09 – Laser Beam Alignment Guide (19:25)

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 designs, builds and demonstrates the use of a laser beam alignment guide tool that can be safely used on most laser systems.

Laser Beam Alignment Guide Tool
Laser Beam Alignment Guide Tool

Contents

  • Making the beam Guide (a device which sits on the bed and allows the user to check how well centred is the beam emerging from the head)
  • File parameters and importing DXF text information
  • Another example of grouping and ordering objects ready for cutting and scoring
  • Cutting card
  • Lenses and how fine a cut is
  • Assembly of parts
  • Use of the beam guide

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 Laser Beam Alignment Guide Tool

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0:09Welcome to another Lightblade Learning

0:15Lab, now the plan today was to jump onto

0:19the machine and do a benchmarking set of

0:21tests

0:23sadly I realized that i was a tool short

0:27and so we’re going to have to make that

0:30tool. When I say I’m a tool short

0:33I actually do have a tool for doing the

0:35job but it’s not told you can use for

0:38doing the job

0:39my tool requires me to have the lid open

0:41and you won’t be able to do that but i

0:44think it’s a sufficiently important

0:46piece of kit that I have redesigned it

0:49so that you can use it hands-free with

0:53the cover closed. I’m very politely

0:55calling it a beam health checker, that

1:01isn’t what I really call it and i will

1:04explain that when we get down to the

1:06machine. In the meantime what we’ve got

1:09here on this page is two pieces of kit

1:13we’ve got some acrylic two millimetres

1:16thick and we’ve got some card 200 gram

1:19which is about half or three-quarters of

1:21millimeter thick if you don’t have any

1:24200 gram white card cut the back off a

1:27cereal box and use the plain side of the

1:30cardboard it would do the job just as

1:32well. First off we’re going to delete

1:35that bit because I always bring the

1:38whole of the job in on one .dxf file and

1:41then I just program them separately

1:43because obviously we can’t program card

1:46and acrylic on the same job

1:49so we don’t need the words acrylic on

1:51there and just for your reference the

1:56text that comes in here you might not

1:59find text coming in on your .dxf

Transcript For Laser Beam Alignment GuideTool (Cont…)

2:01file

2:02well if you go up here to config and

2:06look at file parameter setting one of

2:09the things that ticked up here on mine

2:11which may not be ticked by default on

2:13yours is import DX text information now

2:18it is quite important that maybe you

2:20have that set, because on a lot of the

2:22drawing files that I do i do add text

2:24information about where you can get

2:26things from and it would be very

2:28convenient to probably see those on this

2:30screen if you have no other means of

2:32reading dxf files

2:33ok that’s just an aside so we should

2:37delete the acrylic and there we are we’re

2:41left with a clean file now as I said to

2:44you

2:44you’re welcome to come up here and use

2:46the first technique with cut optimized

2:48handles I don’t go down that route so

2:51I’m afraid you’re going to follow me

2:52so first of all I’m going to capture all

2:55of the holes here

2:58and then I’m going to pop down the shift

3:00key and catch all the holes just here so

3:04that’s all the holes, I’m going to put

3:05them into one group now the outsides are

3:08easy because all I’m gonna do is go

3:09across the whole lot in that much

3:12hold down the shift key and do the other

3:14bits and pieces, there we go that’s all

3:17the outside captured group organize

3:21them, two groups dead easy isn’t it and so we just

3:25click on the click on the holes and put

3:29them in a group and then we’ll put that

3:30lock their across in another group done

3:34so that’s most of the programming done

3:37all we’ve got to do is double-click on the

3:38black layer up here to open up the

3:41cutting parameters themselves now

3:44remember this is 2 millimetre acrylic

3:46speed for 2 millimetre acrylic on this

3:49machine I’m still not fully confident

3:52with it because I’m not familiar with

3:54all its capability at the moment plus

3:57the fact that it’s got a 2-inch lens in

3:59it which I’m not used to so I’m going to

Transcript For Laser Beam Alignment GuideTool (Cont…)

