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Lasercamm Overview and Safety Guide

Fire, Material, and Safety Hazards

  • The Lasercamm cuts material using intense heat and compressed air to remove molten material. Due to the potential for fire, never leave the Lasercamm unattended while in operation.
  • Only cut approved materials listed in the Lasercamm software. Such as acrylic, wood, paper, and foamcore (Please ask if you have any questions). Never cut reflective materials such as metal (which will reflect back to the laser and damage it) and those which release toxic fumes when burned such as PVC.
  • Cover any portion of the honeycomb bed that you do not use with the Lasercamm bed covers. This keeps flames down and smoke off of the laser optics, reduces the risk of fires, and hold your part in place so it doesn't move.

  • Wait 30 seconds after the cutting is completed to allow any fumes to be exhausted before opening the Lasercamm cover.

  • In Case of an emergency, press the big round red EMERGENCY STOP button to turn off power to the entire system.
Lasercamm Care
  • The Lasercamm costs $100,000. So please take good care of it.
  • The honeycomb bed of the Lasercamm is delicate and costs $1000 to replace. Place parts on it with care.
  • Press the small square red STOP button to simply stop cutting and return the cutting head to its starting position.
  • Keep cutting times to a minimum (avoid overly complex scores) when there is a line.
  • And of course, when in doubt, do not hesitate to ask the Design Studio Manager Chris Cassidy, or your tutor/TA for help
  • Keep the honeycomb bed clean by vacuuming it after every use with the vacuum next to the Lasercamm.  
  • The Lasercamm is primarily for MAE class use.  For other UCSD uses please contact the Design Studio Manager Chris Cassidy.

File Preparation Overview

  1. Generate a dxf (Data Exchange Format) file. Typically by exporting from AutoCAD.

    1. Use separate layers for inside cuts, outside cuts, and scores.

    2. Keep AutoCAD layer names simple and without special characters. Also keep Window's files and folder names simple and without special characters.
  2. Load the dxf file onto the computers in the Lasercamm room room with a USB stick.

    1. Files made on Lasercamm 1 computer  WILL NOT work on Lasercamm 2, and vice versa.

  3. Use the Lasercamm software to create a dmc file.

    1. The material and sheet thickness are specified in the software.

    2. The order of the cuts can be controlled by specifying layers in the dxf file.

    3. Each layer creates a separate dmc file

    4. The dmc files are then combined into a single file for the cut.

    5. The outside cut should be last, since the part will fall toward the bed at the end of the outside cut and lose its position accuracy.

  4. Check your dmc file before sending it to the Lasercamm.

    1. Select “Estimate” to see the the time of cut, and size of the bounding rectangle.

    2. Select  “View” to see the geometry being cut (the dashed lines show the path of the laser when it is moving but not cutting). If you can't see your parts when you view them then they won't cutout on the Lasercamm.

  5. Send the dmc file to the Lasercamm.

  6. See Lasercamm Software Tutorials for details.

Cutting Your Part

  1. Raise the cover with 2 hands.

  2. Place your part on the Lasercamm bed.

  3. Cover open areas of the honeycomb with the cardboard bed covers in the room.

  4. Make sure to adjust the the lens focal length to the thickness of your material. This is the only non-software step - so please do not forget to do this.

    1. Always leave the focus as 0.25" when you are finished with the machine.

  5. Press the home button to move the cutting Tip/Nozzle to the lower left hardware position.

  6. Lower the cover with 2 hands.

  7. When the square light is green, use the Lasercamm software to send over the file.

  8. When the square is green again, press it to start cutting.

  9. ALWAYS remain with the machine while it is cutting your part. In case of an emergency use the large round red button to turn off power to the Lasercamm.

  10. Wait 30 seconds after the Lasercamm stops cutting for the fumes to clear.

  11. Lift the cover with 2 hands.

  12. Carefully take out your part.

  13. Remove all excess parts by hand or with a vacuum so the bed is clean for the next person.

Part Accuracy and Specifications

  • Lasercamm 1 has a 100 Watt CO2 laser.

  • The thickness of the laser beam is between 0.010” and 0.020” depending on the thickness of the part.

  • The placement of the laser beam is controlled by a leadscrew, which has a  resolution of  (+/-) 0.005"/ft.

  • The laser beam will melt plastic during a cut and when it re-hardens the accuracy will be reduced.

  • Due to the physics of the Laser beam, the edge will be concave, especially for thicker materials.  Accordingly precise round holes should be drilled and reamed after laser cutting.

How does the Lasercamm work?

A CO2 laser beam is directed through a set of mirrors to create the desired pattern on the horizontal place. The mirrors are moved along the X and Y axis with a large leadscrew mechanism that moves the laser head. An air jet blows material out and away from the beam after it is cut. A vacuum holds the parts against the honeycomb bed during the cutting operations, and removes fumes.