Session 6: K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver; Let’s Put It To The Test

K40 Xtreeem Laser Cutter Upgrade Series

Welcome to Session 6 of the all new K40 Xtreeem Laser Cutter Upgrade Series with Russ Sadler. In this Session, Russ puts the K40 Xtreeem Laser engraver to the ultimate test with photo engraving. Russ starts out Photo engraving, or Photo Replication as he prefers to call it, onto slate. One of the more difficult materials to laser engrave. He then moves onto cardboard and photo replicates his benchmark Fox image as used on his larger machines. Finally he checks the cutting performance of the 40 watt laser tube.

Release Date: 21st June 2022

Over the last 6 years, Russ has built up a formidable YouTube following for his RDWorks Learning Lab series which currently has over 200 videos.

The original RDWorks Learning Lab series on his “Sarbar Multimedia” YouTube Channel, follows Russ as he tries to make sense of his new Chinese laser machine. He then sorts out the truths, half truths and outright misleading information that is available on the web.

Six years later with over 4.5 million YouTube Views under his belt. Russ has become the go to resource for everything related to the Chinese CO2 laser machine user or wannabe user.

K40 Laser Engraver - Engraving the Fox Image
K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Engraving the Fox Image

In this new series, Russ has condensed his knowledge and experience of the last 6 years to provide valuable information and insights into developing practical K40 Laser Cutter Upgrades. Resulting in his total remodelling of the K40 Xtreeem Laser cutter machine. Making it into a powerful, compact laser cutting and engraving solution for those on a budget.

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Session 6: K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test

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Session 6: K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test

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Session 6 – K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test

Video Resource Files for K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test

The resource files for this K40 Xtreeem Laser Cutter Upgrade project can be found at the K40 Xtreeem Project Files Resource Page.

Concise RDWorks Learning Lab Session 07 – Laser Beam Safety

What Is The Pre-ionisation Zone Of A Laser Tube?

Concise RDWorks Learning Lab Session 36 – How to laser Cut Thin Materials. Explains the laser power characterisation of a laser tube and explains the theory and importance of the pre-ionisation zone.

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Then Just click on the link below, which will open up an information request form.

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Transcript for K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test

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The K40 Xtreeem Laser Cutter Upgrade series with Russ Sadler.

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Session six. Let’s put it to the test. Well, here we are today, it might be the last session in this little venture.

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I mean, the last session that you’re going to see. I mean, I should be using this machine for quite some time. Doing experiments and tests with it,

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but today we’re just going to give it a quick spin, so to speak.

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To make sure that the brakes work and the accelerator doesn’t get stuck, and all those sorts of things.

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So we’re going to do a little bit of cutting a little bit of engraving. You can hear

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it’s busy working away in the background. It’s doing one of the most difficult things, which is photo engraving.

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I’m even going the hardest possible route to start with by photo engraving on

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slate. Engraving is normally designed to work like black ink on white paper.

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But when you try and put white ink on black paper, it’s a slightly different scenario.

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And that’s effectively what we’re doing with slate. Slate is what I call a binary material.

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It only produces one color. You’ve got slate, which is one color.

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And what it engraves as, which is a pale grey and that’s the other color.

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So you’ve only got these two colors, nothing else in between.

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But that’s different when you’re doing an organic material, things like wood because there are lots of different shades of brown that

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you can create on the surface of wood. Now here’s the image I’m actually engraving.

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And it might look rather strange, but that’s because it’s a negative image.

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Remember, we can only produce white lines on a black background.

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This is a white background with black lines on it.

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And what we’ve had to do is create a negative, because anything that’s black will engrave and anything that’s white won’t engrave.

Transcript for K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test (Cont…)

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So we’re going to produce white lines wherever there’s black. Sound a bit wired doesn’t it?

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But hey, let’s just have a look to see what the result will be. As I said,

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it’s quite a difficult process to engrave on slate.

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But if you can do it successfully, it can look very good.

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I taught my stepdaughter to do this process and actually she’s mastered it about 10 times better than I ever could.

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She’s a horsey person. She knows nothing about photo engraving, and she does it better than I can. Photo

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engraving is not something that’s just a very simple job. There are all sorts of software out there that allow you to convert your image into laserable images.

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Most of them produce cartoon like images. They’re not proper photo replications.

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Now, there are several things about photo replication, very basic and simple things.

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When you produce images on the screen, they are pixels. And when you burn dots onto the surface of material, they must represent every single pixel.

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The pixels on the screen don’t overlap, so your dots mustn’t overlap.

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Therefore, it’s critical that you get your dots to match the size of the pixels that are on the screen.

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Now there’s a whole series of videos that I’ve done that explains all this, and I’m not going to go into it today in any great detail.

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That’s the preparation of the pictures themselves. You need to understand what digital graphics are.

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And that’s a subject all on its own, which is far too big for this session.

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But what I’m going to do is explain once you’ve got your picture prepared and I’ve managed to

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work to images of 254 PPI. Because I know that I can produce dots that are roughly 0.1mm diameter,

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which is 254 dots per inch to match the 254 pixels per inch.

Transcript for K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test (Cont…)

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To do that means you’ve got to produce a very short focal length lens.

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And in this machine, I’ve got a very special lens combination

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in the end, here. It’s called a compound lens, which you can buy from CloudRay.

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I designed it. They manufacture and sell the pieces now. It’s a self-contained unit.

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That’s it. And inside there we’ve got two lenses.

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We’ve got a two and a half inch meniscus lens and a one and a half inch plano convex lens.

