07 – Understanding Your Autofocus (18:45)

The Lightblade Learning Lab with Russ Sadler

The Lightblade Learning Lab is a series of videos that Russ did for Thinklaser Limited based on using the Lightblade 4060 Laser Cutting and Engraving Machine. Thinklasers Lightblade 4060 has a 400 x 600mm bed size and was supplied with a 60W EFR laser tube. In this video Russ discusses you laser cutter autofocus to help you understand how it works.

Laser Cutter Autofocus Probe and lens nozzle
Laser Cutter Autofocus Probe and Lens nozzle

Contents

  • Z-axis movement
  • Speeds
  • Pen microswitch
  • Process for setting focus
  • Checking that the head is locked up
  • The auto-focus function
  • Adjusting the height of the lens assembly for different bed thicknesses
  • Care with heights
  • Moving the head horizontally
  • Different table formats, using a pin table for paper, magnets on steel plate
  • Using a home-made nut grip for the lens assembly adjustment
  • Using ball bearings as a support with the honeycomb bed

My thanks go out to Tom at Thinklaser for giving permission to embed these videos on this site. If you are looking for a new laser machine from a quality supplier, then I would suggest you check out their website: www.thinklaser.com.

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Transcript For Understanding Your Laser Cutter Autofocus

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00:15

well welcome to another light blade

00:18

learning lab today we’re going to do

00:22

another very important initiative

00:25

session before you go flying off on this

00:28

machine and try and do all sorts of

00:30

wonderful things there are still a few

00:32

basics that you must grab hold off as i

00:36

pointed out to you guys when I first

00:38

started these sessions off i’m learning

00:40

this machine the same as you

00:43

I’ve not been used to this system here

00:45

which is an autofocus system to me I’ve

00:49

always has

00:50

if i want to lay the table i press the

00:53

button and the table comes up now my

00:56

table doesn’t do that

00:57

this table has got a lot of over right

00:59

now that you noticed stop the button and

01:02

it carries on for another two seconds i

01:04

use the button

01:05

two seconds it takes two seconds to stop

01:09

unless ok this might switch here

01:18

stop that table a lot quicker than the

01:20

manual shift button so if we look just

01:23

under here you’ll see that we’ve got a

01:25

microswitch that microswitch there is in

01:31

fact detecting the top of this table

01:33

stroke and there is an interplay between

01:35

that switch and this which here which

01:39

sets up the autofocus system what we do

01:42

want to know is how to make sure that we

01:46

don’t damage this micro switch system

01:48

called a pen and for obvious reasons you

01:51

can see what’s called a pen

01:52

I’ve already had a Gallic trying to wipe

01:54

this pin out because of my stupid he

01:56

might experience

01:57

ok so i had been stupid but i’d like to

Transcript For Understanding Your Laser Cutter Autofocus (Cont…)

02:00

pass on the experience that I gained

02:02

from that stupid t to you so that you

02:04

don’t run the same risk of wiping out

02:06

this pen microswitch so what I’m going

02:09

to demonstrate to you is a standard way

02:12

that you should approach autofocus

02:14

setting is going to change the thickness

02:16

of your material and all the way in

02:19

which your bed is configured at the

02:20

moment we’ve got it configured with

02:22

that’s on it and a few moments time

02:23

we’ll put that he counted on and we’ll

02:25

start off with a honeycomb be okay we’ll

02:28

start by looking at the control panel

02:30

itself and if you remember the last time

02:31

to control the bay going up and down you

02:34

press the blue button and at the top

02:37

there we’ve got that move which allows

02:39

you to make the table go down

02:41

or raise the table up they can do that

02:44

manually and you can get it me where you

02:46

want it you don’t have to you can just

02:50

leave it where ever it last time and we

02:54

can start from there

02:55

so if we jump down to autofocus but

02:58

before I press the enter button i’m

02:59

going to focus on the job so that we can

Transcript For Understanding Your Laser Cutter Autofocus (Cont…)

