Large Format Lasers

Rabbit 80w C0₂ Lasers

Tool Training

Learn to responsibly use our Large Format Lasers with this study guide. A class must be taken to gain clearance to use it unsupervised.

Experienced users who can demonstrate the safe, careful, and clean use of the equipment without instruction can test out of the class with our Clearance Test, scheduled by appointment only.

You can find this document in pdf format here.

Usage Highlights

Safety

  1. Check that your material is safe to use
  2. Listen for the exhaust when the laser powers on
  3. Stay by the laser while it’s running

Care

  1. Avoid collisions with the lens carriage
  2. Mirrored acrylic must be reflective side down
  3. Submit a maintenance request when needed.

Cleanup

  1. Vacuum the interior
  2. Recycle waste in laser scrap bins
  3. Empty bins when full

Personal Protective Equipment

Face Masks & Cleaning Kits are required at all times during the Pandemic

Tool Anatomy

Laser

  1. Lid – Absorbs the laser radiation and must be closed when running a job
  2. Exhaust – Allows for the efficient removal of fumes and particulate
  3. Maintenance Tag – Manually tracks the usability status with Green/Yellow/Red cards
  4. Lens Carriage – Houses the mirror, lens, and air assist
  5. Cutting Bed – 1200 x 900mm (~47” x 35”) Consists of a removable, magnetic honeycomb tray. Seated properly, it should feel stable & secure
  6. Emergency Stop – Reserved for emergencies. To deactivate and reset, you must twist the spring-loaded knob.
  7. Power Switch – Key switch turns the machine on and off 
  8. Control Panel – LCD interface with commands to operate the laser

Control Panel

  1. Jog X-axis and Y-axis
  2. Adjust Z-Axis
  3. Exit Menu/Return to main screen
  4. Select menu item
  5. Set Job Origin
  6. Trace the footprint of a job to check its size and placement
  7. Reset machine, Abort Job
  8. Pulse the laser to mark its precise location
  9. Adjust speed (mm/sec)
  10. Adjust power (0-100%) for the areas the laser approaches a node/edge
  11. Adjust power (0-100%) for the areas where the laser is mid-cut/mid line
  12. Retrieve file sent to the machine (job queue)
  13. Start job, pause job, resume job

Tool Safety

Common Hazards

FIRETOXIC FUMESLENS COLLISION
Listen for the exhaust. It should automatically  turn on with the laserBe mindful of the safety of your cutting materialLoad material with care
Vacuum beneath the cutting bed to prevent flammable build-upAvoid chlorinated plastics and other prohibited material on the listBe mindful when moving the cutting bed to vacuum
Avoid foam and other prohibited materialOff-gassing dangerous fumes like chlorine and cyanide is always a concernEnsure material is flat and will not collide with the lens carriage during operation
Always pause the laser if you need to step away from the machine

Prohibited Materials

MATERIALDANGER
Chlorinated plastics (PVC, vinyl, artificial leather,
Moleskine notebooks, polymer clay/Sculpey)
Emits chlorine gas
Polycarbonate/LexanCuts poorly, absorbs laser, discolors, may catch fire
ABSEmits cyanide gas, melts, bursts into flame
HDPE (milk bottle plastic)Catches fire & melts
Polypropylene foam (foam core, Styrofoam)Catches fire
FiberglassEmits dangerous fumes
Coated carbon fiberEmits dangerous fumes
Pressure treated woodEmits dangerous fumes
Galvanized metalEmits dangerous fumes
Mirrored surfaces, including uncoated metalWill not cut, reflects laser beam

Permitted Materials

MaterialsCutEtchMaterialsCutEtch
Solid woodXXMylar SheetXX
PlywoodXXOrganic FabricXX
MDF & LDF
(fiberboard)
XXLeather/SuedeXX
Paper, cardstock,
cardboard
XXNon-chlorinated
Rubber
XX
CorkXXGlassX
AcrylicXXCeramic TileX
Mirrored Acrylic
(reflective side down!)
XXStoneX
Delrin SheetXXAnodized &
Surface-treated
Metals
X

Pre-cut Setup

Raster vs. Vector

Rastered data is an image that is made of pixels. Much like an inkjet printer, the laser will scan the artwork on a scale from black to white. The laser will vary the number of dots it fires depending on the tone of each pixel.

