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Overview

The GSD has 7 Universal Laser Systems machines. These are CO2 lasers ranging in power from 60 watts to 150 watts for etching patterns or cutting virtually any 2-dimensional shape from a wide variety of thin materials such as acrylic, chipboard, wood veneer, and thin plywood. Used within the school for model making, prototyping, and assisting many forms of research, the laser cutters also mimic larger, more powerful industrial laser systems used in the production of building components. For more detailed information about laser cutters see the Machine Details, below.

Users can use the laser cutting machines either by reserving a time slot through the Online Sign-Up System, or, if it isn't busy, just by using one that is idle. If you do not reserve a laser you can be bumped off by someone who has. The Sign-Up System is for the six machines located in L40 and L40E and the two lasers located on the North end of the 3rd and 5th floor studio areas. See the Laser Room Camera tab to see if any machines in the basement are idle.

There are laser TAs who are responsible for cleaning lenses and responding to other maintenance issues, they can also answer other questions if given a reasonable amount of time to repspond by sending an email to: laserta@gsd.harvard.edu  These TAs also hold a limited numer of office hours daily, see the schedule posted on the door to L40C.

 

DETAILS 

Machines in L-40: 60 Watt Versa Universals and 120 watt PLS Universals

Machines in L40E: 150 Watt and 120 Watt Universals

The 120 watt and 150 watt machines are the best options for cutting thicker materials and materials like acrylic.

All machines vent to atmosphere via an automated exhaust system.

The cutting area of all machines is 18" x 32".


HOW TO:

VLS and PLS Universal Laser Cutters

All Universal laser cutters have bed dimension of 18" x 32".

Cutting from AutoCAD

 Preparing your laser cutting file

 Once you have pieces laid out and ready to be sent to the laser cutters, please follow the following steps to ensure a proper file setup.

Option #1

On every computer connected to the colored laser cutters, templates with the right settings are saved on the desktop. Find the right type of template for the program you are using and copy and paste your file into the template file (please make sure to "save as" this new file), be conscious that your geometry lines are 0mm in lineweight, and that all your geometry lines fit within the bounding box already laid out.


Option #2

In the case the template is not available, please follow these steps to set up your cutting file properly

1) Create a bounding box the size of the laser beds (18" x 32"), and lay out pieces within that box.

2) Distinguish cut lines from etch lines by assigning different colors accordingly.

***Use the exact RGB color values listed above (NOT CMYK), otherwise the laser cutter will not read your file!

3) In AutoCAD, all lines should be set to a 0mm lineweight. Select all lines and set to 0mm.

4) You are now ready to send your file to the laser cutter for print

 Sending your file to the laser cutter

Once your file is correctly set up, follow the following steps to send your file to the laser cutter machine

1) Under FILE go to PRINT then PLOT. A window will pop up with printer selection and settings.

2) Once you click on PROPERTIES the following window will appear. Click on CUSTOM PROPERTIES

3) This is where you choose the right settings for the cuts. Please refer to the settings cheat sheet provided with each laser.

In the laser cutter manual control panel, select the desired color row by clicking on it.

Use the sliders for POWER, SPEED and PPI, or enter the exact numbers in their boxes to adjust your settings. Use the drop-down to specify the number of cartidges (Top, Bottom, or Both)

***Settings vary for different materials and the machines

 

4) Click OK through all windows to send the file for print on the laser cutter.

5) You will be prompted to LOGIN to finalize the printing process. Enter your GSD username and password.

Click OK

Click PRINT

Your file should now be sent to the laser cutter and ready for cutting.

6) On the desktop of the computer find the laser cutter software icon and click on it

7) You should then see the page below with your file opened and ready to be cut. DON'T PRESS THE GREEN BUTTON YET.

 

 Setting up the laser cutter machine

The laser cutter machine should be set up properly per the material type and thickness before cutting anything. Please follow these steps to correctly set up the machine.

1) Familiarize yourself with the laser cutter components below

2) Once familiar with the components above, lay out your material on the laser cutter bed.

FOCUS the laser

You need to focus the laser each time you set up the machine, and whenever changing material type and thickness.  

1) SELECT 'Focus View' button within the software and click on a point in the bed near where you'll be cutting, with the material you're cutting in place.

2) Put the focus stick flush against the laser head in front of the label 'Focus Stick Here'

Using the up and down arrow button within the software, OR located on the laser cutter machine itself, raise or lower the bed until the laser head is sitting on the ledge of the focus stick.

3) Once the laser is focused, hit the Home XY button in the cutting software to reset the laser head to its origin, Remove the focus stick and close the laser cutter lid.

The laser is now focused and you can start cutting. PRESS THE GREEN BUTTON.

4) When finished cutting, turn off the machine by hitting the red STOP button on the wall adjacent to the machine.

Cutting from RHINO

 Preparing your laser cutting file
 Once you have pieces laid out and ready to be sent to the laser cutters, please follow the following steps to ensure a proper file setup.
Option #1

On every computer connected to the colored laser cutters, templates with the right settings are saved on the desktop. Find the right type of template for the program you are using and copy and paste your file into the template file (please make sure to "save as" this new file), be conscious that your geometry lines fit within the bounding box already laid out.

Option #2

In the case the template is not available, please follow these steps to set up your cutting file properly

1) Create a bounding box the size of the laser beds (18" x 32"), and lay out pieces within that box.

2) Distinguish cut lines from etch lines by assigning different colors accordingly.