4:01have to play safe. Speeds I think I’m

4:05going to reduce that to something like

4:06maybe 15 millimetres a second just to

4:12play safe and then we put the power up

4:14as high as I can which if you remember

4:15on this machine is sixty-seven percent

4:18that’s the maximum i can program into

4:21the machine

4:22ok save that to a U-file

4:26ok now I’ve finish with this file. I could

4:28either load the file in again or a quick

4:34and simple way a trick

4:36is to press controls Z a few times

4:37carefully 1 2 3 4 and there we go we’ve

4:42brought them all back into life and this

4:45is the A4 card that we were using and

4:49the only reason it’s there so that you

4:51can see how I’ve laid them out on a

4:52piece of a4 card so we can delete that

4:55as well

4:56whoops so we need to hold down the shift

4:58key delete that bit delete that bit and

5:05there we go

5:05we’ve cleaned that up, we don’t need that we

5:08delete that bit and now we’ll program

5:10this bit. Now this bits easy because all

5:13we’ve got are these holes in here which are

5:16not actually holes these little things

5:19they’re going to be scorch marks we

5:22don’t want them to cut through we want the

5:24outside shape to cut through and again

5:26if we look closely the outside shape has

5:30not been completed its purposely been

5:32left with a little gap there so that

5:34these pieces stay tagged into the sheet

5:36so we’re going to mark these little circles to

5:39start with because they’re targets and

5:42because they’re going to be scorched

5:43they can’t be on the same layer as the

5:46cuts because they’re completely

5:48different cutting parameters so we’ll

5:50first of all go around and we’ll collect

5:51all those little holes hold down the

5:54shift key and we keep the shift key held

5:57and we’ll go down these one block at a

5:59time and we’ll collect them

Transcript For Laser Beam Alignment Guide Tool (Cont…)

6:07ok we’ve collected all the holes and we’ve

6:10collected none of the outside shapes

6:12we’re going to put those into a group

6:14and now it looks as though we’re gonna

6:18have a lot of trouble collecting all of

6:20these outside shapes

6:21no we’re not all we do is this we go

6:24across to the last but one hold down the

6:28shift key and then collect the last one

6:31and there we go all the shapes done in a

6:35group and then we’re going to order them

6:38well we’ve got two items to order again

6:40so we got the scorch marks and we’ve got

6:43the outside shape

6:45ok now what we haven’t done at the

6:49moment is put them on a different layer

6:51but it’s easy because now that we’ve put

6:53these into a group we’ve only got click

6:55on one of these holes click and we’ve

7:00collected all of the holes and we can

7:02pop them onto a blue layer which we’ve now

7:04done

7:05technically the blue layer should be

7:08above the black layer if it’s going to

7:11cut first but it’s not going to worry us

7:13because we’ve specified how we want

7:15these things cut so we’ll just go and

7:18check what settings we’ve got for the

7:20blue layer and the blue layer is a bit

7:24of an interesting one because oh it’s

7:28okay 200 millimetres a second

7:30the problem I remember, I remember

7:32telling you this before because we’ve

7:33got very small shapes here

7:36the machine is never going to get to any

7:38maximum speed so really what we put in

7:41here is immaterial provided it’s fast enough

7:44to keep the machine going as fast as it

7:46can go

7:47because we want these marks to burn

7:49rather than cut and then we need to put

7:52the power probably as low as we can

7:54possibly get it just above where the

7:57machine will actually fire

Transcript For Laser Beam Alignment Guide Tool (Cont…)

8:00and probably ten percent might be it

8:03it might be eight percent it might be

8:04twelve percent will try ten percent and see

8:06how it goes okay

8:14so we’ll save that for file and we’ll go

8:16out to the machine. For these first few

8:18sessions I’m going to keep repeating

8:21some of the stuff that already

8:22demonstrated just to try and hammer it home

8:24because some of these things are very

8:26important and one of the most important is the

8:28autofocus we’ve got some two-millimetre

8:31acrylic here check is the head fully

8:34up. OK so we just make sure that the

8:36probe is over the workpiece and that

8:39the head is fully up which it is and now we

8:42can press our autofocus enter

8:46and it doesn’t want to get there

8:58wait till it’s settled to it safe position and

9:02then we can manually set the probe down

9:10onto the work and lift it up just a

9:12shade, down and up about half a mil

9:24and there we go, now we can press the auto

9:26focus button again

9:37we’ve got the program loaded and we need to

9:39first of all move this to the

9:41appropriate corner of the job which will

9:44always be there

9:47move it away from that magnet support

9:50because I think I’ve got enough material

9:51at the end there i can press the origin

9:53point there and now frame

9:58there we go we’re staying within the

Transcript For Laser Beam Alignment Guide Tool (Cont…)

10:00material. Right, now we have the

10:02extraction on we’re ready to go

10:20that’s cut quite cleanly

10:24its that watery

10:26substance that I was telling you about

10:28the sticky substance that gets produced

10:32when you cut

10:37yeah it’s all on the back here as well

10:39which is good that it’s settled on the

10:41back of the product because it means

10:42it’s not settling in the filter system

10:50This honeycomb bed has one great advantage for

10:53cutting cards and paper if you’re not

10:56worried about marks on the back and that

10:58is in fact the airflow that’s passing

11:00through here has got like a suction

11:02effect which flattens the paper out onto the

11:04table, just press the origin again to reset

11:06the origin and away we go

11:22the machine is moving around very nicely

11:24it’s quiet doesn’t rattle and

11:26rock’n’roll

11:29it’s a very smooth action

11:34I think those cuts are still too thick

11:44but that may well be because it’s a 2″ lens and I’m always used to

11:47looking at one and a half inch lens line which

11:50is very very fine

11:56okay just for comparison I’ve run the

11:59same program on my other machine but with the

Transcript For Laser Beam Alignment Guide Tool (Cont…)