03:01

see what’s gonna happen know what I got

03:03

to do first of all it’s partly sunny San

03:05

been no I could be wanting to mark

03:09

something like that

03:13

now obviously that was going to their so

03:16

what I would have to do would be to

03:18

press the down key to start with to even

03:22

get it under there so i have to drift

03:24

look drop the table to start with but

03:26

under the user much worse case than that

03:28

which is going to test the machine to

03:30

its list and that’s have been facing

03:32

material that make it easier to see

03:36

what’s going on we can bring the tech

03:37

bring the hate towards us now I’ve set

03:41

the Machine up before i press the auto

03:43

focus button stop and think always stop

03:48

and think what haven’t I done well the

03:51

one thing I haven’t done and I want to

03:53

make a big point of this because this is

03:56

most important

03:57

now I’ve got a little extension handle

03:59

on here which we’ll talk about in a

Transcript For Understanding Your Laser Cutter Autofocus (Cont…)

04:00

minute but I want you to first of all

04:03

undo the hate and slide it right up to

04:08

the top of its stroke and lock it up

04:11

that is the most important lesson that

04:14

you will ever learn about autofocus and

04:18

now we can go and we compress the

04:20

autofocus button enter

04:36

now you notice the noble heavy touched

04:40

the table is doing a bit of farm dunk

04:45

let’s play game right leg out and now

04:50

it’s backed off your dimension that is

04:53

about eight millimeters below the nozzle

04:57

I say about

05:02

it’s a dimension that has been decided

05:04

and set for the focus of that lens now

05:07

all lenses are set to the same clearance

05:10

here and we’ll talk about that in a

05:12

completely separate session about lenses

05:13

at the moment this is autofocus day so

05:18

we have now set the auto focus up

05:20

successfully and we can go away and we

05:22

could cut a job without touching

05:25

anything

05:25

now the important thing here is and i’m

05:29

going to show you this we can drive this

05:31

state to the extremities and it touches

05:35

nothing we can drive it to the back

05:38

extremity and it touches nothing

05:43

we can drive over here and it touches

05:47

nothing i will show you something about

05:49

that position in a few minutes time

05:51

which is why I want you to understand

05:54

the first and most important lesson is

05:57

lift the head up will check the last

Transcript For Understanding Your Laser Cutter Autofocus (Cont…)

06:00

position

06:01

there’s nothing airport to hit scenario

06:04

number two we successfully complete that

06:06

job using the honey contains we’re not

06:09

going to remove that ago table i’m going

06:12

to be going to use the flat instincts

06:14

and will now ask it to reset the

06:17

autofocus

06:19

think think think this is already at the

06:23

top of its stroke so i don’t have to do

06:26

that again

06:29

oh yeah

06:39

the table is basically gone up to the

06:42

microswitch tested the microswitch

06:44

position two or three times backed off

06:46

to a position a safe position now only

06:51

now can we do this now what we’re going

06:54

to do now is we’re going to drop this

06:55

pen down by the way at all times you can

Transcript For Understanding Your Laser Cutter Autofocus (Cont…)

07:01

undo these screws and this will

07:06

got these diner finger tight because I

07:09

know when I don’t want to run the risk

07:10

of stripping the trades at all stages

07:12

look this thing can be loose the correct

07:17

setting position for this it down on its

07:20

collar

07:21

ok that’s now secure is not moving

07:23

around be beat but we’re going to try

07:27

and do now is we’re going to drop this

07:28

down to get the to get the sensor to

07:33

just about touch and service

07:36

we’re not trying to make the switch we

07:38

just try to get it within half a meal or

07:42

a millimeter of the surface and then

07:44

we’ll tighten up and lock in that

07:50

position

07:54

now we’ll go back and we’ll try the

07:56

autofocus

07:59

Walter focused into

Transcript For Understanding Your Laser Cutter Autofocus (Cont…)