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Now the mix that I’ve got in there has been very carefully researched to produce the smallest and cleanest possible dots.

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There are other combinations that you could use, but they don’t seem to work as well.

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So first of all, we’ve got our compound engraving lens in there,

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which gives us a very small dot. If we set it up right and I’m going to show you how to set it up now.

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But because it’s a very short focus length lens, it means it’s got a very, very small working distance.

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When we come to put our work down here to engrave it, it has to be flat and by flat,

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I mean to say it has to be the same distance from the lens all over the work surface.

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Now that’s difficult to achieve. So what I’ve done on this machine is very simply, I’ve got a sheet of two millimeter thick,

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mild steel, which is nice and straight and flat and heavy, and it just sits inside the pillars there.

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And I’ve got this on because it’s difficult to get out, if I don’t have a little handle on it.

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This is just a temporary handle, that I’ve put on it at the moment. And then in addition to that, you’ll notice I’ve got some screws in the corners,

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but these screws and there are three of them, just like a milking stool with three legs on it.

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You can get absolutely level with three supports, so there’s one support down at the front underneath here.

Transcript for K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test (Cont…)

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And then we’ve got these two here,

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and I’ll just show you how we go about setting the machine up. So we can now drop our slate into the machine onto that surface.

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And of course, the next thing is, is this flat? Well, the answer is no, it’s not flat.

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Look it rocks. We can’t have that.

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So before we start, we have to make sure that we pack the slate up in some way, so that it doesn’t rock and its stable.

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Now that we’ve got the slate stable, we can make it flat and we make it flat by going to the centre at the front here. Where

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we’ve got our adjusting screw and here I’ve got a gauge which runs between 10 mm and 12 mm.

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And it’s sloped so that every increment along here is 0.1 of a millimetre.

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So if I set the gap there and I can feel it going in and it just stops at about 11

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millimetres and then I can go over to the back corner and it’s not going in deep enough.

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So I’ve got to let the table down so I can undo this screw.

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And that’s just about the right dimension. 11 millimeters. And look, it only just goes in a little bit.

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So I’ve got to let this one off as well. And there we are 11mm.

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The whole of that plane is set to 11 mm. And it needs to be within about 0.1 or 0.2 of a millimetre of flat to get nice uniform

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photo engraving. Because the dots are very, very sensitive. So that’s stage on. Now, stage two.

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You’ve got to determine whether or not you can actually produce 0.1mm dots.

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And I’ve developed a very simple program to do that.

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It’s very, very small. Maybe two seconds to run this program. This is an image that’s been created at 254 PPI, pixels per inch.

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That pixel there is point one. The gap is point one.

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The pixels point one, etc. all along that bottom line. That’s the crucial line that you need to look at to determine whether or not you can do a

Transcript for K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test (Cont…)

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254 PPI image. If you can’t see something that looks pretty close to that pattern, then you’re not going to be able to produce photo quality images.

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So we’ve got to get the focus just right. And so now we need to run this program.

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Now, generally, you don’t need very high power. There is a mode of operation for this tube called pre ionization.

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And most photo engraving I’ve ever done has been within that operating zone. Now,

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if you don’t know what pre ionization is, I will put a reference in the description below which will send you to a video that I did,

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which shows you how to identify your pre ionization zone.

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But you’ll have to go and look at your tube to identify what percent power to make sure you stay within your pre ionization zone.

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On this machine, it looks as though I’m up at about 20 percent, I’m working at 12 percent, which is, which is an incredibly stupid

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amount of power. It’s very, very low. I’m going to try and run this at 400mm a second.

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Now we come to another problem. There are all sorts of issues associated with toothed belts and CNC machines.

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We’ll just delete this and then we’ll just draw a little teeny weeny pattern on here and that rectangle, puts

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handles around it and then we come up here to the top left hand corner and we can specify the size.

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Make sure the padlock is unlocked. We can make it wide 15 and high 10.

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OK, just use the middle of these magnifying glasses to get back to a full cantered screen like that.

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OK, and then you can, you scroll your mouse to scroll in on it?

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Double click on that black layer will bring up the parameters that we’re going to use for this, so I will set this to 400 speed and power.

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Let’s let’s put it at something like about 20 per cent.

Transcript for K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test (Cont…)

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Now you’ll notice here I’ve got something called an interval and I’ve set the interval to a very wide interval point five.

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It’s not something you’d normally set that big, but you’ll see why I’ve set it that big,

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When we do this very simple test. We come up here to config / system settings and when we go to options.

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You’ll find we get this thing here called scanning reverse compensation.

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Now I’ve already got a value in there 400, so if I double click on that,

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you’ll see that it’s already set to one point three millimetres. On my other machines,

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I normally finish up with things like, with value, something in the region of about point one to point zero five, not one.

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So this is a very small belt and a very, let’s call it a floppy system, but you can account for that because it is repeatable.

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If I set 401 for my speed, this compensation will not take place.

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It has to be exactly those numbers that you specify in the table.

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Now I’m going to remove the scanning reverse offset.

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It’s not going to have any effect because I’ve disabled it. I’m now going to run the test and we’ll see what the result is. OK?

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You can see what’s happened there to the scan lines.

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The top line is scanned to the left over, run by a huge amount and then the second line has started off and it has over run by a huge amount.

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The scan lines going in opposite directions are not lined up.

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If you’re trying to produce dots in a picture. The dots on one line must be relative to the dots on the next line.

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So this is going to cause absolute havoc if you try and do photo engraving with the machine set like this.

