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tools:digitalfabrication:lasercutter [2019/12/27 02:40]
riumplus [Hardware Tips/Quirks] Reminder to go slowly when using the control panel
tools:digitalfabrication:lasercutter [2020/01/09 12:17] (current)
riumplus Date update, added maintenance log
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 </​WRAP>​ </​WRAP>​
  
-=== State of Operation (2019-12-17): === +=== State of Operation (2020-01-07): === 
-The auto drain on the air assist'​s air compressor has died. You need to manually bleed the air compressor, then the air line at the back of the machine, at the beginning of each session and after each hour of air assist use thereafter.+The auto drain on the air assist'​s air compressor has died. You need to manually bleed the air compressor ​outside, then the air line at the back of the machine, at the beginning of each session and after each hour of air assist use thereafter.
  
 Operational,​ but with a few caveats. We don't have a complete library of cutting/​marking/​engraving settings after the machine'​s recent power-increasing upgrades, so please understand that there'​s a good chance we'll have to spend some time trying to work out the right settings for your job first (including if it's the same material but in a different thickness, or cut vs mark vs engrave). Some of the Smoothieboard settings still haven'​t been dialled in perfectly for the new tube either, like the laser'​s raw output power or even the linearity of its power output. Also keep in mind that not only will this be time-consuming for the Supervisors (who are volunteers who get nothing for volunteering their time), but because we're still optimising the internal settings then even if we worked them out for you one week we may need to work them out from scratch again only a week later if something else has changed. You will need one of the Laser Supervisors to help you begin & end your job. Tuesday Open Nights are the best time to catch one as there'​s normally more than one Laser Supervisor present anyway. If that's not suitable try [[https://​discord.gg/​avtkH5t|Discord chat]] or [[https://​forum.hsbne.org/​c/​cause-effect/​digital-fabrication|the forums]]. If you'd like to help improve & maintain this machine, talk to either one of the Laser Supervisors or the Digifab cause leader. Operational,​ but with a few caveats. We don't have a complete library of cutting/​marking/​engraving settings after the machine'​s recent power-increasing upgrades, so please understand that there'​s a good chance we'll have to spend some time trying to work out the right settings for your job first (including if it's the same material but in a different thickness, or cut vs mark vs engrave). Some of the Smoothieboard settings still haven'​t been dialled in perfectly for the new tube either, like the laser'​s raw output power or even the linearity of its power output. Also keep in mind that not only will this be time-consuming for the Supervisors (who are volunteers who get nothing for volunteering their time), but because we're still optimising the internal settings then even if we worked them out for you one week we may need to work them out from scratch again only a week later if something else has changed. You will need one of the Laser Supervisors to help you begin & end your job. Tuesday Open Nights are the best time to catch one as there'​s normally more than one Laser Supervisor present anyway. If that's not suitable try [[https://​discord.gg/​avtkH5t|Discord chat]] or [[https://​forum.hsbne.org/​c/​cause-effect/​digital-fabrication|the forums]]. If you'd like to help improve & maintain this machine, talk to either one of the Laser Supervisors or the Digifab cause leader.