08:18

now bear in mind that i’ve got one and a

08:22

half millimeter material on there at the

08:24

moment you couldn’t get much done in

08:27

that except card but what I’m now going

08:30

to do is to demonstrate some way that

08:33

you can easily make a mistake if you

08:35

don’t follow these rules will drive the

08:39

head to the back and we can see that the

08:41

sensor is well clear of this surface

08:44

because it’s a 16 plus whatever gap you

08:48

can see there now on this side of the

08:50

machine here there is no way the sensor

08:55

can ever get to this back point here

08:59

because it’s always sitting forward of

09:02

it so there’s no way that sensor can

09:04

touch even if it’s set wrongly can

09:07

attach this back face here or this age

09:09

and it can’t get to this edge because

09:12

it’s on the wrong side and not always

09:14

clear this surface

09:15

let’s see what happens when we get to

09:17

the other end of the stroke now at that

09:19

point there

09:20

the sensor is becoming at risk

09:27

we’re not at the end of the stroke yet

09:29

but the center is still well clear of

09:33

this surface here there we are now at

09:39

the end of the stroke that the sensor

09:40

goes beyond the extremity of the stroke

09:43

of the Machine and that’s why it’s most

09:45

important that you go through this

09:47

correct setting procedure

09:49

otherwise you will like this essentially

09:51

if ever you drive over to this H

09:53

position so i mentioned in a previous

09:54

session about moving them hate around

09:57

with the XY buttons i want to just

Transcript For Understanding Your Laser Cutter Autofocus (Cont…)

10:00

notice how quickly hate stops when I

10:03

lift my finger though it move move the

10:10

point I want to make there is if you run

10:11

it 200 you’ll get an overrun and you’ve

10:15

got to anticipate the end of the stroke

10:17

with a hundred millimeters per second

10:20

it’s completely snapped responses and

10:23

it’s still fast enough to move around

10:24

the job really quickly

10:26

you have got to be that patient to wait

10:28

for it we’re going to change to another

10:30

table format now and this is a table

10:33

format that I have designed for myself

10:37

this is not anything to do we think

10:39

later they may decide to adopt this is

10:42

an alternative but if not you can make

10:46

one yourself

10:48

now is this is a pin table for cutting

10:53

card particularly for card not have is a

10:58

series of dolls which dropped show this

11:00

to show the table

11:03

and they locate on the steel surface

11:06

underneath so all the pins for the same

11:08

length and by the time we finish up with

11:10

a series of pins on here we should

11:12

finish up with effectively a pin

11:13

projections of this flat surface like

11:17

this

11:22

ok now

11:24

I’m not going to go too far with this

11:26

other than the fact that one of the

11:28

problems is gonna have it because we

11:30

want to cut paper and we also focus on

11:32

paper could be a little tricky card

11:37

well card is generally around about half

11:39

a millimeter thick and so we got to half

11:42

millimeter thick stainless steel there

11:44

and that’s what i should use for setting

11:48

up Mike autofocus let’s go through the

11:52

same routine again the more we do it the

11:55

safe would be because it’ll be ingrained

11:57

into our brain to get the procedure

11:59

right so before I press the auto focus

Transcript For Understanding Your Laser Cutter Autofocus (Cont…)

