The Laser Cutter
The PLS6.75 Laser Cutter
The PLS6.75 laser cutter is a machine that can cut and engrave images onto a variety of materials, including wood, aluminum, acrylic, glass, and others. You can use it to cut flat objects like boards, or cylindrical objects like drinking glasses using the rotary attachment.
The laser cutter is a powerful and complicated tool. If you use the cutter incorrectly, you will put yourself and those around you in danger of injury and illness. You also risk causing damage to the machine. Read the instructions carefully and ask for help if you need it.
This machine is for beginners to practice laser cutting. Everyone must use the materials provided in the makerspace. We provide:
If you would like to cut other materials, we will refer to you another space on campus. Some materials catch fire and/or emit deadly toxic gases when burned.
Step 1: Prepare your image for cutting
- Open Corel Draw.
- File > New.
- Document width 36 inches, height 18 inches.
- The primary color mode: RGB
- Resolution: 300dpi.
- Click OK.
- Rulers. Check the rulers on the top and the left side. The top left corner should say 0 for both rulers. If not, right click on the ruler. Ruler Settings > Origin > adjust Horizontal or Vertical
- Palettes. Window > Color palettes > Palettes. Right sidebar, click arrow to the left of "Process" to expand > Check Universal Laser Systems
- Color management. Tools menu > Color Management > Default > Preset > set to "Simulate Color Management Off"
- Set up outline pen. On left side toolbar: click the plus (+) sign. Scroll down to "outline tools," check it. Fountain Pen tool is now on the bar. Click Fountain Pen > click "Outline Pen." Make sure "Graphic" is the only box checked. Click color dropdown. Define colors: True Red with hairline width (255, 0, 0). OK. True Blue with hairline width (0, 0, 255). OK.
- From here, you can import an image or draw one.
- The laser software uses colors and line width to determine what the laser will do. Follow these guidelines to avoid errors.
- Raster images are made with a back and forth printer-like motion. Any color besides true red or blue is raster. For best results, upload a grayscale image. The blackest parts of the image are cut the deepest.
- Vector cut is when the laser follows a line and cuts straight through the material. True red lines (R: 255, G: 0, B: 0), hairline width.
- Engrave carves along a line and does not cut all the way through. True blue lines (R: 0, G: 0, B: 255), hairline width.
- All lines must have a 'hairline' width, or they'll be interpreted as raster.
Adobe Illustrator Instructions
- Open Illustrator.
- File > New.
- Profile: Basic RGB
- Units: Inches
- Width: 32 in
- Height: 18 in
- Cut lines
- RGB RED stroke
- Fill: None
- Stroke size: 0.001
- Vector engraving
- RGB BLUE stroke
- Fill: None
- Stroke size: 0.001
- Raster engraving
- Stroke: None
- Fill: Black and white (anything gray scale). More black = deeper engrave
- Stroke size N/A
- When you're finished, select Print. Choose "PLS6.75" as the printer.
- Click the gear icon next to the printer dropdown to open the print preferences control panel.
- Select the type of material you are engraving from the menu.
- Cast acrylic is under plastics.
- For balsa, choose medium-hard wood.
- For cardboard, choose construction paper.
- For chipboard, choose construction paper.
- Use the digital calipers to measure the thickness of your material. Enter that number into the Material Thickness field.
- Click OK to close the dialog.
- Click Apply, then click Print.
- If the UCP panel doesn't open automatically, go to the desktop and double click the UCP icon. (You may need to tab over to it.)
Step 2: Safety Check
- Remove any leftover material in the machine before starting.
- Identify the fire extinguisher location and the ventilation switch.
- Identify the red PAUSE button on the laser cutter.
- If you’re going to be cutting all the way through things, use the thick honeycomb table. Otherwise, don’t worry about it.
- Turn the laser on. The switch is on the bottom right side of the machine.
Step 3: Prepare your material
Calibrate the laser cutter to your material.
- Place your material in the machine.
- Use the keypad on the laser cutter to move the laser over your material. Select XY and hold the left/right arrow keys to move it.
- Calibrate the machine by placing the calibration tool, black side down, on top of the material. Press the flat part against the laser carriage.
- There is a little groove. You want the carriage to fit neatly into the groove. Use the keypad on the control panel to move the carriage downwards until it fits.
Confirm that your material is large enough for your design.
Go back to the computer and look at the University Control Panel window.
The location of the image should match where the material is located in the machine. If necessary, move the image to where you want to have it cut and engraved.
Locate the Focus View button. It's a small red button under "Home XYZ" that looks like a diamond. (It's a little laser icon.) Click Focus View and a blue cross will appear on the screen under your cursor.
Click one the corners of the design. The laser will move to that location. Look into the laser machine and make sure that the light is pointing at the item to be cut, not on the bed. Repeat this step for each of the corners to make sure that your piece is large enough for the cuts you’re trying to make. (Example below. The location of the point of red light in the picture below corresponds to the location of the blue crossed circle in the screenshot.)
Step 4: Cut
Turn on the vent and start the cut
- Close the top door of the laser.
- Turn on the exhaust. Wait for it to kick in. The exhaust removes toxic fumes. If you want to protect your ears from the extremely loud exhaust, use the earplugs provided.
- In UCP, press the green play button.
After the machine finishes cutting
- Run the exhaust for 30 seconds before opening the lid.
- Open the top door. If you were cutting all the way through, poke one of the cuts and slightly lift the piece without moving it side to side. If it didn't cut all the way through properly, we can keep it in the same place and try the cut again.
- Congrats! You did it!