What Do I Need to Setup My Laser Cutter? Use These Steps to Begin
So your brand new laser cutter and engraver arrived. You might be looking at all the packages and trying to figure out where to begin. Some of these laser systems can be very heavy, so you might need to get a friend, family member, or co-worker to help lift it and get it set up in your space and make sure you follow safe-lifting practices. Once you get it in place you may be thinking to yourself “what do I need to setup my laser cutter?” Below, we will outline a few things you should do so you can begin working with confidence.
What Do I Need to Setup My Laser Cutter? Examine the Laser
Before you begin, take a moment and look at everything that came with your laser cutter and engraver. Make sure that you familiarize yourself with the tools that are included in the package, and make sure you go to download the quick start guide and manual. Everything is digital these days, so you can find all that information online.
Now go ahead and examine the laser cutter and make sure you don’t see any dents or scratches that could be a sign of being mishandled during shipping. The shipping process is the most dangerous thing that your laser cutter and engraver will ever experience, so if you see anything wrong, make sure you contact support immediately. There’s always a chance that the box and packing looked fine, but damage could have been caused by any drops or impacts that may not be immediately apparent through examining the packaging itself.
Once you have verified that everything looks good, connect the power and fill your water system with distilled water (NEVER use anything but distilled water unless otherwise directed by a support technician). Firing a laser without properly setting up your water system can severely damage or destroy the laser tube inside.
What Do I Need to Setup My Laser Cutter? Double Check the Optics
The next thing that we will want to do with our laser cutter and engraving machine is to double check the optics inside (Beam Combiner, Mirrors, and Focus Lens). Your laser should have come with some tools. You’ll need the following for this step.
- Optical Lens Wipes
- Hex Keys (2.0 and 2.5)
- Thermal Paper
Once you have these tools gathered, check the alignment.
For our machines, the laser tube that came with your laser machine was carefully aligned at our facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. Even though it was aligned during the quality check process, there is always a chance that the optics have vibrated out of alignment during shipping, so it’s always good to check before you begin using your laser system.
Once you have verified the alignment, use the optical grade lens wipes to clean your optics. Clean all the dust and any fingerprints from the lens and beam combiner, and make sure that your mirrors are 100% reflective. If it ever seems like your laser is losing power, especially the further that the laser head travels from the tube, go ahead and follow these steps to check the alignment and clean everything. Often this will correct the issue but if it doesn’t we have a dedicated support team available to assist you with troubleshooting.
What Do I Need to Setup My Laser Cutter? Examine your Accessories
If you purchased a rotary attachment with your laser engraving machine, you are probably excited to start engraving on some glasses or tumblers. If you purchased a friction rotary attachment, make sure that the rubber o-rings are clean of any dust and in good shape. If you acquired a chuck rotary, make sure you have all the tools that you need to tighten and adjust the chuck, making sure that everything moves smoothly.
If you also purchased a fume extractor with your laser cutter, open every compartment and check every filter to make sure all the packing material has been removed and all plastic wrapping has been removed from the filters. If you ordered an exhaust fan with your laser cutting machine, then make sure the ducting is properly sealed and that it is routed properly to prevent you from being exposed to any of the fumes or smoke.
For all of your other accessories, such as lens kits and additional components, make sure that everything is present and keep it in a safe place so it doesn’t get lost or damaged. Some of these components are very small, so it's good to keep them somewhere that you know they won’t get lost.
What Do I Need to Setup My Laser Cutter? Gather your Materials
At this point, you have verified that everything is in working order and that you have received everything with your machine. Now it’s time to get all of your laser materials together. There are a few things that you should keep in mind when you work with different materials on your laser cutter and engraver. Make sure you buy enough of each material type so you can test to get the best results. This is especially helpful if you are working with materials that you haven’t worked with before or if you bought from a different source. Hold onto any larger scraps from that material once your project is complete, that way you have some on hand for future testing.
Always check the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). You are typically safe to cut and engrave woods and other organic materials, though there may be some materials that you have never used and you don’t know if they will produce harmful fumes inside the laser (Such as PVC or ABS). You can contact the material manufacturer, or the source that you purchased it from, and request an MSDS to make sure the materials you wish to use will not produce fumes that will be harmful to your health, or fumes that may damage your machine.
If you have any issues, or if you just get stuck in a specific aspect of the setup process, we are here to help. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to contact us at any time. Our technicians here at Full Spectrum Laser are standing by and ready to assist.
Full Spectrum Laser is a leader in easy to use, highly versatile laser cutting and laser engraving machines. Our systems range in size from desktop units and high-volume machines through industrial-grade production equipment. Our machines are running all over the world: from grade schools to National Labs, garage startups and many Fortune 500 companies. Contact us today to learn more.