Full Spectrum Laser Cutter
How to use
!!Before using the laser cutter, you must first get training through an intro class or get signed off on it by the manager!!
The following is a handy reference for the steps to go from a design to the GCode that will run on the laser cutter.
Making a GCode file
On the computer for the laser cutter, there is a version of VCarve Pro that is set up to work well. Please avoid changing anything if not necessary. Since this is the same program used for the CNC routers, please do not use the program on this one for the CNC Routers as they have different settings like clearance height, feedrate, etc etc.
- Open VCarve Pro on the Laser Cutter Computer
- Draw/Load your design into the program
- !!Go to "Edit", "Job Size and Position", and make sure the "XY Datum" is set to the bottom left corner!!
- Open the Toolpaths tab on the right side of the screen. Hit the pin icon in the top right corner.
- Select one or more of your drawing objects, then click on the "Profile" toolpath button
- Under the "Tool" section, click the "Select" button, and find one of the tools named "LASER". There are multiple, each set up with a different power % for convenience.
- If you need a specific power %, please create a new tool or modify one that has "TEMP" in the name.
- Enter in your desired power % in the "Spindle Speed" textbox.
- Enter in the speed in the "Feedrate" textbox.
- Ensure that it is only going to do 1 pass. If it is not, you can click the "Edit Passes" button and make it one pass.
- In the "Machine Vectors" section, select "On" so that the laser will follow right on the line of your drawing.
- Scroll to the bottom in the Toolpaths tab and hit "Calculate"
- If the preview looks good, hit "Close" on the bottom right and click on the "Save Toolpath" button (which looks like a floppy disk)
- Save the toolpath using the Post Processor named "J TECH GRBL (MM) (*.gcode)"
After that, you will want to copy the file over to a flash drive or put it on a local server so you can reach it from the laser cutter computer.
Running the Laser Cutter
- Turn on the power strip with all the components for the laser cutter and computer
- Ensure all external components are on: Fume Hood, Air Compressor, Water Pump
- You may need to turn on the fume hood manually
- Open the Pronterface program
- Click Connect (usually connected to COM4)
- Click Load File, and find your file.
- Look at the preview and verify that is the correct file
- Place your material in the bed of the laser cutter, making sure it is well-aligned and parallel to the sides of the machine
- Insert key and turn on the main power for the laser cutter
- Use the interface in Pronterface to move the laser cutter to the bottom left corner of your material