Laser Cutter

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Overview[edit]

Specifications[edit]

Laser Model: Rabbit Laser QX-80-1290 (80 Watt)
Working area: 1200 x 900 mm (47.2 x 35.4 inches)

Parts of the Laser[edit]

80 Watt laser tube - The laser tube lives at the back of the bed behind the white metal wall. This generates a beam of unfocused infrared radiation.
Mirrors - Three mirrors are located on the X/Y carriage of this laser. They reflect the beam from the tube to the focal assembly.
Focal assembly - This is the business end of the laser. This assembly contains the focusing lens, the auto-focus assembly, red-dot laser indicator, and plumbing for the "air-assist".
Auto-focus assembly - This laser is equipped with an auto-focusing attachment that allows it to touch off of a working surface and move itself into an optimal focal range.
X/Y carriage - Horizontal rails allow the focal assembly to move along the X and Y axes (left to right, and front to back).
Z-axis - Four ballscrews allow the bed of the laser to move vertically along the Z axis.
Honeycomb table - The table supports your material while also allowing exhaust to be pulled through the bed of the laser.
Chiller - An chiller constantly circulates cooled water through the outer layers of the laser tube to help prevent the tube from overheating and cracking.
Compressor / Air-assist - A small air compressor maintains constant airflow between the focusing lens and the cutting area. This helps extend the life of our optics and also produces cleaner cuts.

Safety[edit]

Machine Safety[edit]

  • Only use materials on the approved list! If your material is not on the list you must get approved before attempting to cut or engrave it!
  • Do not exceed the recommended power settings more than 10 units. If the laser is not cutting at those settings, it needs maintenance. Please let someone know!
  • Do not set the power setting above 85%. This extends the life of the laser tube considerably.
  • Keep the area around the machine clean and free of unnecessary clutter, combustible materials, explosives, or volatile solvents such as acetone, alcohol, or gasoline.

The smoke generated from cutting materials deposit particles of residue on the lenses and mirrors of the laser. For the laser to work at its full potential proper maintenance is necessary. This is done by trained Tinkermill members so you don’t have to.

The machine is regularly checked and maintained but if you notice a loss in power or performance you can help by alerting a qualified TinkerMill member. If the laser does not seem to be cutting at its full potential please alert a member who has been trained in laser maintenance. If none are available please submit an email to info@tinkermill.com with a description of what you observed. Do not attempt to clean the optics or service the machine without training!


Keep all the lids closed while the machine is in use, including those on the sides of the machine.

Fire Safety[edit]

Laser cutting and engraving systems represent a significant fire hazard.
The materials on the approved list most likely to flare up are paper based products such as cardboard. The most common cause of flare-ups is cutting too slowly.
Keep a properly maintained and inspected fire extinguisher on hand.

Material Selection[edit]

Our laser cutter is capable of cutting and engraving a wide range of materials. To help ensure that the laser stays in a working condition we ask that you only using materials on the approved material list. If you would like to use a material not found on the list (and it isn't on the do-not-cut list) please contact a shop captain and be prepared to provide a sample of your material.

You can help by testing your material according to the “IDENTIFICATION OF POLYMERS” booklet accompanying the laser cutter: http://www.chymist.com/Polymer%20Identification.pdf http://makezine.com/2011/09/22/identifying-unknown-plastics/

Do not cut any material that contains chloride as it is corrosive to both the machine and your body! These include PVC and vinyl.

Approved Materials[edit]

A new settings page is being created here: Laser Cutter Settings


DO NOT CUT/ENGRAVE[edit]

Material Hazard
Polycarbonate Fire hazard
Lexan Fire hazard
PVC Chlorine
Cintra Chlorine
Vinyl Chlorine
ABS Plastic Fire hazard, difficult to clean up
Pleather / Faux Leather Chlorine
Epoxy Coated Fiberglass / Composites Noxious fumes from epoxy
Printed Circuit Boards Noxious fumes
Epoxy Coated Carbon Fiber Noxious fumes
HPDE / Milk Bottle Plastic Fire hazard
Any Material Containing Chlorine Chlorine

Usage[edit]

Scheduling Time on the Laser Cutter[edit]

The laser cutter is a popular tool here at TinkerMill, thus a Resource scheduling and reservation system has been set up with Google Calendar.

