Big Blue Laser
|Serial #||N/A ??|
|Usability||Working (See Notes)|
|Instructions||This Wiki and the blue manual by the machine|
|Replacement Cost||A Lot|
|Maximum Board Size||12"x20"|
|Any other useful info||?|
The Big Blue Laser is great for cutting and engraving thin materials (up to 1/4" thick) that burn - such as plastic and wood. It cannot cut or engrave metal. It has a 40 Watt laser and a cutting area of about 10" x 20".
Important safety information.
- MAKE SURE THE VENT GATE IN THE WINDOW IS SET TO OPEN WHILE OPERATING
- Wear the Laser Safety Glasses Whenever looking at the Laser
- Never put your hands inside when the machine is running - the cutting laser is invisible!
- Keep the lid closed when running the machine and while it is not in use
There should be a computer next to the 3D printers.
RD Works is loaded on it. The password for the computer is Fox.Build. If a file is loaded on this computer you can transfer the file to the laser cutter.
You can can also download RDWorks onto any windows computer and follow the instructions on the front of the laser cutter for setup.
RD works can accept many types of image files but most end up being scans. To actually cut outlines you need a vector file. I have had good luck with DXF files but scale is often off. You also have to be careful about center-lines on circles and delete them before importing. From Solidworks, I have been able to make 2D drawings of my parts, and cut and paste the 2D drawings onto one file to be able to cut multiple files at once. If the drawing scale is in millimeters and 1:1 the DXF files have been coming out quite well.
Import dxf to Rdworks on the computer between the 3D printers. Inkscape SVG → Save as .dxf or output from CAD. Image files like jpg, png or GIFs can be used for scanned images but the laser will not cut the lines all the way though. Used for engraving only. Draw you own basic shapes in Rdworks Worry about layout in Rdworks. Anything you bring in as a .dxf will be much easier to adjust and be at least 10 times faster to cut. Again SVG → Inkscape → Save as DXF → Import to Rdworks
The Big Blue Laser will cut up to ¼” in materials that will burn, such as Wood, plastic, cardboard, leather. Do not put in vinyl or Lexan (Polycarbonate). The fumes are poisonous.
Power and Cutting Speeds
Speed and power is trial and error. Start with a spare piece of a similar material and see what looks good.
Acrylic – 10 mm/s @ 80% to cut 0.1”
Wood – 8 mm/s @ 80% to cut 3mm wood. Slower for 5-6mm.
Scan is meant to run faster 50-200 mm/s and it is run at a lower power.
Click on a layer in RDworks and you can adjust the power and speed.
Check out this Youtube video for some great tips. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dz8w9rlrHc
For acrylic, I have been struggling to get a good press fit. The press will be different with different speeds. Wood does not seem to be as sensitive. I have found that for 2.2mm acrylic, 1.76 mm is loose on a 2mm shaft and 1.74 cracks. I am seeing some promise on an ellipse with 1.74mm on the minor diameter and 1.8mm on the major.
Tips and Tricks
Focus your work. (Use the 6mm acrylic piece on the side of the machine with the red ribbon. The toggle switch on the side of the laser moves the platform up and down.
Make sure air is blowing from the nozzle and the water pump is going.
Keeping the lid on while cutting will prevent you from cutting off your fingers.
The bow of a sheet will make the difference between cutting through and not cutting. Use weights around the sheet to flatten it if necessary.
If you are just cutting, check if everything cut and if not, run it again.
The speed of a cut will change the kerf. If you want consistent parts, use the same speeds.
Small parts that jump when cut out can hit the nozzle and move the work. Cut them last. You can change cut order by placing them in the lower left corner or with layers.
There is a way to offset the laser call sew compensation. Use this if the 0.1mm kerf is an issue. You can cut on either side of the line by adding a positive number for outside and negative number for inside.
When etching acrylic the cast sheets work better than the extruded sheets.
1/4 “sanded exterior plywood” from Home Depot cuts and marks really well. 60% power, 7-8mm/s to cut.
Your First Project
Steps here for a simple first project.
Your Second Project
Steps here for a slightly more advanced second print after doing the first.