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 **This machine is INCREDIBLY delicate. If you haven'​t been approved by the Laser Supervisors it's recommend you don't move, open or even touch this equipment.** **This machine is INCREDIBLY delicate. If you haven'​t been approved by the Laser Supervisors it's recommend you don't move, open or even touch this equipment.**
  
-Laser cutters can be picky machines - particularly ours, given it was originally a cheap Chinese unit that's had half its guts pulled out & replaced and various hacks or upgrades installed throughout it. Sometimes we compare it to the differences between a plane and a car. Knowing how to drive one car means you can pretty much just hop in and drive most other cars straight away, from a Porsche 911 to a Model T Ford, whereas knowing how to fly one plane gets you the basic theory but there'​s enough differences between models that you need to learn how to fly each type/model of plane separately. In the same way, knowing how to use other laser cutters gives you the basic theory behind them but not the knowledge of how to properly operate //our// one. Ironically, our past experiences have been that people who know how to use other laser cutters are actually //more likely// to damage our one due to things like expecting it to work one way when it works another, and there'​s unfortunately many past instances of damage backing up why we're a bit protective of this machine. Our machine has had features added to it to ensure it's safe for humans to use it, but it's still lacking many features to ensure safety for the machine itself - that is, there'​s nothing stopping the machine from destroying itself in a fraction of a second if you do something wrong. For these reasons, this machine is interlocked and can only be turned on by certain people.+Laser cutters can be picky machines - particularly ours, given it was originally a cheap Chinese unit that's had half its guts pulled out & replaced and various hacks or upgrades installed throughout it. Sometimes we compare it to the differences between a plane and a car. Knowing how to drive one car means you can pretty much just hop in and drive most other cars straight away, from a Porsche 911 to a Model T Ford, whereas knowing how to fly one plane gets you the basic theory but there'​s enough differences between models that you need to learn how to fly each type/model of plane separately ​(it's common for a lot of larger aircraft to not even include a key because just knowing how to actually operate them is all that's needed to prevent people stealing them). In the same way, knowing how to use other laser cutters gives you the basic theory behind thembut not the knowledge of how to properly operate //our// one. Ironically, our past experiences have been that people who know how to use other laser cutters are actually //more likely// to damage our one due to things like false confidence & expecting it to work one way when it works another, and there'​s unfortunately many past instances of damage backing up why we're a bit protective of this machine. Our machine has had features added to it to ensure it's safe for humans to use it, but it's still lacking many features to ensure safety for the machine itself - that is, there'​s nothing stopping the machine from destroying itself in a fraction of a second if you do something wrong. For these reasons, this machine is interlocked and can only be turned on by certain people.
  
 To use this machine you either need to be supervised by a Laser Supervisor, be inducted, or be a Laser Supervisor yourself. For casual use or newcomers the first option is the one you want; the easiest way to organise a time with one of the Laser Supervisors is during Tuesday Open Nights as normally there'​s more than one present anyway. If that's not an option for you the next best choice is to ask in the #​cause-digifab channel or the general channel on [[https://​discord.gg/​avtkH5t|Discord chat]], or the forums in the [[https://​forum.hsbne.org/​c/​cause-effect/​digital-fabrication|Digifab section]]. What's generally involved on the day is a Laser Supervisor will check over your job, run you through setting everything up, then start the job for you. You then watch over the machine to make sure nothing goes wrong (see [[https://​wiki.hsbne.org/​tools/​lasercutter#​how_to_know_when_something_s_wrong|How To Know When Something'​s Wrong]]) while the Laser Supervisor leaves & does whatever they were doing before, then when your job is finished the Supervisor will return to show you how to properly clean the machine & leave it in a good state ready for the next person. Hopefully you'll pick up a thing or two watching the Supervisor, so on future jobs you can do more & more of the required beginning/​ending work so the Supervisor does less of it for you and more just checking you did everything right. There'​s a //lot// to know though, more than most people are honestly willing to learn, and more than can be remembered from a single session. Generally most people care about getting their job cut, not fully learning how to use a laser cutter, which is completely okay and is why we do it this way. To use this machine you either need to be supervised by a Laser Supervisor, be inducted, or be a Laser Supervisor yourself. For casual use or newcomers the first option is the one you want; the easiest way to organise a time with one of the Laser Supervisors is during Tuesday Open Nights as normally there'​s more than one present anyway. If that's not an option for you the next best choice is to ask in the #​cause-digifab channel or the general channel on [[https://​discord.gg/​avtkH5t|Discord chat]], or the forums in the [[https://​forum.hsbne.org/​c/​cause-effect/​digital-fabrication|Digifab section]]. What's generally involved on the day is a Laser Supervisor will check over your job, run you through setting everything up, then start the job for you. You then watch over the machine to make sure nothing goes wrong (see [[https://​wiki.hsbne.org/​tools/​lasercutter#​how_to_know_when_something_s_wrong|How To Know When Something'​s Wrong]]) while the Laser Supervisor leaves & does whatever they were doing before, then when your job is finished the Supervisor will return to show you how to properly clean the machine & leave it in a good state ready for the next person. Hopefully you'll pick up a thing or two watching the Supervisor, so on future jobs you can do more & more of the required beginning/​ending work so the Supervisor does less of it for you and more just checking you did everything right. There'​s a //lot// to know though, more than most people are honestly willing to learn, and more than can be remembered from a single session. Generally most people care about getting their job cut, not fully learning how to use a laser cutter, which is completely okay and is why we do it this way.