Preparing Vector Files for Cutting and Engraving[edit]

The upgrade of the 80W laser cutter has brought on a new laser cutter software called RDWorks. This program can be downloaded for free so makers can prepare their cuts on their own computers. Link to RDWorks http://www.rabbitlaserusa.com/DriverDisk/Ruida/RDWorksV8Setup8.01.26.exe

Preparing Raster Images for Engraving[edit]

The RDWorks software has advanced features for converting images to grayscale or black/white. Click the BMP icon in the top toolbar for those options.

Operating the Laser[edit]

The laser cutter controller and software was upgraded in early 2018. A re-certification is required for any members trained prior to 2018.


  1. Ensure that you have the correct file, dimensions, and cut/engrave settings for your job in RDWorks
  2. Turn the laser on using the key on the main control panel. Check to ensure that the Chiller, Air Assist Pump, and Ventilation Fan have all turned on.
  3. Wait for the laser to complete it's initialization process and has stopped moving prior to loading any materials into the bed.
  4. In RDWorks use the "Download" button in the lower right corner of the screen to send your file to the cutter. Please leave "DEFAULT" as the name of the file you send to the laser, and overwrite any existing "DEFAULT" file.
  5. Scan your badge using the TinkerAccess kiosk above the main control panel. The laser tube cannot fire if a certified user is not signed in. If additional time is required users may re-scan at any point to extend the session.
  6. Place your material onto the laser cutter bed.
  7. The directional keys on the key pad are used to position the laser cutter's focal head. If the bed height needs to be adjusted this can be done by pressing the "Z/U" button on the keypad and with "Z MOVE" highlighted pressing the Right arrow to move the bed down, or the Left arrow to move the bed up.
  8. Once the focal head is correctly positioned relative to your material, please the "ORGIN" button on the keypad to lock in it's current location as the origin point for your job.
  9. At this point "FRAME" can be used to physically outline the outer-bounds of the work area for your job. The laser head will travel in a rectangular pattern that represents the boundaries of your file.
  10. Now move the laser head so that the auto-focus probe is positioned directly above your material. Press the "Z/U" button and navigate to "AUTOFOCUS" and press "ENTER". It is crucial that the probe contact your material or the laser head may impact the bed and compress the focal tube. If you are going to miss your material with the auto-focus probe use the "ESC" key to stop the auto-focus process, or use the emergency stop to prevent the crash.
  11. You are now ready to cut/engrave! Press the “START” key to start the laser from your previously declared origin point.
  12. Monitor your job closely. If you want to inspect the quality of your cuts and engraves mid run you may do so by pressing the "Stare-Pause" button. If you open the lid without pausing the run it will interrupt the beam but continue it's motion.
  13. Listen for a loud beep to indicate that your job is done.
  14. Remove your material as well as any left over pieces. Don’t worry about scrap that falls through the the honeycomb, that gets cleaned out during maintenance. Do, however, remove any scrap that sits on or above the honeycomb that could obstruct material placed into the machine later. The vacuum cleaner next to the laser cutter works great for sucking up loose bits!
  15. Donate money for the laser cutter based on the suggested rate and the elapsed time it took to run, according to the time displayed on the laser cutter.

Cleaning and Maintenance[edit]

Please refer to http://www.rabbitlaserusa.com/Manuals/LaserMaintenanceSchedule.pdf for maintenance instructions.

Due to the delicate nature of the laser cutter, maintenance is to only be performed by trained members. Please do not attempt to clean or repair the machine without this one-on-one training and specific authorization. If you believe that the laser needs cleaning or other maintenance please send a message to info@tinkermill.org.

Lens Damage Examples[edit]

Lens Damage Examples

Focal Length Sensor Plunger[edit]

It is necessary to periodically clean the tip of the focal length sensor plunger. Because this plunger is used to set the focal distance of the laser, a build up of debris will cause this distance to be off enough to affect the quality of cuts and etchings. Focal length sensor - before after.png

Resources[edit]

Design Resources[edit]

Material Resources[edit]

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