From rLab

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[edit]

Date Status Comment
9th April 2022 Fully Functional Now realigned

Suitable Materials for Laser use[edit]

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, if you're not sure if a material might contain PVC then ask any maintainer to test it before use
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
Cork Yes(ish) Yes 5mm Cuts terribly with a lot of charring, etches very dark
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
Polished metals NO! NO! N/A Reflective metal surfaces may harm the laser or put you in danger! Dull finished metals only!
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[edit]

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, move head to middle of working area, place the focus block under the head while at this position with no work under it, 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. This usually happens with etching because the machine needs a short "run-up" on either side of the etched area to get to proper speed before the etching begins. 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 fully closed

Water chiller not running

Low water level

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

Check nothing is obstructing the lid

Turn on the chiller.....

Ask on the mailing list for help

Planned Upgrades[edit]

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
  • Add X and Y axis max limit sensors

Pirahna 1060 Caretakers[edit]


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[edit]

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

  • Cleaning, beam profile testing, tube realignment, beam path realignment, mirror replacement, lens replacement, filter replacement, bed leveling, focus testing and adjustment, relubrication. With Ru Stever (talk) 17:11, 9 April 2022 (BST)
  • Replace left side lid sensor Stever (talk) 18:59, 10 March 2022 (UTC)
  • Clean, check all electrics, clean optics but no realignment Stever (talk) 18:59, 9 March 2022 (UTC)
  • Beam realigned, all mirrors and lens cleaned, rails cleaned and relubricated. Stever (talk) 14:08, 3 January 2022 (UTC)
  • Laser checked and realigned, dust system cleaned and potential leak fixed, bed levelled, thorough cleaning. Laser tube is showing parasitic CEM mode and anticipate replacement needed this year. Stever (talk) 15:26, 20 August 2021 (BST)
  • Clean lens and Mirrors 2&3, all in good condition. Change spacer block to correct size, check airflow (reduced to 1.2m/s but still OK) Stever (talk) 22:14, 28 July 2021 (BST)
  • Realigned due to poor cutting. Mirror 2 angled too far left, so almost completely missing the housing. Also the actual main laser tube is now slightly too high. Didn't change as this will require a full moving out of the entire machine, so I've averaged out the error as best I can for now, but will need doing soon. Ruperte (talk) 23:20, 4 July 2021 (BST)
  • HT PSU enable relay reported not to be powering off, after first switch on. Found wiring error with the new transient suppressors. It turns out the supplied diagram for the replacement relay was wrong, so the suppressor was accidentally wired between common and coil. This has been corrected and is now wired between Common and Normally Open. It should be noted that even after the switch 3 is turned off, the relay disconnected right away, but the HT PSU takes about 10 seconds to fully drain it's caps, so the laser can be weakly fired during that time period. Ruperte (talk) 15:20, 24 June 2021 (BST)
  • Lens replaced, some signs of dust in the air system, possibly polypropylene makes dust fine enough to pass filter? Stever (talk) 21:56, 16 June 2021 (BST)
  • Laser intermittently not firing or stopping mid job. Switch 3 on side replaced, and HT PSU enable relay found to have bad contacts. so replaced, now working normally Ruperte (talk) 14:24, 1 June 2021 (BST)
  • Deep clean bed and inside of machine. Re-lube Z-Axis leadscrews. Test water pump for leaks. Jmf (talk) 20:17, 10 April 2021 (BST)
  • Fully enable Z-height control functions to allow multi-depth engraving Stever (talk) 14:44, 16 November 2020 (UTC)
  • Clean and re-lubricate linear bearings Stever (talk) 10:52, 9 November 2020 (UTC)
  • Deep clean, service, change air and water filters, rough re-alignment, replace lens and mirror #1 Stever (talk), Jmf (talk), Rupert & Tony 10:50, 4 November 2020 (UTC)
  • Deep clean bed and inside of machine. Re-lube the Z-Axis leadscrews. Jmf (talk) 12:03, 17 October 2020 (BST)
  • Replace HV power switch Stever (talk) 18:32, 1 October 2020 (BST)
  • 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)

Image Gallery[edit]