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The first thing you must do is go back and change the values with your scanning reverse offset and we will put this scanning reverse

Transcript for K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test (Cont…)

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offset in. All the lines are now perfectly lined up, which means our dots in the photograph are all going to be relative to each other.

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You can dream of running at a thousand dpi if you want, but you’re never going to succeed.

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This is about as good as you can get. 254 PPI, it’s just physically impossible to get dots that are much smaller than 0.1.

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It is possible, but you have to have very special circumstances to do that. Typically,

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point one is as good as you’re going to get on any particular material. Let’s just see what we get with 400 millimetres a second.

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We’re only going to be using 12 percent power, so we must set this dimension here to the same size that our pixels are, point one.

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Yeah, around about eleven point one or eleven point two distance. We’ll run our test, and blink, and you’ll miss it.

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There we go.

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You can just about see that. You’re going to need a little magnifier. Typically 8 maybe 10 times or more, the dashes along the top are very nice and thin.

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And the bottom line has got some nice separations on them.

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They’re not all perfect, but I would say that’s about as good as I can get.

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I knew that 11 and a half millimetres was about the right focal distance for that particular lens.

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Now it will change very slightly with different materials and with different powers.

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This was done at 200 millimetres a second. So what we’re now going to do is, we’re going to try and run the same pattern at 400mm a second,

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using roughly the same power as I used here and see what the differences is. You would think that running twice as fast, they would be half as much power.

Transcript for K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test (Cont…)

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And the picture would be fainter. I’m afraid that’s not the way the laser works.

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There’s only one color that this can go. This is not like wood. With

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wood, you put more power in? You do more burning. With slate, well, there’s a subtle difference here. When you burn slate.

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You can either produce a chip like a stone chip or you can produce a little volcano.

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You can put a little melt pool, which turns into grey glass.

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And Grey Glass is not going to rub off. It’s going to be permanent.

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This is all about understanding materials and the way in which the light, the amount of light affects the materials, as well as just the picture.

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This is a very complex subject. We’re going to be working in this area here.

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So there we go, 11 millimetres. And there are we’ve got our 11 mm.

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We’ve got to adjust this one up front, so we’ve got a nice flat 11 mm surface now to work with.

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We’re going to set the focus to 11 and a half. You will remember back to the previous session when we were talking about over travel

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and how much time you waste at the end of each stroke because of over travel.

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Look at this picture, if I go this way, I’m going to have, let’s just say a thousand scans.

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If I turn the picture around. So that picture is going to take less time to scan when I do it this way round.

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Something else that I’d like you to just have a quick look at. This little green dot here,

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is where that’s going to start. That’s where the head starts. And we set that again,

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Config / system settings. And over here, look, we’ve set the start point over to the middle of the right hand side.

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Maybe I ought to put it in this instance to the top left corner, which is where I’m going to start.

Transcript for K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test (Cont…)

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OK. There’s my homing position, and there’s my start position. Something else that’s strange about these controllers.

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Sometimes they cannot walk and talk at the same time. When you run a program from the PC and I press start. It’s loading the program

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and it’s also trying to run the program at the same time. And this is a personal preference, which I just from experience have done. When I press start.

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As soon as the head moves, I go over to my keyboard and I press pause. Start,

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and I wait for this to finish, and then I allow it to carry on.

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Now you can try and engrave at whatever speed you like, but the thing that controls all of this is dot size.

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If you can’t get the dots at 400mm a second with a certain amount of power.

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You’ve got to play with the power, you’ve got to play with the speed until you get the dots.

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I can’t give you any parameters because there are none. On my other machines.

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Typically, I’ll do this at maybe 200mm a second, which is where I did that first one.

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So we’re going to compare 400mm a second on this machine. And of course look at the over travel. There’s virtually no over travel.

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We’re not wasting any time at all doing this image.

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When you look at the pattern that we produced, the little test pattern, you see the dots are hardly visible at all.

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But of course. When you start joining them all together like this, you get a completely different picture.

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What happens when you put all those dots together? We’ve got much better detail in this image than we have in this image.

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This one is actually very slightly what I call over burnt, but the dots are too big.

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This is too white. Look, you can see the fur in here. You can see it’s, it’s just a much more pleasing image.

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There’s our first foray into photo engraving on Slate.

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Now, the other thing that I didn’t tell you about was this. Now everybody knows that Slate is grey.

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When you get a light grey image on a dark grey background, it looks okay if you get some clear acrylic varnish. Look at the color change.

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And now you can lock that color in with a heat gun.

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You don’t have to wait for it to dry. You can force it dry in about two minutes.

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And there we go, it’s completely dry. That way you get a much better contrast.

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OK, so now we’re going to do some engraving.

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Photo replication, if you like, on card. Now this is basically the same sort of stuff that beer mats are made from.

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It soaks up spillages, but basically it’s one millimetre thick, just plain wood pulp.

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There’s no kaolin or anything in it, it’s just, it’s almost like grainless wood.

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It might not be absolutely flat. So what

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we should probably have to do with this, and again, this is one of the great advantages of having a steel plate. We just pop magnets on the corner.

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Now I’m going to try a slightly more challenging picture this time. This is a pretty demanding test picture.

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We need to make sure that we do it in the most efficient way possible.

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So we turn this through 90 degrees and we’ll start the picture over on this middle so it’s easier to actually align the picture to the paper.

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Now again, before we start this picture, we really need to carry out a little test program and we need to make sure that things are flat.

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Lets use 11 and a half millimetre focus to start with.

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So I’ve now downloaded my 254 PPI test program in the machine. So that I don’t have to keep going back to the PC.

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So we’ll set the speed to 400, power to 16, I think.

