Laser Cutter Tutorial
The laser cutter/engraver requires constant monitoring to ensure the safety of you and others in the makerspace. You must follow these rules when using the laser cutter/engraver:
Never leave the laser when it is operating.
The laser requires constant supervision during the entire cutting and engraving process. Exposure to the laser beam may cause ignition of combustible materials which can lead to a fire.+_
Laser cutters are only operable while staff with training are present to monitor.
Remember the buddy system- there must be a second person within earshot of you while working on the laser.
Be prepared with a fire extinguisher.
Any operation of the laser system is a potential fire hazard.
Most, if not all, materials are combustible in certain circumstances. Acrylic is especially flammable when vector cutting. Wood, paper, and plastics can all combust.
Notify a technician immediately, even if a fire is small and easily extinguished. It’s important to know why it occurred, assess any damage, and prevent it from repeating. Any fire lasting more than half a second must be controlled. The first steps are to cancel the laser job and to open the door of the laser.
Clean the area and the laser.
Clean around the machine and keep the area free of clutter. A buildup of cutting and engraving residue and debris is dangerous and can create a fire hazard.
Regularly remove the Vector Cutting Table to clean any small pieces that have fallen through the grid.
Step 1: Preparing your file
You can prepare the design that you want to cut or engrave ahead of time to use time efficiently.
We primarily use Adobe Illustrator in the Makerspace and in this tutorial. Adobe Illustrator is available to all Clemson community for free. Visit the Adobe Studio webpage to learn more about installing Adobe software on your personal computer.
Create a new file
Prepping your file
Using the laser to cut
Using the laser to engrave
Save your file
Step 2: Print settings
Show up to your reservation on time :)
Open your file in Adobe Illustrator
Using the computer associating with your reserved laser in the Makerspace, open your file in Illustrator.
Select File > Print
In Illustrator, to open the printing options.
Set your print settings
Make sure that the print settings are as shown:
Send to the Epilog Engraver WinX64 Fusion Printer.
Mark the placement as 0,0 (the top left corner).
When you're done, select Print.
Open the Epilog Job Manager
Look for the Epilog logo in the taskbar to open the Epilog Job Manager application.
Open the Jobs tab
In the upper left hand corner, click the Jobs tab.
Then, double click on your job.
Every material and task needs specific settings for speed, power, and frequency.
Find the recommended settings for your material and job and input them. If you have any questions, ask a makerspace intern!!
Make sure you turn off auto-focus.
Click raster to see what will be burned on the material.
Click vector to see what will be cut.
Click combined so that the laser receives both raster and vector instructions
This is a great time to ask a Makerspace Intern to check your settings. Grab anyone with a nametag for help.
Turn on power to the laser cutter
Check to make sure the laser cutter is on. If you're the first one using it for the day, it will be off.
Send to the machine
Click the printer icon to send the job to the laser cutter. The laser cutter must be turned on for this.
Step 3: Preparing the machine
Put your material in the laser bed
Open top door to load and position material. Make sure the material is positioned correctly within the engraving area, against the top left corner.
If necessary, clean off the vector cutting grid. Debris can be a fire hazard. Ask an intern for help if you do not know how to do this.
Focus the laser
The laser needs to be focused for each new material depth.
Then use the joystick to move the bed up or down until the material just touches the tip of the focus tool.
Remove focus tool
Close the top door
Turn on the air filter
Fume exhaust / FUMEX, to the right of the machine
Turn on the air compressor
To the right of the machine.
Time to print!
Using the arrows on the keypad on the laser, select Jobs. Use the joystick to find your job, if needed, but it typically should be the first job (it will be the name of your file in Illustrator).
Press the green Go button!
Don't leave yet!
Do not walk away from your laser project while the laser is on! You must stay and watch your project the whole time, to monitor for a fire.
Complete and pass the Laser Cutter Training Quiz
Reserve a time in the Watt Makerspace
At the start of your reservation, find an intern to complete the In-Person Laser Cutter Training. After completing both the online training quiz and the in-person training, you are authorized to use the laser cutters in the makerspace.