is, the extractor fan, menu selector
- Make sure the coolant pump is on (mention recommended temp [25 or below] and it should come on automatically if the laser cutter is on)
- Talk about the emergency stop, water, fire extinguisher, fire alarm and when you should use them
- Open the cover. Mention the different parts, laser head, mirrors, lid switch for laser cut off (don't tamper with safety features)
- Autolevelling and manually moving the bed with bluey (note the limit switch and how a material should be placed for it)
- Talk about the menu and briefly mention what the buttons do but go into detail when demoing a cut. They don’t need to go into settings
- Pop open the bottom panel and show they can clean it out
- Mention the materials we supply and what materials are allowed
- Talk about the blue log book and money box. Mention the credit recording at the back of the book
- Mention why it's worth recording the time even if you don't care about how much money you pay
- Point out the offcuts pile
- Move to the computer. Prep a job (make it as small as possible) and send it to the laser cutter to show how lightburn works
- Show making a simple vector image with engraving and cutting a shape. Normally a shape with a cut, mark and engrave
- Power settings for these are in the cover of bluey notebook
- Mention the different options in lightburn and how you can manually tweak the settings
- Origin - how to set it
- Difference between run and send (just use send for now)
- Line and Fill (offset fill is spiral outwards from middle)
- On the laser cutter, after the job is sent, talk about the checks you want to do before the cut
- Position material and focus head
- Set origin
- Frame test
- Cut your piece
- Get them to do the same. I normally get them to draw a shape with a cut, mark and engrave.
- You have some time while the laser cutter is running to talk about relevant scenarios:
- Mention again what to do in a fire
- when to use emergency stop
- how to report issues with the laser and what issues to look out for
- Also remind them to record the time of the cut using the laser cutter display
- Stop the laser with the stop button after a few minutes to allow chiller to run
Advanced Steps (optional)
- Change the speed of the laser cutter to move the head around more slowly
- Change the speed and power while the job is running. Pause the job and adjust settings
- Minimum power settings
- Engraving a jpeg image
- Offset fill
Operating the laser cutter
- The coolant pump must be running before cutting starts. This is a metal box under the laser cutter which has a two-digit temperature display when switched on.
- Leave the coolant pump on for at least 5 minutes after cutting finishes.
- Fume extraction must run while the laser is cutting. This starts automatically when the laser is working. If the extraction doesn't appear to be working, stop cutting.
- Stay close to the laser cutter and watch it at all times when it's cutting. Fires can start very quickly.
- Don't use the controls if someone is doing something on the bed
In the event of fire / emergency
- There is an emergency stop button on the front that is functional, this will turn everything off and is recommended as a power off switch. The turn switch will just stop the laser firing as well as opening the lid.
- If there is a fire you can safely fight it use the CO2 extinguisher available next to the laser
- If you can't do either of these, leave the space immediately, and call 999. The address is Wellington House, Pollard Street, Manchester, M40 7FS
Problems other than fires
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FIX THE CUTTER YOURSELF.
If the laser cutter does anything out of the ordinary please make sure it's reported to a laser maintainer. This can be done through the laser cutter telegram channel. If the response is "please put the out of order sign on the cutter" then do that. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FIX THE CUTTER YOURSELF. If it is clearly not functioning, put the out of order sign on it and then report it. We will fix it as soon as possible.
Even if the laser cutter didn't work, let the chiller run for 5 mins before turning off.
- Green - starts whatever job is loaded last or pauses the cut
- Z - raise or lower the bed
- U - rotate the rotary unit (not used)
- Pulse - fires short pulse that can be configured, normally used for alignment
- Focus - Auto level the bed to focus on material (WARNING- make sure your material will touch the push sensor behind the lens)
- Power / Speed - adjust before or during a job
- Origin - Set starting point for job
- Home - sets head back to 0,0
- Reset - restarts controller and zeros temporary values i.e. z height
- Square/Sine wave - sets movement mode continuous or sections (section length needs to be set)
Using Lightburn for laser cutting
Bluey uses lightburn which is paid for licensed software. The Mac in Visual Arts has lightburn installed and it is already licensed.