12:03

button

12:03

have I got my head raised right up yes

12:07

autofocus check check check again

12:10

yes

12:33

ok now

12:36

the fact that i’ve got the head right up

12:38

means that there’s no chance ever so

12:41

that’s going to get anywhere near any of

12:43

these external surfaces so when you see

12:46

that

12:47

hi you’re completely safe so now i can

12:49

go ahead like put my card or paper on

12:52

there and it would be company in focus

12:53

now something else that I regularly use

12:57

particularly for cutting acrylic I don’t

13:01

have a honeycomb paid on my other

13:02

machine and so in general what I try to

13:05

do is when cutting acrylic are usually

13:09

little things still play magnets

13:15

fantastic and what that allows me to do

13:20

is to raise the acrylic off the surface

13:24

so that i can get airflow underneath and

13:29

quite often I we used to

13:30

rather than you can have whatever

13:33

thickness you like it’s a space this is

13:36

my approach is another cheat approach to

13:39

the same problem

13:41

get yourself a set of matched donuts and

13:46

they would do the job just as well i

13:49

personally wouldn’t use donut or

13:51

anything like that all magnets for

13:53

supporting card which reducing card work

13:57

in a future session and i’ll show you

13:59

the importance of a pin beach and just

Transcript For Understanding Your Laser Cutter Autofocus (Cont…)

14:02

ride the lesson home

14:07

with one last attempt

14:11

so we’re going to set the auto focus on

14:13

this job this time

14:15

that’s five millimeter acrylic is packed

14:18

up who knows too white

14:21

it doesn’t matter so we go to the

14:25

autofocus and before we push the

14:28

autofocus enter button check check check

14:32

are we at the top of the stroke yes

14:43

so now we’re doing the barn down we’re

14:48

not in quite the right position so we

14:51

have to let this down let it down onto

14:55

and lifted up from the half a mil

15:05

so now we can try the autofocus again

15:08

for the last time

15:10

autofocus yes everything’s okay

15:32

there we go

15:35

so I hope after half a dozen uses of the

15:37

autofocus in different positions the

15:40

message is sticky now just before we

15:43

close this session i did say earlier on

15:45

that I would have a quick talk about

15:48

this as you can see the not that

15:50

supplied with the machine has got

15:52

something to grips on it here but to be

15:55

honest I found it very difficult to find

15:59

it on my day off I mean I never have to

Transcript For Understanding Your Laser Cutter Autofocus (Cont…)

16:01

touch this on my chinese machine that

16:04

I’ve got over there because it hasn’t

16:05

got also focus on it but this has become

16:08

quite an important feature for an

16:10

autofocus machine to be able to quickly

16:12

and easily undo this nut and i found it

16:16

difficult to undo it

16:18

so I’ve made myself an eight-millimeter

16:21

acrylic adapter

16:27

and you can see it works wonderfully

16:32

well required for it let’s do a nice

16:39

solid lock on there and I’m sure that

16:43

they will be a copy of this file sync

16:45

later if you do need

16:52

now although i have made you don’t not

16:55

as being a reasonable alternative to

16:58

make it something I must reiterate that

17:01

this steel plate is not something that

17:03

comes as part of the inflator kit so if

17:08

you don’t have the facilities to make a

17:11

flat steel plate that will fit on here

17:14

and you want to use the existing

17:16

honeycomb page you can use the donut

17:22

again as I described to you earlier or

17:26

you could use small ball bearings say

17:31

six or eight millimeter ball bearings

17:33

will get more sit in the honey co now

17:36

both of these options are certainly

17:40

cheaper than making a pin base for

17:42

yourself

17:43

the only problem is that anything that

17:47

is much more than a pinprick if the

17:51

laser beam part is over it it’s going to

17:53

produce a reflection mark and so you’ve

17:56

got to be very careful about how you

17:58

place these under your job must again

Transcript For Understanding Your Laser Cutter Autofocus (Cont…)

18:01

stress i’m not think later employee this

18:04

is not a things like the machine this is

18:06

my machine which are personalizing but I

18:09

am trying to produce a series of videos

18:12

you guys to follow using a standard

18:15

think laser machine which is why i’m

18:16

giving you all the options in the

18:18

alternatives but thanks very much for

18:20

your attention

18:22

I think you’ll probably soon be able to

18:23

swim without your arm bands on and we’ve

18:26

got one or two more little more

18:29

important sessions to do with that will

18:31

make you more efficient at programming

18:34

and giving you a a wider understanding

18:36

of how this machine works or how the

18:38

software works so thanks for watching

18:42

and I’ll see you at the next decision

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