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Revision as of 14:17, 7 December 2019 by Stever (talk | contribs) (Suitable Materials for Laser use: we'll be a bit freer with power now)

Pirahna 1060 Laser Cutter


Pirahna 1060 Laser Cutter/Engraver

The laser cutter is one of our most heavily used tools, it's a 90W CO2 laser system with a 1000mm x 600mm bed. At the moment we limit the power output of the laser to 68W in order to extend the life of the laser tube as that's the most expensive consumable part of the laser system. At this setting it's able to cut a variety of materials including Acrylic (up to 15mm thick), MDF (up to 10mm thick) and Plywood (up to 12mm thick), pine board (up to 15mm thick) and can be used to make a huge range of items from light fittings to jigsaws. Owing to it's expense and delicacy the laser cutter requires members to have an induction before they can use it.

Current Status

Date Status Comment
27th August 2019 Fully Operational Power limit raised to 90% as this tube seems a little weaker than the old one and we're willing to wear it out faster.

Suitable Materials for Laser use

List of suitable materials for use with the laser, please note that the maximum cut thickness is only a very approximate guide as materials vary greatly and you may not be able to get anywhere near these figures with your material. Generally materials that are specifically rated for use with laser cutters will tend to be made from materials that cut more easily and make less mess which tends to mean the deeper cuts are possible. The power limit on the laser can be removed enabling 100% power, but as this drastically shortens the life of the tube it will only be done in exceptional circumstances where no other technique can work. If you think your job qualifies speak to any of the laser maintainers about it.

Material Cut? Etch? Max cut thickness Notes
Acrylic (PMMA,Plexiglass) Yes Yes 15mm Cuts very cleanly, leaves white powder when etching
Plywood Yes Yes 12mm Older/reclaimed plywood might produce toxic fumes. Laser-rated ply cuts cleanest and deepest
MDF Yes Yes 10mm Older/reclaimed MDF might produce toxic fumes. Some MDF's are treated with fire retardant and MUST NOT be used with laser
Cardboard Yes Difficult N/A High fire risk, must be cut quite quickly and watched constantly
Steel No Maybe N/A Some steels can just barely be surface etched, engraving or cutting is impossible
Aluminium No Sort of N/A Anodised surfaces can be marked, the metal can't be cut or etched at all
Other Metals No No N/A Copper and Brass cannot be affected at all by the laser and may harm the laser cutter
Rubber Yes Yes Unknown There a specific laser-rated types of rubber than can be cut and etched
Leather Sort of Yes Patterns including stitch patterns are easily etched, cutting is possible but tends to give very burnt edges and terrible smell
Linoleum Yes Yes Unknown Genuinue Linoleum can be cut and etched to make printing blocks, modern synthetic lino is made of PVC and MUST NOT be used.
Cotton Yes Yes N/A Cut at high power and very high speed to avoid burning
Polyester/Nylon cloth Yes No N/A Cut at the highest speed possible, will melt the edges and fuse them

Laser Troubleshooting

Here's some common issues that crop up on the laser and how to fix them

Symptom Cause Fix
Bed won't rise high enough The head has been knocked and moved upwards, preventing it from focusing properly on thin sheets To fix it home the laser both in the XY and the Z modes, place the focus block under the head while at the home position, and then turn the knurled ring on the red tube to release the head, make sure to be holding it so it doesn't drop out!

Set the head height so that it's just touching the focus block while in that position and tighten up the knurled ring again, you'll now have the head in the proper focus position and can cut using normal procedure.

Not Enough Extend Space error on the laser panel You have the workpiece too close to one of the limits of the laser and the head does not have enough space to move around and complete the job. Move your workpiece a few millimeters away from the edge of the machine and re-run the job.

Planned Upgrades

Parts and upgrades that are planned/Budgeted/Purchased for in the near future

  • Add dynamic auto-focus system apparently supported by controller
  • Create long-focus lens system for deeper cutting

Pirahna 1060 Caretakers


The following people are able to provide inductions on the Pirahna 1060

Name/Contact Notes


These are the people who look after and repair the Pirahna 1060, they're the ones to contact if there's any problems with it

Name Notes
Steve-R In reading around 50% of the time, fast response if in reading

Recent Changes

If you make any non-trivial changes to the Pirahna 1060 or perform maintenance please note it here, delete records older than 1 yr

  • New focus block made that more accurately reflects the actual focal length. Stever (talk) 17:25, 3 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Startup logo changed from Chinese lady to rLab logo Stever (talk) 08:05, 21 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Air lines cleaned, air filter and spark catcher cleaned/replaced. Lens replaced. Stever (talk) 13:21, 2 October 2019 (UTC) & JMF
  • Optical path realigned, frame distortion checks made but without conclusive result, air filter changed. Stever (talk) 14:56, 26 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Mirrors realigned, water changed and new filter fitted, frame leveling continues to progress. Stever (talk) 14:46, 23 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Mirror 1 and Mirror 2 realigned. Mirror 2's top adjuster's locking ring, found to be completely undone, presumably from vibration. Mirror 1 found to be pointing down, and Mirror 2 found to be pointing to the left. Noted that the Y slider has a slight "hump" in the middle. Ruperte (talk) 11:42, 6 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Water changed again and new water filter installed to hopefully keep biofilms at bay. Aiming laser aligned and made functional. Main beam alignment checked, slightly out but will not be adjusted yet to allow for frame settling. Stever (talk) 18:33, 12 April 2019 (UTC)
  • New tube fitted and aligned, coolant replaced and cooling system cleaned, aiming laser installed, desk modified, laser feet fully deployed Stever (talk) 02:34, 3 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Optical Path clean and re-aligned, tube is starting to show signs of age, at next re-aligment carefully check beam roundness at all points. Stever (talk) 07:57, 17 February 2019 (UTC)
  • The entire optical path has been thoroughly cleaned and re-aligned. Stever (talk) 17:43, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Ethernet port has been relocated to the back panel and fitted with industrial connector Stever (talk) 18:06, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
  • 3 redundant switches on the right side of the laser have been removed and blanked off, sockets on the back of the laser are now permanently live. Stever (talk) 11:25, 22 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Current control dial has been relocated to inside the laser and locked at maximum since it wasn't being used and provided an opportunity for things to go wrong if mis-set Stever (talk) 16:16, 21 October 2018 (UTC)

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