Common file formats like .jpeg, .gif, and .png are all rastered data.

Vectored data is made of paths that form lines and shapes. They contain mathematical data that allows the laser to trace the path like following coordinates on a map. This allows the laser to cut or score a line as well as etch a filled shape.

Common file formats like .ai, .dxf, and .svg are all vectored data.

Pre-Cut Checklist

  1. Power on the laser
  2. Import your file into Lightburn
  3. Set the job origin
  4. Check the layer mode
  5. Adjust the speed and power settings
  6. Send your file to the Laser

Lightburn Setup

Lightburn accepts a range of file formats.

  • Supported vector files:  .ai .pdf .dxf .svg .lbrn
  • Supported image files: .jpg .jpeg .png .tif .tiff .bmp
  • Cut Lines must be in vector format, using a hairline stroke width in RGB red.
  • Etched Shapes may be either vector or raster format.

File Import

Import your file into Lightburn

Job Origin

Set the job origin

Layer Mode

Check the layer mode:

  • scan fills a vector shape to etch
  • cut traces along a vector line
  • images will only etch

Adjust the speed and power settings

Send File

Send the file to the laser, keeping the filename “LIGHTBRN”

This saves over old job files and helps maintain a manageable memory in the machine’s job queue

Common Cut Settings

MATERIALTHICKNESSPOWER(%)SPEED (mm/s)
Bass Wood1/8″5015
Balsa Wood1/8″5045
Birch Plywood3/16″7010
Acrylic1/4″5512
Leather1/16″7012

Common Etch Settings

MATERIALPOWER (%)SPEED (mm/s)DPI
Acrylic55300391
Anodized Aluminum25325391
Cermark50300362
Granite85150299
Leather45325299
Powder Coated Metal25325299
Romark12325254
Wood14350300

Basic Operation

Operation Checklist

  1. Listen for the exhaust to ensure that it is on
  2. Check that your material is safe to cut
  3. Load material
  4. Focus the lens
  5. Set the origin
  6. Check the footprint of your job
  7. Start your file
  8. Monitor the machine until the job is complete

Focusing the Lens

Select the Z/U button on the control panel

Use the left/right arrows to align the lens carriage to the 40mm focus gauge

Select the escape button to return to the main menu

Setting the Origin

A close-up image of the lens carriage set to the top left corner of a piece of plywood.

Use the arrows on the control panel to jog the lens carriage to the desired location

Optional: use the pulse button to verify the exact location

Select the origin button to set

Select the frame button to check the footprint. (framing can also be managed from Lightburn)

Teardown

Teardown Checklist

  1. Power off the Laser
  2. Reset any modified computer settings to default
  3. Vacuum the interior so material does not build up beneath the honeycomb
  4. Note any maintenance needs or concerns on the tag and at protohaven.org/maintenance
  5. Recycle waste in the single-stream scrap bins

Scrap Breakdown

There are two black scrap bins reserved for laser waste. Maintaining these is a shared, communal responsibility.

When you notice the scrap bins are full, it’s time to take it to the dumpster out back. Feel free to enlist a helping hand. 

If you notice valuable material while emptying the bins, use your judgement to selectively save a few pieces or take it home for your personal use. 

Maintenance Requests

  1. Update the physical Maintenance Tag at the machine
    • Green can be used without issue
    • Yellow can be used with caution
    • Red cannot be used without hazard to either the user or the equipment
  2. Record issues at protohaven.org/maintenance. This notifies our staff and volunteer maintenance crew of any issues

Troubleshooting

Common IssuesPossible CausesPossible Resolutions
Cut does not go through the materialThe speed is too fast or the power is too lowTest a series of incremental adjustments until you find the sweet spot
The lens or mirror is foggedAlert the volunteer/staff on duty by filling out a maintenance report
Slop in the frameThe origin is not set properly in LightburnAdjust the origin point in Lightburn and resend the file to the laser
The artwork is too large for the cutting bedDecrease the overall artwork size
There are burn marks on the back of the materialHot debris is scorching the edges of the cut linesLay a sheet of paper between the material and the cutting bed or line your material with a laser-safe, paper tape

Special Setups

  • Register your material on the cutting bed using magnets or tape when doing a production run.
  • Use the front pass-through door for extra long pieces.
  • Use surface treatments like Cermark  or paint to etch designs onto metal surfaces.

Additional Resources