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Now the dots look very faint, very small, well you can hardly see those. We’ll leave that cooking.

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And we’ll have a quick chat about one or two other things. Laser safety is always something that’s on my mind.

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But I’m rather cavalier about it because I do understand how; A) dangerous the laser can be just like a bullet.

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If you happen to be standing in the way, it’s dangerous if you’re not in the way.

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It’s not dangerous. I’ve got a hole through here that allows air in.

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Now apart from anything else? The only way that light is going to, laser

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light is going to escape out of there. Is if it gets somehow reflected off of metal inside like a mirror and comes out at me.

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The chance of that happening are probably less than me winning the lottery, and I don’t even do the lottery.

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Please go and look at another video on laser safety that I will reference in the text below.

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It’s not a subject I want to talk about in here, but I did consider the possibility when I designed this facia as well.

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It doesn’t just sit against the surface, it sits forward so that if anything is reflected, it gets absorbed on this material.

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Now, the more important thing that’s interesting to people, probably will be, how I went about making this sign here?

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First of all, I started off with some LED self-adhesive strip.

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This is 10 millimeters wide. Then I used a piece of 10 millimeter thick acrylic.

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I painted the back black and then I reverse engraved this way round to cut through the paint.

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I’ve put the LEDs along the bottom here, which are housed behind this strip here.

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OK, then that’s how we get our upwards illumination from the 12V supply that I’ve put in there to feed the LED strip.

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You can’t use this machine to cut these pieces, because they’re bigger than the size of the machines.

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So you’ll either have to have another machine or two like I have,

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or you’ll have to go to a local maker space or you’ll have to get a friend to make them for you.

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That wasn’t my plan originally, but hey, none of this was really planned, except I knew that it was going to be a not standard K40.

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OK, now you can see the air assist tube

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there doing a great job swinging backwards and forwards. You’ll also notice that I’ve got some spiral wrap around it.

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Well, it’s not proper spiral spiral wrap. It’s Spiral wrap that I’ve produced by cutting out a piece of six millimetre urethane tube, polyurethane tube.

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It’s stiffer than normal spiral wrap, but it supports the tube and stops it from kinking just at the point where it came out of the first P-clip.

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Now, I hope you remember my initial goal when I set out on this project in session one,

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I said that I really wanted to make this machine like a micro version of my other machines. Well,

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doing this tells, me that I’ve succeeded. This hasn’t gone through a laser preparation piece of software.

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This is the photo. The only thing that we’ve done with this photo,

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Is turned it into a dithered image. Black dots on a white background and what we’re doing instead of making black dots,

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we’re doing brown dots on a creamy background.

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So we’re getting a sepia type of image.

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If we want a darker image, then one of the things that we can do, is we can prepare the surface of the material with something called Borax.

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If you make a supersaturated solution of Borax, by dissolving Borax in water, hot water and then let it cool down. You’ll find that

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there’s a sediment in the bottom. Which is the excess borax that you cannot hold in suspension.

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Use that solution, paint it liberally on this surface and let it dry.

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In fact, generally, if you’re doing card what you do, you paint it on both surfaces so the card doesn’t distort on one side only.

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You’ll find that you get a very good quality dark image, and I may well prepare one of those and show you at the end of this session.

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So there’s the final result. It’s a pretty reasonable copy of what’s on the screen.

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As I said, it’s a sepia image rather than a black and white image.

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We’re now going to move on to cutting and for cutting.

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I use what’s in there, which is a two and a half inch gallium arsenide lens.

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Now you might think two and a half inch is a very long focus lens for cutting thin, 3mm Baltic birch plywood.

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Yes, it is. You could cut Baltic birch plywood a little bit quicker, maybe 10 percent quicker with a one and a half inch lens.

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But this is my general. Don’t touch it.

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Go to Lens. Which once you’ve got a lens that works.

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All you’ve got to remember is the settings for this lens. In other words.

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I know that, for example, on my other machines, I’ve got a certain speed for different types of materials.

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I only have to remember those because I’ve got a fixed lens.

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Now the other thing about this, is it’s a cutting nozzle that I’ve put on here.

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It’s got a very small hole in the end, which concentrates the air assist down into the kerf that I’m cutting. Because

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getting air through the kerf is most important for efficient cutting.

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I know that the way that this lens is set up, I’m only going to have about a two millimetre gap set beyond the end of this nozzle for cutting.

Transcript for K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test (Cont…)

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Now that’s a very, very small gap. But it’s a very small gap for a good reason. Because that means that the air that’s

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coming out of this hole doesn’t get a chance to expand and go everywhere else.

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It tries to get right into the cut.

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That’s still a two and a half millimetre diameter hole, and the cut is only 0.1 or 0.2 wide, so it’s still fairly inefficient.

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But the closer you can get it to the work, the more air you can force through that very small cut.

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Now we have several setup problems we have to consider. Number one, we’ve got a steel base plate in here, and this steel base plate is reflective.

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Once the beam cuts through the material, it will reflect off this surface and damage the back surface of the material.

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Now, in this particular instance, it doesn’t particularly matter,

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but we do need air underneath the job to blow the fumes away that are underneath the job.

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We really want the table flat. We can’t afford to have it too far out.

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I’m just going to do a quick test to start with to find out what speed I can use this tube to cut with.

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Now we have several different ways that we can set up for cutting. The way that

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I’m going to show you first, is one of the ways. Now we need to clamp the corners down.

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And this is the way that we do it with two magnets, one on the metal and one on top of the work.

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Now I’ve got a little step gauge here, which enables me to set this up to two millimetres.

