Troubleshooting and FAQs

The laser did not cut all the way through

Hopefully you did not move the material or you can reposition it easily

  • In Job Control, right click on your job

  • Select Repeat Cut Line

  • It will start cutting the cut lines automatically

The laser still did not cut through after repeating the cut

You can either slow the laser down or increase the Z offset of the cut

Check that you properly focused the laser / re-focus

Please consult with a TA for help on this

I just turned on the laser and it is constantly beeping
  • Turn the laser off
  • If the head is in the upper right corner of the laser, carefully move it by hand to the center of the bed
  • Turn the laser back on
  • If beeping continues turn the laser off and ask a TA of assistance
What is the kerf of the laser beam

The typical kerf of the laser is about 0.011″ wide. The minimum distance you want between features typically is 0.04″, though 0.1″ is better.

I want a really dark engraving on a piece of wood

We can’t really set a darkenss of engraving on a material. It really depends on the material, because wood has a grain it means some parts will be lighter than others. Also, not every type of wood engraves the same way as some are softer than others, which will change the darkness of the engraving.

There is an angle on the side of my parts

There will always be a slight angle to the sides of the parts you cut. As the laser takes in a wide beam of light and focuses it to a pin point. Which means above and below that focal point the beam will be wider and taper to the focal point. You should expect a 1 – 2 degree angle to be on the sides of your part. This is more noticable with thicker materials (1/4″ and thicker).

What is the thickest material you can cut through

We can cut up to 1/2″ for acrylic, plywood, and MDF. Thickest metal is 0.01″ for aluminum or brass, but parts can’t be larger than about 4″ square or it heat warps.

For 1/2″ plywood it must be a high quality cabinet plywood (7-9 layers). The cheapest plywood from the hardware store will not be able to be cut. With 1/2″ plywood and MDF also plan to spend some time sanding the edges as they will have a decent amount of charring.

What are some good materials to try out laser cutting

Cardboard is very easy to cut and create prototype parts. You can either buy perfectly flat sheets of cardboard online or you can even cut down cardboard boxes, which can be sourced from various places around campus.

Foamboard / Foamcore is also very easy to cut. One of the best sources for this is Dollar Tree where it is $1 a sheet. This can also be found at almost any supermarket and online.

Plywood is a very forgiving material and has the ability to be easily sanded and glued. The best type of plywood is craft-plywood which can be found at Ace Hardware, Hobby Lobby, or on Amazon by a company called Woodpeckers. Otherwise medium to high grade plywood from hardware stores cuts decently but tends to have a warp in the material which may effect how it cuts.

Acrylic is very easy to use and come is a variety of colors. It can be purchased from places such as McMaster Carr, Tap Plastics online, or Meyer Plastics in Lafayette. The plastic sheets at the hardware stores tend to be a blend of plastics and don’t cut as well.