***Use the exact RGB color values listed above (NOT CMYK), otherwise the lase cutter will not read your file!

3) You are now ready to send your file to the laser cutter for print

 

 Sending your file to the laser cutter

Once your file is correctly set up, follow these steps to send your file to the laser cutter machine

1) Under FILE click PRINT. A window will pop up with printer selection and settings.

2) If your file is already scaled then you should print 1:1 otherwise select the appropriate scale for your job

3) Once you select to set your window, make sure to select your bounding box in rhino as your window. Press ENTER.

4) Set your file's line type to Hairline

4) Set up the correct settings by clicking on Properties.

3) The laser cutter software window will open.

This is where you choose the right settings for the cuts. Please refer to the settings cheat sheet provided with each laser.

In the laser cutter manual control panel, select the desired color row by clicking on it.

Use the POWER, SPEED, and PPI sliders to adjust your settings, or enter the exact numbers in their boxes.

***Settings vary for different materials

 

4) Click OK then Print on the print setup page to send the file for print on the laser cutter.

5) You will be prompted to LOGIN to finalize the printing process. Enter your GSD username and password.

Click OK

Click PRINT

Your file should now be sent to the laser cutter and ready for cutting.

6) On the desktop of the computer find the laser cutter software icon and click on it

7) You should then see the page below with your file opened and ready to be cut. DON'T PRESS THE GREEN BUTTON YET.

 

 Setting up the laser cutter machine

The laser cutter machine should be set up properly per the material type and thickness before cutting anything. Please follow these steps to correctly set up the machine.

1) Familiarize yourself with the laser cutter components below, those shown are for the PLS machine. The VLS machines have fewer on-machine options

2) Once familiar with the components above, lay your material on the laser cutter bed.

FOCUS the laser

You need to focus the laser each time you set up the machine, and whenever changing material thickness.  

1) SELECT 'Focus View' button within the software and click on a point in the bed near where you'll be cutting, with the material you're cutting in place.

2) Put the focus stick flush against the laser head in front of the label 'Focus Stick Here'

Using the up and down arrow button within the software, OR located on the laser cutter machine itself, raise or lower the bed until the laser laser head is sitting on the ledge of the focus stick.

3) Once the laser is focused, hit the Home XY button in the cutting software to reset the laser head to its origin, Remove the focus stick and close the laser cutter lid.

The laser is now focused and you can start cutting. PRESS THE GREEN BUTTON.

4) When finished cutting, turn off the machine by hitting the red STOP button on the wall adjacent to the machine.

Cutting from ILLUSTRATOR

 Preparing your laser cutting file
Once you have pieces laid out and ready to be sent to the laser cutters, please follow the following steps to ensure a proper file setup.
Option #1

On every computer connected to the colored laser cutters, templates with the right settings are saved on the desktop. Find the right type of template for the program you are using and copy and paste your file into the template file (please make sure to "save as" this new file), be conscious that your geometry lines fit within the bounding box already laid out.

Option #2

In the case the template is not available, please follow these steps to set up your cutting file properly

1) Create a drawing board size of the laser beds (18" x 32"), and lay out pieces within that drawing board.

2) Distinguish cut lines from etch lines by assigning different colors accordingly.

***Use the exact RGB color values listed above (NOT CMYK), otherwise the lase cutter will not read your file!

3) You are now ready to send your file to the laser cutter for print

 

 Sending your file to the laser cutter

Once your file is correctly set up, follow the following steps to send your file to the laser cutter machine

1) Under FILE click PRINT. A window will pop up with printer selection and settings.

2) When you click on Setup a new window will appear. Click Preferences to continue with the settings.


4) The laser cutter software window will open.

This is where you choose the right settings for the cuts. Please refer to the settings cheat sheet provided with each laser.

In the laser cutter manual control panel, select the desired color row by clicking on it.

Use the POWER, SPEED, and PPI sliders to adjust your settings, or enter the exact numbers in their boxes.

***Settings vary for different materials

 

4) Click OK then Print on the print setup page to send the file for print on the laser cutter.

5) You will be prompted to LOGIN to finalize the printing process. Enter your GSD username and password.

Click OK

Click PRINT

Your file should now be sent to the laser cutter and ready for cutting.

6) On the desktop of the computer find the laser cutter software icon and click on it

7) You should then see the page below with your file opened and ready to be cut. DON'T PRESS THE GREEN BUTTON YET!

 

 Setting up the laser cutter machine

The laser cutter machine should be set up properly per the material type and thickness before cutting anything. Please follow these steps to correctly set up the machine.

1) Familiarize yourself with the laser cutter components below

2) Once familiar with the components above, lay out your material on the laser cutter bed.

FOCUS the laser

You need to focus the laser each time you set up the machine, and whenever changing material thickness.  

1) SELECT 'Focus View' button within the software and click on a point in the bed near where you'll be cutting, with the material you're cutting in place.

2) Put the focus stick flush against the laser head in front of the label 'Focus Stick Here'

Using the up and down arrow button within the software, OR located on the laser cutter machine itself, raise or lower the bed until the laser laser head is sitting on the ledge of the focus stick.

3) Once the laser is focused, hit the Home XY button in the cutting software to reset the laser head to its origin, Remove the focus stick and close the laser cutter lid.

The laser is now focused and you can start cutting. PRESS THE GREEN BUTTON in the software.

4) When finished cutting, turn off the machine by hitting the red STOP button on the wall adjacent to the machine.

 

 

 

 

 

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