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And there we go. I just dropped it onto the step gauge and it’s two millimetres.

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Let’s go and have a look at a program, and we’re going to draw something which you should have on your machine as a standard program. 20mm’s square.

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We’ll take our little square from here and we’ll put the start point up at the top left hand corner.

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Choose top left hand corner. Okay, let’s just say we’re going to cut that 20mm a second and we’ll use full power, which, if you remember,

Transcript for K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test (Cont…)

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we determined for this machine was 68 percent and we turn this into a cut rather than a scan.

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Yes. Do we need blowing? Yes, we do, because we are actually going to be cutting.

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So yes for cutting – blow. I’m going to download that to the machine.

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Just about made it, just! 20 millimetres a second is too fast for this particular,

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for 45 watts. So I’m going to have to turn this down to about, say, 17.

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Let’s play safe and run it at 15 millimetres a second. And there we have a nice light brown cut, which is not charred.

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But we have got some marking on the underneath here, some brown, but that brown is probably from… here.

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What we’ve got, we’ve got some condensation, which is the fumes condensing underneath, so we’ll just rub that off. The cut itself on the back,

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Is not showing any signs of reflection. Now, generally, corner magnets are good enough to hold it down completely flat.

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Now I realize that many people coming to the K40 will have never used a digital controller or certainly not RDWorks before.

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Now, I don’t want to get heavily involved with., like a tutorial on RDWorks,

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but I’m going to have to explain a few things to you so that you’ve got a bit of an understanding of how and why I’m doing certain things.

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You can go away and learn about RDWorks all on your own.

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There are lots of videos out there, I’ve done a whole series of them, and there are others as well. That explain how RDWorks operates.

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Generally, a program will be a DXF file, not exclusively, but generally and RDWorks loves DXF files.

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You’ll see that there are three other colors on here. We’ve got a blue, which is this frame around the outside.

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That’s one layer. We’ve got green, which is another layer, and we’ve got black. The green layer is going to be drawn.

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The black is going to be cut and the blue is going to be ignored, well

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not completely ignored because it’s an essential part of the job because the blue line is our material A4.

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We decided we would start right up in the top corner.

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When I take a look up here, I find that I’ve got pieces that are in the way of my magnets. And I’m going to move them out of the way of the magnets.

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So now I’ve got my magnets up here and there’s no problem.

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The magnets are in the way of my nozzle, so I can’t physically put the head on that corner and start.

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So I’m in the config / system setting, and I’m going to move the start point to the middle of the left hand side there.

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Watch where the green square goes. OK, so that’s where we’re going to position

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our head to start the job. We go to handle and down to cut optimize.

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We open up a window and in this window here, it says “Order of Layer”.

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You an set the way in which you want things to cut by the layer order.

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It’s over here. You can swap those around literally by just dragging them up and down.

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So we don’t want that. Inside to outside?

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Well, that’s another option. You want to cut from the inside of your shape to the outside, because you don’t want to cut the outside shape first.

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You always want the inside to be cut first. But I take that off. Don’t use that.

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And then I take everything else off. So basically, I’ve just disabled that window, OK?

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Because now I’m going to do everything the way that I want it done.

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I’ve got total control of how this job is going to be cut now.

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So these little things up the top here, are very important to you. Particularly that one, which is the middle one, which is group.

Transcript for K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test (Cont…)

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So I’m going to group things manually and sometimes you need to ungroup things.

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Generally, I will cut in the middle of a shape and then the outside instantly rather than cut this, cut this

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and then do this and this. Now provided we don’t catch the whole of the outside square.

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Only that, that’s inside will turn red and I can say group, and I’ll do the same to this one, group.

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You’ll see that we’ve got green squares around the outside of these black squares.

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But what we can do is very carefully. We can start roughly from one side. It doesn’t matter.

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And then when we get to the other side of the black square, we don’t catch all of the green, we just catch the black.

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And look, then we’ve just highlighted all the blacks. Hold down the shift key, which is important.

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Don’t catch the top of the green. And now we’ve just marked the black windowpanes.

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Hold down the shift key again, don’t catch all of the green, just the black?

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And there we go. Now, we also to catch this one as well.

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So hold down the shift key again and physically just touch on that one?

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And now there is a group which we can set into a group. So we catch just the blacks, then we hold down the shift key and click on that one as well.

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Now we can put those into a group, so we click on that one to start with.

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Then we hold down the shift key, and we do those. Hold down the shift key again.

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And we catch just those. We are going to have to do these individually, click click,

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click, click, and it looks as though these are too difficult to do as well,

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so we have to go round and click each one of these individually to add it to the group.

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And that’s all the holes? Yes it is. We can make those

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a group. Now we want to do the drawings as a group.

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All the green lines.

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And this is actually very easy. Because we’ve already set the black lines to a group, by using the shift key to add them to the group.

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You can use the shift key to subtract stuff as well.

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So what we do, we’ll just mark this whole item here.

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Like this, not the outside, okay?

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And, you notice we’ve caught both the blacks and the green lines. Well, if we hold the shift key down and remove the group that we set up.

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Remember, the cut group, which is that one. Look, we’ve taken all the cuts away.

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And what we’re left with, is the green group, which is now marked. So we can make the greens into a group.

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So we only caught part of the group and now what it’s done it’s collected just the green stuff.

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So we can make that into a group. We can do the same here again. We just missed this cut out here and all we’ve now done is selected the Greens.

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So now we’ve grouped everything and just beside the little preview window here, which is the blue monitor.

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You’ve got this thing looks like a flying bowtie.