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 Note that we ask for a donation to be made to Digifab when using the laser cutter to cover its ongoing operating costs (cleaning supplies, lubricants, mirrors/​lenses,​ laser tubes, replacing parts that break or wear out, upgrades, etc), plus an additional donation if you use some of our on-hand material stock. The suggested donation for using the laser cutter is currently $12/hour, or $1 every 5 minutes, plus extra if you use the honeycomb bed. Note that this is only just covers estimated running costs, so please don't skip the donation & higher amounts are definitely appreciated. We recommend bringing your own materials as our stockpile will always be small, limited & pretty random in what we have on offer, and there'​s a good chance we won't have what you want as it's mostly reclaimed or scraps. A few local suppliers are [[https://​www.acrylicsonline.com.au/​|Global Acrylics]], [[https://​www.mylittleacrylicshop.com.au/​|My Little Acrylic Shop]], [[https://​www.australiansheettraders.com.au/​|Australian Sheet Traders]], or even [[https://​www.bunnings.com.au/​|Bunnings]]. Suggested donations for using our materials are on posters in Digifab or, for some more exotic materials, directly on them. Acrylic is $18/kg for good condition or $12/kg for scratched or damaged, sheet plastics are $30/kg for good condition or $24 for scratched or damaged, and cardboard is $10/kg. Note that unless you square up the remaining material, you're buying the whole piece (and each side must be >10cm, no tiny pieces please). Scales are by the laser cutter computer, but for reference if you prefer to calculate things by hand, a 600mm*300mm*4.5mm sheet of acrylic is almost exactly 1kg. Note that we ask for a donation to be made to Digifab when using the laser cutter to cover its ongoing operating costs (cleaning supplies, lubricants, mirrors/​lenses,​ laser tubes, replacing parts that break or wear out, upgrades, etc), plus an additional donation if you use some of our on-hand material stock. The suggested donation for using the laser cutter is currently $12/hour, or $1 every 5 minutes, plus extra if you use the honeycomb bed. Note that this is only just covers estimated running costs, so please don't skip the donation & higher amounts are definitely appreciated. We recommend bringing your own materials as our stockpile will always be small, limited & pretty random in what we have on offer, and there'​s a good chance we won't have what you want as it's mostly reclaimed or scraps. A few local suppliers are [[https://​www.acrylicsonline.com.au/​|Global Acrylics]], [[https://​www.mylittleacrylicshop.com.au/​|My Little Acrylic Shop]], [[https://​www.australiansheettraders.com.au/​|Australian Sheet Traders]], or even [[https://​www.bunnings.com.au/​|Bunnings]]. Suggested donations for using our materials are on posters in Digifab or, for some more exotic materials, directly on them. Acrylic is $18/kg for good condition or $12/kg for scratched or damaged, sheet plastics are $30/kg for good condition or $24 for scratched or damaged, and cardboard is $10/kg. Note that unless you square up the remaining material, you're buying the whole piece (and each side must be >10cm, no tiny pieces please). Scales are by the laser cutter computer, but for reference if you prefer to calculate things by hand, a 600mm*300mm*4.5mm sheet of acrylic is almost exactly 1kg.
