QD 1390 Laser Cutter

QD-1390 Laser Cutter

Approved Materials

Material Minimum Thickness Maximum Thickness
Acrylic 1/16 in 1/4 in
Bamboo 1/32 in 1/4 in
Cardboard 1/32 in 1/4 in
Masking Tape 1 layer 2 layers
Paper (Printer) 1 sheet (held down) 10 sheets (held down)
Poster Board normal normal
Wood (General) 1/8 in 1/4 in
Wood (Ply) 1/8 in 1/8 in

Ask a manager if you would like to cut any materials not listed above.

MANAGERS: Absolutely no PVC nor Vinyl is to be used in the Laser Cutter under any circumstances whatsoever. Also we don’t allow the use of that compacted brownish material the Architecture students use under any circumstances either.

General Notes:


image alt text Make sure the fire extinguisher is nearby.

Prepping the Laser

Preparing your Job

  1. Login to the computer next to the laser cutter.
  2. Open RDWorks which is the software used to control the laser cutter.
  3. Import the file you wish to work with.
    1. Click File > Import
      1. You can import most vector files and images, but a safe bet is to use DXF vector files. image alt text
  4. Check your job.
    1. There are several issues that can happen upon importing a vector image.:
      1. If the vectors are messed up, in which case you will have to manually edit your job by clicking “Edit Nodes”, and adding nodes to the parts you want to remove, or move. It takes practice.
      2. Your vector image is scaled way too small. Select your vector shapes, and check the width and length in the upper left corner (not the x and y values, that is the position of your piece). The program has a tendency to take inch dimensions and just turn them into millimeters (not convert, just changes it, ex. 6 inches becomes 6 mm). To fix this, you should export your vector file in millimeters. Alternatively, you can fix this by highlighting all of your shapes, and converting your dimensions in inches into millimeters (multiply each dimension by 25.4) and entering that in for the height and width.

Cut Power and Speed or Rastering

Image files (.jpg, .png, etc.) will always raster, meaning it will not cut. It will just etch the image onto the material. If you want to cut, you need to add vector shapes which can be done directly in RDWorks using the shape and line tools.

Different materials and thicknesses will require different laser powers or speeds to cut through the material.

Material Cut Settings

Below you can find some examples of cuts made in various materials.

1/16” Clear Acrylic

image alt text

1/16” Bamboo

image alt text

Changing Cut Setting in RDWorks

In the upper right hand corner of RDWorks you should see a small window that will probably have a single black block followed by cut and speed settings. It is possible to use different cuts and speeds for different parts of your job by using different “colors” to identify different layers on your piece.

Using different cut settings in your job (i.e. cutting or etching, etc.): «Add Images»

  1. Click on the vector you wish to edit the cut settings for. image alt text
  2. Click on one of the colors at the bottom of the software to change it. The shape should change to that color and a new color and item should appear in your layer window in the upper right hand window.
    • Note: The color only identifies the layer of the vector. image alt text
  3. Double click on the layer you wish to edit in the upper right-hand window. image alt text
  4. In the dialog box that pops up, edit the speed of laser to your desired settings.
  5. Edit the minimum and maximum power of the laser to your desired settings.
    • Usually you will just make the minimum and the maximum the same.
    • Sometimes it gives you the option to change two power settings. Just uncheck one of them.
  6. You can change the cut type from cut (will just use the laser to etch the lines on your vector) to scan (will use the laser to ‘fill’ in your vector shape–usually used to etch opaque shapes)
    • Note: Scanning large images can take a very long time as opposed to cutting. If you can cut instead of scan, please do so. Also make sure you are using much lower power settings and higher speed settings for scanning.

Any vector you change to this color will have those cut settings.

Alternatively, if you just want to use the same cut settings throughout your job, just change the single black layer that is there by default and directly edit the settings there.

Aligning and Testing

  1. When you think your job is ready in RDWorks, open the hood (make sure the IR laser switch is still OFF) and place your material under the laser head.
    1. The green square in RDWorks is laser head start position. It will usually be positioned to the upper left of your piece. So you should place your material down so the laser head is directly above the upper left of your material.
  2. Adjust the lens height so the bottom edge of the purple tape is 2 in. from the surface of the material to cut.
    1. Note: Be careful to not over-tighten the focusing knob!
  3. Close the hood, and click “Start” in the laser control on RDWorks.
    1. Since the IR laser shouldn’t be on yet, it will not burn your piece. This is just to make sure that the laser will stay on your piece and not cut off of it (which may damage the laser bed). image alt text
  4. Once you are sure that the laser will stay on your piece, proceed to the next step.

Final Prep

  1. Before turning on the beam for cutting, turn on the air filter to the left of the laser. The switch is behind it. image alt text
  2. Then turn on the green air compressor to the right of the machine by pushing the red switch into the down position.
    1. Air should be flowing out of the laser head continuously at this point. If it is not, check that the handle on the valve is zip-tied into the on position.
    2. The air pressure in the line should be around 10 psi. Adjust the pressure using the knob to the right of the switch and read the pressure off of the right gauge. image alt text
  3. Press the “Laser” switch on the side of the cutter into the on position, turning on the IR laser. image alt text
  4. Press start on RDWorks to start the cutting job. image alt text

While the laser is Running

Finishing Up

  1. Once your job is finished, turn the “Laser” switch on the side of the cutter off.
  2. Open the hood and check that your job cut properly.
    1. If it didn’t you may have to change your cut settings accordingly.
  3. Clear the bed of any little pieces of material (these can cause fires if left there).
  4. If you are completely done, follow the shut-off procedure in the following sequence:
    1. Turn off the air compressor.
    2. Turn off the air filter.
    3. Turn off the laser cutter by turning the key into the off position.
    4. Wait about 10-15 minutes before turning off the water chiller.
  5. Close RDWorks. (saving your job is optional, but recommended)