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Revision as of 19:49, 14 June 2020 by Stever (talk | contribs) (Recent Changes)

Pirahna 1060 Laser Cutter

This tool requires induction
Owing to it's dangerous nature, delicate nature, or expense, this tool requires that you be inducted on it's proper handling before use.


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
7th June 2020 Usable but mis-aligned Air system is fixed but the beam is mis-aligned and may cut at a bit of an angle

Suitable Materials for Laser use

This is a 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. This list is not exhaustive and if your material isn't listed here then please ask on the mailing list for advice. 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
PET Yes Yes(ish) 8mm Thin PET cuts fast and easily, thicker material tends to melt and brown a little at the edges, etching may leave melted residue
Polystyrene Yes Yes 8mm Cuts OK but does tend to leave sticky residue on the bed that will require extensive cleaning
Polypropylene Yes(ish) Yes Unknown Not recommended, very prone to heat-distortion during cutting. Leaves a very sticky and hard to clean residue around the cut and on the nozzle
Polycarbonate No No N/A Polycarbonate is not allowed in the laser owing to terrible cuts and high fire risk
PTFE (Teflon) No No N/A Not allowed, causes damage to laser
PVC (Vinyl, Pleather, Fake Leather, Foamex) No No N/A Not allowed, causes damage to laser
Timber and other Wood Products
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
Pine board Yes Yes 18mm Cut depth varies enormously with timber type/moisture/treatments so 18mm is a max you may never get.
Mahogany Yes(ish) Yes 6mm Very prone to charring and hard to cut, but engraves very nicely
Oak Yes Yes 8mm Cutting is difficult and unreliable on thicker pieces but etching gives excellent results
Cardboard Yes Difficult N/A High fire risk, must be cut quite quickly and watched constantly
Paper Yes No N/A Cuts extremely fast, etching will usually just put holes through it.
Steel No Maybe N/A Some steels can just barely be surface etched or very lightly engraved. Cutting is impossible
Stainless Steel No Sort of N/A The surface of stainless can be marked lightly but cannot be etched, engraved or cut.
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 are specific laser-rated types of rubber than can be cut and etched
Leather Sort of Yes Unknown Patterns including stitch patterns are easily etched, cutting is possible but tends to give very burnt edges and terrible smell
Linoleum Yes Yes Unknown Genuine 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
Granite No Yes N/A Etching works OK at fairly low speeds, Cutting is impossible. Thorough cleaning of laser afterwards is required to remove abrasive dusts
Glass No Yes N/A Glass can be etched however care is needed as heat build-up tends to result in the glass shattering, thinner glass is most vulnerable to this. Thorough cleaning of laser afterwards is required to remove abrasive dusts

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.
"Frame Slop" error displayed

The job is asking the machine to move outside it's bed area because:

The Origin position is not set right

The Origin mode is not set to "current position"

The job is too large for the machine

Check the origin is set where you expect (usually top right)

Set the origin mode (next to origin position) to "Current Position"

Maximum job size is 999mm x 599mm or a bit less for job involving etching

Be aware that when you clear the error on the control panel the head may crash into the limits, be ready on the E-stop button

"Water Error" is displayed

No access card in card reader

Lid not closed

Water chiller not running

Low water level

Put your card in the reader, if you're inducted then access will be granted

Close the lid.....

Turn on the chiller.....

Ask on the mailing list for help

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
  • Sort out camera aim/align system

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

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

  • Partial Beam re-alignment done, laser functional but full realignment needed soon. Stever (talk) 18:49, 14 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Fit complete new air-line system and replace electronics bay fan. Stever (talk) 06:17, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
  • Patch air line (temporary fix). Clean water chiller filters, top up water. Change air assist filter. Clean HV PSU and re-adjust current limit. Fit new lens and #3 mirror. Crude re-align. Make new focus block. Stever (talk) 15:07, 11 April 2020 (UTC)
  • 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)

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