You can download lightburn from https://lightburnsoftware.com/pages/download-trial.
You will need the profile for bluey which is available here. The profile can be imported through the devices section in the bottom right.
If you want to buy lightburn this is the license you need for Bluey.
Hacman have negotiated a discount that gives you 75% off (but if you are using the software with any other laser cutter consider buying a full licence). The code is given on the member page after you’ve passed training.
Note: We do not support RDWorks but that can be an option to use.
Lightburn is the software that converts vector files into the code that drives the laser cutter.
It has a great guide here well worth a read, if you want use the laser cutter for advanced techniques.
After you install the software, there is a help screen and then it will invite you to setup a device. Import Bluey’s config from here.
- Square Frame moves the laser to show a rectangle boundary around the shape(s)
- Circle Frame moves the laser to draw the actual outlines of shape(s)
- Send will send the file to the laser cutter to store in memory
- Start will start the job without storing the file on the laser cutter
- Pause you can pause a job while running (TBC)
- Stop will stop the job and reset the laser head (TBC)
- Save RD File
- Run RD File
- Optimise Cut Path
Laser operations in lightburn
Layers and Ordering
Engrave vs Cut
output, show, adjust speed and power
- Absolute - cut the shape as it is in lightburn
- User position - uses origin set by laser cutter and displays that in lightburn as a green box
- Current position - like user position but uses whatever position the laser is in at the moment i.e. not the origin set by the laser cutter
Positioning the part
Focus button for auto levelling or manually level bed with Z buttons.
Set the origin point using the laser cutter control panel (if needed)
- For cutting materials up to 6mm it's best to have the z height set to bed level.
- For cutting materials over 6mm, try to keep the z height 6mm into the material. Multiple passes may be needed.
- For engraving set the focal point to the height of the material by placing the guide on top of it.
- If you want crisp engraving on thick stock, you will need to do a 2-stage engrave / cut with the focal point initially set to the top of your material, and then re-set to the correct height for your cut.
- If your material has a protective cover, try to leave the cover on both sides of the material, or if only one side the bottom (not the top)
(insert picture of laser bed with part)
Test the Laser positioning
Next we're going to do a boundary test to make sure the laser cutter is working on the area we think it's going to:
- Send the job from lightburn or use the frame buttons in lightburn
- Press frame on the laser cutter
- This can be done with the lid open to assist in placing your part, however please keep your hands/hair/ties out of the way of the moving parts.
Do the cut
At this stage you should now be ready to do the cut for real.
- Send the job to the laser cutter
- Make sure the lid is closed, The laser won't fire with it open.
- Check the coolant pump is still working and the temperature is below 25.
- On the screen select the job and hit start
- Keep watching the laser while it cuts to check nothing goes wrong (e.g. fires)
- Check the extraction fan is working (you can tell either by the noise it makes, or by vibration of the exhaust hose).
- Make a note of the time at the end of the job in the log book
- Turn off laser cutter after 5 minutes
(insert picture of files screen on controller)
Logging and payment
- There is a blue log book for keeping track of usage of the laser. Please write down your name and the length of time you've used the laser for in the front of the book.
- The laser is currently billed by 10 minute or 1 hour increments, with the rate written on the laser cutter.
- Laser fees can be paid in cash into a box near the laser, using the payment terminal in the snackspace or from your member balance at the members' system laser page.
- If you owe the laser fund money or have some credit (e.g. have paid with a £10 note and only used £3) record your balance at the back of the log book.
(insert picture of time elapsed screen and blue book)
Things to not worry about
- U+ or U-
- General settings
You will need to cover:
- Safety again
- Using the on device controls (emergency stop, control panel buttons)
- Sending files to laser cutter using lightburn
- Difference in nomenclature (frame vs boundary)