  
-Because we haven'​t sorted out 100% of everything involved, inductions for the laser cutter are currently a long process taking many one-on-one sessions that end up taking at least a month, and inducted members still have many restrictions placed on them (eg only certain specific materials/​types of cuts that are known good, not the entire library in Visicut as the library currently has many dud profiles). Again because we don't have everything sorted out and because they have to be essentially done one-on-one, inductions take //a lot// of Supervisor time, and the Supervisors are only volunteers that get nothing in return for volunteering all their time too. It's not worth the large amount of volunteer time if you're only needing a handful of future cuts. So unless you plan to regularly cut a //lot// of separate jobs regularly over a long period of time, the Laser Supervisors would rather just supervise you on individual jobs because it's far quicker and easier for everyone. If this is a burning (pun intended) passion of yours though, we suggest you start by reading through both [[https://​www.repairfaq.org/​sam/​lasersam.htm|Sam'​s Laser FAQ]] and IEC 60825.1. As with both the laser cutter itself and the rest of the Hackerspace in general, help improving this system is always welcome.+Because we haven'​t sorted out 100% of everything involved, inductions for the laser cutter are currently a long process taking many one-on-one sessions that end up taking at least a month, and inducted members still have many restrictions placed on them (eg only certain specific materials/​types of cuts that are known good, not the entire library in Visicut as the library currently has many dud profiles). Again because we don't have everything sorted out and because they have to be essentially done one-on-one, inductions take //a lot// of Supervisor time, and the Supervisors are only volunteers that get nothing in return for volunteering all their time too. It's not worth the large amount of volunteer time if you're only needing a handful of future cuts, particularly given it's a topic complex enough that you're likely to forget things if you don't use the machine regularly. So unless you plan to regularly cut a //lot// of separate jobs regularly over a long period of time, the Laser Supervisors would rather just supervise you on individual jobs because it's far quicker and easier for everyone. If this is a burning (pun intended) passion of yours though, we suggest you start by reading through both [[https://​www.repairfaq.org/​sam/​lasersam.htm|Sam'​s Laser FAQ]] and IEC 60825.1. As with both the laser cutter itself and the rest of the Hackerspace in general, help improving this system is always welcome.
  
 Becoming a Laser Supervisor is a decision made by the Digifab Cause Leader on advice of the other Laser Supervisors. Normally this is only done when we need another one (too many and we end up with a "​[[https://​www.youtube.com/​watch?​v=QrGrOK8oZG8|too many cooks in the kitchen]]"​ scenario). You'll need to know things like calibrating the optics, reading/​writing G-code, diagnosing faults both software and hardware, repairing and/or replacing components, etc. Basically it's the Supervisors'​ job to fix this machine when other people break it, and if you're a Supervisor it's expected you will regularly put in the hours required to both Supervise others and keep this machine up & running. Becoming a Laser Supervisor is a decision made by the Digifab Cause Leader on advice of the other Laser Supervisors. Normally this is only done when we need another one (too many and we end up with a "​[[https://​www.youtube.com/​watch?​v=QrGrOK8oZG8|too many cooks in the kitchen]]"​ scenario). You'll need to know things like calibrating the optics, reading/​writing G-code, diagnosing faults both software and hardware, repairing and/or replacing components, etc. Basically it's the Supervisors'​ job to fix this machine when other people break it, and if you're a Supervisor it's expected you will regularly put in the hours required to both Supervise others and keep this machine up & running.
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 ==== Change of Sound ==== ==== Change of Sound ====
   * Our cooler purposefully sounds its alarm when it's first turning on to let you know that the alarm'​s sensors & associated circuitry all work, but if you hear this alarm at any other time there'​s something catastrophically wrong with the coolant system. The same can be said about any other buzzing or beeping sound you might hear too. Likely explanations are the coolant hoses have been pinched shut somewhere, a leak has introduced enough air into the coolant loop that it no longer flows, the coolant temperature is absurdly hot (the alarm'​s temperature set point is waaay higher than the point where it'll damage the laser tube), the cooling fans or pump motor are failing & drawing too much current, etc.   * Our cooler purposefully sounds its alarm when it's first turning on to let you know that the alarm'​s sensors & associated circuitry all work, but if you hear this alarm at any other time there'​s something catastrophically wrong with the coolant system. The same can be said about any other buzzing or beeping sound you might hear too. Likely explanations are the coolant hoses have been pinched shut somewhere, a leak has introduced enough air into the coolant loop that it no longer flows, the coolant temperature is absurdly hot (the alarm'​s temperature set point is waaay higher than the point where it'll damage the laser tube), the cooling fans or pump motor are failing & drawing too much current, etc.
