We have a GCC LASERPro Elite 40W CO2 engraving/cutting system (acquired Fall/Winter 2007/2008) from ISS Sales .

external image 2093057514_61606a849a_m.jpg

Wikipedia entry about Laser Engravers is here, cutting here .

  • Ours is a relatively small scale, low power unit that is designed to mark or cut organic materials such as paper, wood, plastic etc. It is NOT designed for marking and cutting metal (unfortunately). If you need something that is very fast, and very powerful, and can cut through 1/4" stainless steel (for instance), use an outside vendor such as Superior Cutting .
Our LASER uses 2D vector/curve/path graphics data, such as that created in AutoCAD, Adobe Illustrator, Rhino, etc and uses it to guide a CO2 laser through flying optics positioned using a gantry style CNC positioning system. Unlike CNC milling machines and the like, there is no g-code post processing - the image is simply "printed" using a fairly standard Windows printer driver. Unfortunately, at this time, the file does have to be opened, altered/checked, and sent to the laser using CorelDraw (which we currently have only one seat of). Functions such as engraving vs cutting, or switching between materials is accomplished through color coding. Each curve can be given its own color, and those colors can be assigned different power/speed settings to accomplish different cutting depths/penetration.

Engraving is typically accomplished using high speed/low power.

Cutting is typically accomplished using low speed/high power.

Some of the preliminary settings we were given by the vendor for various materials/functions are .

These are our pen settings for the Laser cutter as of right now. These colors can be varied along with their functions. Why is this relevant? Answer: If different attributes are to be achieved in the same file each individual attribute must have a different color. An example of this is if I want both etching and cutting on a part I would have one color dedicated to cutting and one color dedicated to etching.
i.e. generally black(1) is used for etching and Red(2) is for cutting.

Colors
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
R
0
255
0
255
0
255
0
255
128
255
128
255
128
128
0
128
G
0
0
255
255
0
0
255
128
255
255
128
128
255
128
128
128
B
0
0
0
0
255
255
255
128
128
128
255
255
255
128
128
0
Coreldraw palletAdobe Illustrator

To use the LaserColors swatch pallet
1. Download file to a destination of your choosing
2. Open an Ilustrator document
3. Open swatches pallet
4. Click on swatch libraries menu
5. Select other library and locate LaserColors file
*After this has been done once the pallet can be accessed again on another document by open swatch pallet>user defined>Laser Colors

Creating a Laser File

First one must know our laser capabilities, the main one being the ability to cut and to etch certain types of flat material. This can be achieved through a wide array of variable settings. You can set up a file in a number of ways each giving a different result including:
Black and White: Black and white mode is most commonly used for etching objects and interprets all color as grayscale.
street-havana-grayscale.jpg

Manual Color Fill: This mode is most commonly used for cutting material. In this mode we can dedicate separate properties to 16 different specific RGB colors (featured on website). Most often Red is used for cutting.
Screen_shot_2009-09-23_at_5.04.07_PM.png
Rotary Axis: We have the capability of placing a rotary axis in our laser to etch cylindrical objects. The etching that can be done on these objects is dependent on the slope and curvature of the object so please consult us before intending to us this option.
DSCN2213.JPGDSCN2217.JPG

File Preparation

  • Files are to be made in Adobe Illustrator in flattened Ai. format (i.e. no layers). Files in any other program other than Illustrator or Corel Draw will not translate. InDesign and Photoshop might be sweet but are not an industry standard in mechanical production.

Try to stay away from Live Trace if at all possible. Especially if it produces a bunch of small detail less than 5x5 mm. in size.
  • Those files containing both etching and cutting should have etching in Black and cutting in Red
  • Files containing text should be outlined with no stroke to prevent the possibility of text substitution when imported for laser use
Screen_shot_2009-09-23_at_4.33.37_PM.png


  • All files from Illustrator should be saved as non-compressed
    Screen_shot_2009-09-23_at_4.48.46_PM.png


  • If one is using a found picture without text it should be black and white/grayscale and saved in Tiff. format.
  • Vector and Raster files are the ideal file types for the laser.

Recommendations


  • Have a test piece of material handy
  • If positioning is critical please contact us for recommendations on file setup tips
  • It is not necessary but if possible make paths closed for easier file manipulation/selection
  • Outline your text
  • Stick around for the lasing process feedback and communication is crucial

Time


  • Time is dependent on the amount of work that the laser has to do and the settings required to do this work. Another time factor is the allotted laser use times.

Things That We Will Not/Prefer Not To Do


  • We are not a drop off/pick up service some time and interaction are required by users
  • We will not produce a mass quantity of a particular project. If this is desired one may spend some time under their supervision and guidance of us to achieve ones desired amount under there own time.
  • Some materials can be rejected due to health risks, noxious smell, flammability, and etc.
  • The user is required to make the files necessary we don’t design your parts

We are always happy to answer any questions you might have.

Some Specs:

X max dimension is 29" (extended, 25" normal)
Y max dimension is 18"
Z table travel (not CNC controlled, manual) is about 10"

Our unit is designed to mark or cut the following materials:

Paper
Cardstock
Matt Board
Pressure sensitive vinyl
Various plastics up to 1/4" / 6mm
(Including acrylic, HDPE, polycarbonate, styrene, acrylic mirror etc)
Wood, MDF, some laminates

Material Available

Materials that we try to stock (and charge for) but may not necessarily have on hand include:

  • Clear Acrylic in approx. 1/16, 1/8, and 1/4 in. thick Size: 12 x 24in. and 24 x 24in.
  • Translucent Acrylic in Various Colors approx. 1/8, and 1/4 in thick Size: 12 x 24in.
  • Transparent Acrylic in Various Colors approx. 1/8, and 1/4 in thick Size: 12 x 24in.
  • Mirrored Acrylic in Various Colors approx. 1/8, and 1/4 in thick Size: 12 x 24in.
  • Styrene in white 1/16 thick Size 24 x 24in.

If a certain color or size of material is desired we may have a distributor recommendation.

Other materials possible at www.bur-lane.com

It cannot cut metal


It can cut material such as corrugated cardboard, but these materials are highly flammable due and cannot be used in our LASER

Pictures of the system, along with some of the things we have done with it, are here.

Here is an excellent online primer for setting up files for LASER cutting: http://www.customlasercutting.com/info/tutorials#cutting_file
Justin's Research Process

Laser FAQ (How to use the thing)