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Click on that and what we have is basically a cut list. The order in which things are going to be cut.

323
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If we hadn’t grouped this, this list would be 100 as many items on here as you can see, we’ve reduced it to a fairly small number.

324
00:35:46,300 –> 00:35:50,260
We’re going to start off. We want to cut that group there. So I’ve clicked on that group,

325
00:35:50,260 –> 00:35:53,300
and you’ll see it’s highlighted here. So what we’re going to do,

326
00:35:53,300 –> 00:36:00,530
we’re going to create a new list. A new cut list, by using the double arrow at the top and sending that item across to a new list. And then we’re going to

Transcript for K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test (Cont…)

327
00:36:00,530 –> 00:36:08,220
cut the outside shape. Send that across. Then the middle of this.

328
00:36:08,220 –> 00:36:15,720
Send that across and the outsides. It really doesn’t matter how you organize these, because you’ll see

329
00:36:15,720 –> 00:36:20,340
in a minute, there are certain other rules that will apply. For the sake of uniformity,

330
00:36:20,340 –> 00:36:27,300
we will do the black layers here, so we do the internal black layer and then we’ll do the outside shape.

331
00:36:27,300 –> 00:36:31,270
There’s an outside shape. Cut, cut, cut.

332
00:36:31,270 –> 00:36:37,560
Because it’s an inside shape ,cut and then we’ll do our inside shapes and our

333
00:36:37,560 –> 00:36:46,590
outside shape. Three green groups left, and we got four items left.

334
00:36:46,590 –> 00:36:53,850
Now that’s going to puzzle you for a moment. So what we do, we do this green group here, then we do this green group here and this green group here.

335
00:36:53,850 –> 00:36:58,540
And finally, what we’re left with is the outside A4 frame.

336
00:36:58,540 –> 00:37:02,160
We have to include it on the list, even though we’re not going to cut it. So that’s it.

337
00:37:02,160 –> 00:37:09,270
OK, we’re done. So it didn’t really matter what order we got these in, because we are going to select these manually.

338
00:37:09,270 –> 00:37:14,280
Now, at the moment, what we’ve done; Is output? – No, we don’t want the output

339
00:37:14,280 –> 00:37:20,010
first of all, to cut. Because the first thing we want to do is draw. Speed,

340
00:37:20,010 –> 00:37:24,300
we decided was going to be 15. Power 68.

341
00:37:24,300 –> 00:37:28,780
And that’s it. So, I’ve this to not cut at the moment.

342
00:37:28,780 –> 00:37:33,720
That’s what that means. Don’t cut it. No. So let’s do the blue layer, click.

343
00:37:33,720 –> 00:37:40,290
It says no there. But if we say, OK, we don’t need to worry about the parameters, because we’re not going to cut it?

344
00:37:40,290 –> 00:37:46,200
But if we come over to here, what you’ll find is, we’ve got control of these outputs here.

345
00:37:46,200 –> 00:37:50,070
Look, it says yes, no, no. We can click on the yes and make it no.

346
00:37:50,070 –> 00:37:54,210
So we’ve now got no, no, no. The first thing that we want to do is the engraving. We’ll make it –

347
00:37:54,210 –> 00:38:00,180
Yes. The problem with engraving. It’s a cut.

Transcript for K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test (Cont…)

348
00:38:00,180 –> 00:38:07,380
So we can’t afford to have it cutting at 15mm a second or it will cut job out.

349
00:38:07,380 –> 00:38:15,000
We don’t want to do that. We want to mark the surface. So the first thing we have to do is change the speed, and I’ll change that to about 80.

350
00:38:15,000 –> 00:38:19,950
It’s quite fast. It doesn’t really matter. And I’ve got the power set to about 40.

351
00:38:19,950 –> 00:38:27,210
It’s still going to produce a cut because we’ve got the focus set at two millimeters.

352
00:38:27,210 –> 00:38:30,630
We really could do, when we draw a line.

353
00:38:30,630 –> 00:38:42,000
Lifting that focus up by probably five or six millimetres above where it would normally be. So that we get a dark line rather than a cut.

354
00:38:42,000 –> 00:38:49,230
So this is the reason why this is quite a complex job that I’m demonstrating to you in this test session.

355
00:38:49,230 –> 00:38:52,110
That’s one of the great advantages of having a magnet on here.

356
00:38:52,110 –> 00:38:58,230
The fact that this is relatively stable. Instead of two millimetres, I’m going to set this focus now.

357
00:38:58,230 –> 00:39:03,110
Seven millimetres. I have not changed the position of anything. I’ve just changed the focus.

358
00:39:03,110 –> 00:39:06,450
We’re running this from the PC, so we’ve got total control.

359
00:39:06,450 –> 00:39:24,070
And at the moment, we’ve got the green layer, which is the engraving layer set. Press the origin button, start.

360
00:39:24,070 –> 00:39:54,470
Nice black lines, even though we’re set well out of focus, look, they’re not very thick lines, they’re just nice black lines.

361
00:39:54,470 –> 00:40:00,680
Isn’t that amazing to see that working like that? Let’s just take the smoke away,

Transcript for K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test (Cont…)

362
00:40:00,680 –> 00:40:07,910
shall we? Look at the way the smoke draws away now. It doesn’t make any difference because I haven’t got this conn to the outside,

363
00:40:07,910 –> 00:40:21,860
it’s still going into my workshop and the place is filling up with smoke. OK, so there’s all our drawing done.

364
00:40:21,860 –> 00:40:27,830
Beautiful, isn’t it? We now come to here and we disable that layer.