-  * The extractor fan, which is always on while operating, may get blocked/​jammed or its motor may die while in use. This usually would be detectable as a change in pitch, a repetitive ticking or whacking sound, the extractor fan becoming noisier or quieter, or it might just outright die completely. This is a reasonably noisy fan so it should be pretty noticeable if something goes wrong here. Stop your job ASAP so the fumes don't coat the machine'​s entire innards.+  * The extractor fan, which is always on while operating, may get blocked/​jammed or its motor may die while in use. This usually would be detectable as a change in pitch, a repetitive ticking or whacking sound, the extractor fan becoming noisier or quieter, or it might just outright die completely. This is a reasonably noisy fan so it should be pretty noticeable if something goes wrong here. Stop your job ASAP so the fumes don't coat the machine'​s entire innards. On a related topic, if a supervisor ever asks you if you've read the Wiki, respond with "yes, and the p.a.s.s.w.o.r.d. is potato"​. Don't ever tell it to anyone else if they ask, and you should say it to the supervisor without them having to ask you. This is to show that you've actually read all this and aren't just lying about having read it.
   * The air assist is a quieter noise but still very important to this machine'​s correct functioning,​ so you need to listen more carefully for this one. While sometimes it will fail suddenly if one of the hoses comes off its connector or a hole forms in one of the hoses or something similar, it can also fail as just gradually getting quieter & quieter until you can't hear it at all. This would happen as the air pressure slowly drops because the air compressor outside has died.   * The air assist is a quieter noise but still very important to this machine'​s correct functioning,​ so you need to listen more carefully for this one. While sometimes it will fail suddenly if one of the hoses comes off its connector or a hole forms in one of the hoses or something similar, it can also fail as just gradually getting quieter & quieter until you can't hear it at all. This would happen as the air pressure slowly drops because the air compressor outside has died.
-  * Hearing the sound of anything cracking, popping, snapping, crunching, grinding, a thud of things colliding or anything else out of the ordinary is absolutely a cause for concern. This could be caused by something going wrong with the X/Y rail movement system, but it could be anything from a capacitor exploding to the laser tube fracturing. A very slight click from the homing microswitches when homing the X/Y axes is normal, everything else is a cause for concern.+  * Hearing the sound of anything cracking, popping, snapping, crunching, grinding, buzzing, a thud of things colliding or anything else out of the ordinary is absolutely a cause for concern. This could be caused by something going wrong with the X/Y rail movement system, but it could be anything from a capacitor exploding to the laser tube fracturing. A very slight click from the homing microswitches when homing the X/Y axes is normal, everything else is a cause for concern.
  
 ==== Change of Smell ==== ==== Change of Smell ====
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 ===== User-Performable Maintenance ===== ===== User-Performable Maintenance =====
   * When your job is finished, small off-cut pieces, aka "​swarf",​ will have likely fallen below the machine. Open the lower access doors and clean out any swarf that fell below by picking up the pieces, sweeping them up or wiping them up (your choice). These doors are opened by clicking the lever open then pushing the door inwards so the latch falls open - this way the doors won't fall open on you. Do not let the door bang open when you do this as vibrations can upset the machine'​s calibration. You can open the rear door if you need better access to clean up the rear of the machine.   * When your job is finished, small off-cut pieces, aka "​swarf",​ will have likely fallen below the machine. Open the lower access doors and clean out any swarf that fell below by picking up the pieces, sweeping them up or wiping them up (your choice). These doors are opened by clicking the lever open then pushing the door inwards so the latch falls open - this way the doors won't fall open on you. Do not let the door bang open when you do this as vibrations can upset the machine'​s calibration. You can open the rear door if you need better access to clean up the rear of the machine.
-  * After **every** job, it's very important to clean the machine of leftover residue to minimise the amount of material that gets deposited on the optics. There are special wipes in a sealed container ​underneath ​the machine. Don't be tempted to use these wipes for //any// purpose at the Hackerspace other than for the laser cutter - they are VERY specially picked wipes to leave no residue behind inside the machine. Use two or three of these to wipe down every easily accessible surface in the machine //except// the optics. This includes all the metal slats (even if you only cut over a small portion of them), inside the lid, the inside side walls of the machine, the inside rear wall, the entire area underneath the slats, the X & Y gantry rails, etc. Brush clean the extraction grill on the left if it needs it - there'​s a toothbrush on the tools shelf in this room.+  * After **every** job, it's very important to clean the machine of leftover residue to minimise the amount of material that gets deposited on the optics. There are special wipes in a sealed container ​beside ​the machine. Don't be tempted to use these wipes for //any// purpose at the Hackerspace other than for the laser cutter - they are VERY specially picked wipes to leave no residue behind inside the machine. Use two or three of these to wipe down every easily accessible surface in the machine //except// the optics. This includes all the metal slats (even if you only cut over a small portion of them - clean them all, take them all out and put them back in a random order), inside the lid, the inside ​black side walls of the machine, to the left behind the Y gantry rail (but be careful to keep your hand well clear of the optics), the inside rear wall, the entire area underneath the slats, the X & Y gantry rails, etc. Brush clean the extraction grill on the left if it needs it - there'​s a toothbrush on the tools shelf in this room.