365
00:40:27,830 –> 00:40:32,870
No, and we enable the cut layer. Yes.

366
00:40:32,870 –> 00:40:52,680
Before we can run that layer without disturbing the job, we’ve just got to set the focus back down to the cutting focus, which is 2mm.

367
00:40:52,680 –> 00:40:54,590
OK. Not that it makes any difference,

368
00:40:54,590 –> 00:41:16,910
but you can see the way in which the smoke is coming out from underneath the job and it’s drawing right out the back rapidly.

369
00:41:16,910 –> 00:41:25,900
We don’t want the smoke coming out the front, so we’ll drag it out the back.

370
00:41:25,900 –> 00:41:32,740
I mean, this is not making very much noise at all, is it? I mean, I’m really very pleased with this little set up.

371
00:41:32,740 –> 00:41:37,720
It is truly a micro version of my big machines.

372
00:41:37,720 –> 00:41:44,350
It’s doing exactly the same jobs wonderfully well, maybe just a fraction slower.

373
00:41:44,350 –> 00:41:52,950
This cutting because I’ve only got 45 watt tube? You can see the way in which the smoke is now drifting around in there.

374
00:41:52,950 –> 00:41:59,640
But as soon as I close the lid, it just whips straight out the back.

375
00:41:59,640 –> 00:42:03,510
That’s airflow management for you. I couldn’t have got any closer to the edge,

Transcript for K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test (Cont…)

376
00:42:03,510 –> 00:42:09,690
could I? [laughs] Let’s try not to drop the pieces in the crud!

377
00:42:09,690 –> 00:42:18,340
I’m glad this has happened. One of the problems that you’ll often find when you’re cutting birch plywood is this. Can you see that black mark

378
00:42:18,340 –> 00:42:28,730
there? That means that the cut has not gone through properly.

379
00:42:28,730 –> 00:42:33,470
These are fine. They just pop out, look, all these little pieces.

380
00:42:33,470 –> 00:42:37,400
They just pop out. But just here we’ve got a cut that’s failed.

381
00:42:37,400 –> 00:42:42,650
And if I look on the back, you can see where the cut has failed.

382
00:42:42,650 –> 00:42:47,450
And you may ask the question, why on earth would that happen? Because everywhere else is cut perfectly.

383
00:42:47,450 –> 00:42:55,540
And if we take a look, you can see. Where the cut has failed, just here. Let’s just break that out.

384
00:42:55,540 –> 00:42:59,350
There’s an air void in here, just below the surface.

385
00:42:59,350 –> 00:43:06,730
The smoke has collected in that void and smoke has absorbed the energy and it’s prevented the cut.

386
00:43:06,730 –> 00:43:12,520
You’ve got different plys and they’re glued together. And sometimes you get gaps.

387
00:43:12,520 –> 00:43:19,330
So we’ll keep the table clean as we go through some acetone.

388
00:43:19,330 –> 00:43:27,880
Now, if you don’t clean it while it’s sticky and fresh, it’ll start etching and working its way into the surface.

389
00:43:27,880 –> 00:43:33,370
And that’s what we made nicely snapped together. It doesn’t fall apart.

390
00:43:33,370 –> 00:43:40,010
It seems like my little LED strip doesn’t like being warm.

391
00:43:40,010 –> 00:43:44,830
No, it’s lost a lot of its stick underneath. A lot of, but not completely.

392
00:43:44,830 –> 00:43:50,860
So what we’re going to do is to use my [shows glue} and we’re going to mix the adhesive

393
00:43:50,860 –> 00:44:08,810
that’s on the back here. Use some blobs of glue. So the adhesive should hold it together long enough to let my blobs of glue set.

Transcript for K40 Xtreeem Laser Engraver – Let’s Put It To The Test (Cont…)

394
00:44:08,810 –> 00:44:13,460
Now we got a nice A4 sheet of textured card, red card.

395
00:44:13,460 –> 00:44:35,730
So the first thing we’re going to do is to, um, put pins to support the edge of the card.

396
00:44:35,730 –> 00:44:42,930
Pins set up on the outside, so now it’s just a matter of a few random pins and they can be completely random.

397
00:44:42,930 –> 00:44:51,190
Just to support the centre, and that’s probably enough. This works very well for me because I only need a two millimetre gap there to cut.

398
00:44:51,190 –> 00:44:56,070
OK, and here’s what we’re going to cut. Two sets, two things to look at.

399
00:44:56,070 –> 00:44:58,620
We’ve got all these shapes here, which are holes.

400
00:44:58,620 –> 00:45:10,560
So what we can do, we can come in here and we can go – like that and look, all these internal shapes have turned red.

401
00:45:10,560 –> 00:45:15,030
Not the external shape. So we can make that a group.

402
00:45:15,030 –> 00:45:18,930
So we’ll add something else to this as well. We’ll put a piece of text in.

403
00:45:18,930 –> 00:45:25,440
Let’s be very original shall we? Let’s put my name in and we’ll put it in in some fancy font.

404
00:45:25,440 –> 00:45:28,890
And it obviously doesn’t fit, so we make it fit.

405
00:45:28,890 –> 00:45:38,070
So we need to create Russ as a separate layer, which we’ll put it onto a blue layer into an engraving layer with a speed of 400.

406
00:45:38,070 –> 00:45:43,680
We did 400 when we were doing photo engraving, so we know we’ve got the settings in there for that.

407
00:45:43,680 –> 00:45:51,600
Not very much power, I wouldn’t think. Maybe 30 percent? And we need to have this as an engraving scan.