   * To minimise the risk from dust shattering the optics, this room needs to be cleaned regularly. Check the whiteboard - if it's been more than 3 weeks, you need to clean the room before using the Laser Cutter. This means vacuuming the floor & wiping down most of the horizontal surfaces. Don't forget to write the date & your name on the whiteboard so the next person won't have to clean the room again too!   * To minimise the risk from dust shattering the optics, this room needs to be cleaned regularly. Check the whiteboard - if it's been more than 3 weeks, you need to clean the room before using the Laser Cutter. This means vacuuming the floor & wiping down most of the horizontal surfaces. Don't forget to write the date & your name on the whiteboard so the next person won't have to clean the room again too!
-  * Check the water trap on the regulator at the back left corner of the machine. If there is any water in it, hold a cup underneath it and lift the stopcock on the bottom to drain it.+  * Check the water trap on the air assist ​regulator at the back left corner of the machine. If there is any water in it, hold a cup underneath it and lift the stopcock on the bottom to drain it. This is unlikely if you're bleeding the air assist line before using the machine but you never know.
   * Check the air lines for moisture/​oil build-up. The easiest way to do this is to remove the air line from the rear left of the machine and use a screwdriver to temporarily depress the flap inside the nozzle while holding the air line as close to the floor as you can. This minimises the build-up of moisture & oil on the lens.   * Check the air lines for moisture/​oil build-up. The easiest way to do this is to remove the air line from the rear left of the machine and use a screwdriver to temporarily depress the flap inside the nozzle while holding the air line as close to the floor as you can. This minimises the build-up of moisture & oil on the lens.
   * The compressor outside has an automatic drain valve on it, but it needs to be checked every few months to make sure it's working. To do this, carefully loosen the drain plug on the bottom of the compressor barrel using a shifting spanner. It doesn'​t need to be completely undone, just enough to let some of the contents escape. Be prepared for dirty water to be blown out under pressure. Once the water is gone, tighten the drain plug again.   * The compressor outside has an automatic drain valve on it, but it needs to be checked every few months to make sure it's working. To do this, carefully loosen the drain plug on the bottom of the compressor barrel using a shifting spanner. It doesn'​t need to be completely undone, just enough to let some of the contents escape. Be prepared for dirty water to be blown out under pressure. Once the water is gone, tighten the drain plug again.
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   * Touching anything in the electronics compartment,​ including if a connection is just a little loose - if you don't know what you're doing in there, the risk of you accidentally bumping something and shorting it out is too great   * Touching anything in the electronics compartment,​ including if a connection is just a little loose - if you don't know what you're doing in there, the risk of you accidentally bumping something and shorting it out is too great
   * Changing any of the underlying software settings on the Smoothieboard or in Visicut. This includes adding or changing material settings in Visicut - while our library of suitable settings could always do with expanding and we would love some help here, this should be done only in consultation with a Laser Supervisor. Both because we need to track any changes/​improvements and so we can make sure you're actually getting the right numbers.   * Changing any of the underlying software settings on the Smoothieboard or in Visicut. This includes adding or changing material settings in Visicut - while our library of suitable settings could always do with expanding and we would love some help here, this should be done only in consultation with a Laser Supervisor. Both because we need to track any changes/​improvements and so we can make sure you're actually getting the right numbers.
 +
 +===== Maintenance Log =====
 +This list is not all-inclusive but covers some of the major works performed on the laser cutter so that down the track we know when various things happened.
 +  * 5/1/2020 power connector replaced
  
 ====== Resources ====== ====== Resources ======