408
00:45:51,600 –> 00:45:58,050
You can get away with a little less than point one, point one five maybe? Point one five.

409
00:45:58,050 –> 00:46:04,440
Okay, so first of all. We’ll group that lot, then we’ll group Russ.

410
00:46:04,440 –> 00:46:16,230
Let’s go to our order and we’ll use Russ as the first item, then we’ll use the internal parts as the second item and then cutting for the third item.

411
00:46:16,230 –> 00:47:00,800
And there we go, it was that quick! Now, the great advantage of the air assist here is, it’s blowing all the pieces straight out the bottom.

412
00:47:00,800 –> 00:47:22,400
That’s pretty impressive, isn’t it? OK, so that’s what it’s designed for.

413
00:47:22,400 –> 00:47:24,960
To sit on the edge of a glass.

414
00:47:24,960 –> 00:47:32,120
Now, while I’m taking this pin table apart. I will just show you that the pins literally sit through clearance holes.

415
00:47:32,120 –> 00:47:38,480
They’re very snug clearance holes, but the pins actually are sitting on the table itself.

416
00:47:38,480 –> 00:47:48,140
Which is why we need a flat metal surface underneath, because we’re basically projecting the metal surface up onto the top of the pins.

417
00:47:48,140 –> 00:47:56,770
Now you can see that this piece of 3mm board is bowed.

418
00:47:56,770 –> 00:48:17,020
OK, so I’ve got my magnets on the table here, and I push them under the corners.

419
00:48:17,020 –> 00:48:25,540
And what you’ll find is that the middle is well and truly bowed down.

420
00:48:25,540 –> 00:48:32,020
So what I’ve got, I’ve got a matching magnet in the middle there, that supports the middle.

421
00:48:32,020 –> 00:48:39,970
We should be able to pull the corners down with these other magnets.

422
00:48:39,970 –> 00:48:45,700
So even though it started off bent, it’s now gone back to flat, which is what we absolutely need,

423
00:48:45,700 –> 00:48:50,270
If we’re going to do any more photo engraving, which I promised you we would do.

424
00:48:50,270 –> 00:48:55,180
Now remember, before we do any photo engraving, we have to set the focus right.

425
00:48:55,180 –> 00:49:03,790
And we have to do a quick test to make sure we’ve got our dots correct because they may not be correct for this particular medium,

426
00:49:03,790 –> 00:49:19,290
so it may well have to adjust it. Remember I’m holding it on pause while the program loads.

427
00:49:19,290 –> 00:49:26,670
I’m running this at the speed I would normally run on my larger machines, 400mm/s.

428
00:49:26,670 –> 00:49:30,180
But the power is a bit different. And that’s why I had to experiment with it.

429
00:49:30,180 –> 00:49:35,160
I think you can immediately see the color difference between this and the card that I did before.

430
00:49:35,160 –> 00:49:46,180
Now I have treated this wood with a coating of Borax, and that’s why it’s a much darker color.

431
00:49:46,180 –> 00:50:00,040
Now, I can see this is going to come out absolutely amazing. So, no, I’m not cheating and doing this on another machine.

432
00:50:00,040 –> 00:50:08,950
I’ve been watching my water temperature throughout the time that we’ve been running this test and it’s been hovering 23, 25.

433
00:50:08,950 –> 00:50:12,370
It’s been for such a small amount of water in the system,

434
00:50:12,370 –> 00:50:18,710
the cooling is very efficient. So there we go. Let’s just have a quick close look at that.

435
00:50:18,710 –> 00:50:27,480
You can see every single hair in the ears. The real test of whether I’ve got my dots

436
00:50:27,480 –> 00:50:34,640
the right size, are things like the eyes and particularly the nose.

437
00:50:34,640 –> 00:50:41,000
Can you see the way in which I’ve got black nostrils and a black nose?

438
00:50:41,000 –> 00:50:46,070
That can only happen if I’ve got the size of dots right?

439
00:50:46,070 –> 00:50:48,710
And I’ll show you that on the original in a second.

440
00:50:48,710 –> 00:50:57,900
Okay, now I’m going to zoom in on the nose and what you can see there is white dots and black dots.

441
00:50:57,900 –> 00:51:06,910
There is a certain ratio of black to white that creates that very almost black color.

442
00:51:06,910 –> 00:51:10,450
Whereas look at the nostrils here, which are solid black,

443
00:51:10,450 –> 00:51:18,580
you cannot get this differentiation between these two if you get the wrong size dot because black

444
00:51:18,580 –> 00:51:29,140
dots will fill in all this little white areas around here and create this total blackness.

445
00:51:29,140 –> 00:51:34,630
So if you can’t see black nostrils on a black nose, the dot size is wrong.

446
00:51:34,630 –> 00:51:38,050
We’ll just want to take one final look at his nose. And there we go.

447
00:51:38,050 –> 00:51:42,610
You can see what I mean. Black nostrils on a black nose.

448
00:51:42,610 –> 00:51:48,400
That’s the most demanding part of this picture that tells me that I’ve got my dot size, right!

449
00:51:48,400 –> 00:51:57,110
Well, am I happy boy? Of course I am. Let’s just shut the machine down.

450
00:51:57,110 –> 00:52:04,150
So it’s not terribly noisy, is it? But. Hey, after six sessions,

451
00:52:04,150 –> 00:52:16,570
I hope you’ve enjoyed this relatively short and quick and simple journey dragging this machine from ordinary to extraordinary! Job done.

452
00:52:16,570 –> 00:52:23,808
Thanks for your time. Bye.

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Last updated August 26, 2021

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