12:01one-and-a-half inch lens and

12:05I know this is nothing to do with this

12:06particular job but it’s all part of the

12:09learning process you can see that it’s a

12:12much much finer cut than we’re

12:15currently getting with this particular

12:17lens now I don’t know whether this thick

12:21cut is because of the lens which I know

12:23will have a different cut width but I

12:26didn’t think it would probably be quite

12:28as big a difference is this

12:31but we should find out when we do a

12:33little bit more investigation work

12:34further into the series

12:37now because it’s nice and convenient

12:39and light I’m going to be using the

12:43machine as a workbench now, this is a

12:45little workshop em now these are the

12:48pieces that we’ve just cut and I’m going

12:51to make them up into a very simple

12:53little assembly we’ve got long pieces

12:55and we’ve got short pieces we want

12:57the four long pieces to start with we

13:00should find these with like two slots

13:02pointing up away from these tongues drop

13:06those into that square first like that

13:10stand them up in the square, we should find

13:14the other ones which have got slots

13:15along the bottom each and they’re good

13:19they will go together and make a little

13:21little square assembly like that and now

13:25that we’ve got them together we’re going

13:26to use some of our cement we’re going to

13:29just to run the bead of cement along the

13:32bottom of each edge. What we will do is turn

13:40it upside down and we’ll just apply pressure to

13:45the bottom of it for about half a minute

13:48okay

13:50and having done that we can put that

13:51aside now the one that we want to work

13:54on is the one with the curved slots in it

13:59and you’ll find that there’s two with

Transcript For Laser Beam Alignment Guide Tool (Cont…)

14:02slots that stick up in the air so the

14:05slot, ones with slots up go on opposite

14:08sides first and then you’ll find there,

14:11the other remaining pair have of got slots

14:14pointing downwards and they cross lap

14:17into there like that, to make another

14:21little box assembly and we’ve got to do the

14:23same with that one

14:24we’re gonna have to put some glue along

14:26the edges and again we’ll try and turn that over

14:28we’ll hold that upside down for another

14:3530 seconds or so we’re missing one vital

14:37part i’m sure that somewhere around your

14:40promises you will have i’m sure you’ll

14:42have some elastic bands now they don’t

14:45need to be very big elastic bands but I

14:48don’t know what size I want

14:50so I’m gonna try the small ones to start

14:52with

14:53they may or may not work oh yes they

14:57will work

14:59look we’re going to thread two elastic bands, we’re going to thread an elastic

15:07band through that way and an elastic band

15:11through that way and we’ve just made a

15:19little trampoline

15:19look. Because we’re going now to add to the

15:25trampoline one of these little targets

15:27that you made and we pop the target in

15:32there like that and this last piece sits

15:38on top of the target like that and I can

15:43hear you saying, what sort of worms are in

15:47that guy’s brain

15:49what the hell is that? I did promise you

15:53I’d tell you what all this was about

15:54when we got back to the Machine and I’ve

15:57now turned the machine on and i’m just

15:59going to drop the table a little bit

Transcript For Laser Beam Alignment Guide Tool (Cont…)

16:01here I’ve got something which I’ve

16:06always affectionately called the laser

16:09world’s answer to an Anal thermometer

16:11the only way you can tell it’s an anal

16:13thermometer as opposed to an oral

16:14thermometer is probably the taste! This

16:17particular little piece of kit is the same sort

16:20of thing that your mum used to use when

16:22you said “ahh I’ve got a headache mom”, “I’ve got a

16:25stomach ache mom, I can’t go to school

16:26today” and the first thing she’d do is get

16:29the thermometer out and she’d put it in

16:31your mouth and very quickly she says

16:34″there’s nothing wrong with you, off you go”

16:35well this is the same sort of technique

16:38that I’m going to be using here and it’s

16:41a very quick and dirty way of checking

16:43whether or not the machine is in ill

16:47health

16:47now the normal use for this, is you put a

16:51piece of masking tape on the back like

16:53that and then at each corner of the machine

16:58in the back corner and in the middle of

17:00the Machine and I will just pop this

17:02into the middle of the machine, doesn’t

17:03matter where it is at the moment to be

17:05honest, but you pop that into the middle

17:07of the Machine you would set the pulse

17:10power in other words the maximum power

17:13on the machine button you’d set that to

17:15fifteen percent so that it’s fairly low

17:17power the holes in here just neatly fit

17:21over and snuggle onto the end of the

17:23nozzle there so that the hole centres

17:25on the nozzle and then you can just do

17:28beep which is a pulse and there we go

17:33look you get a beautiful hole and if you

17:38put that around the machine in five

17:40positions you would expect to get.

17:43I’ve got a pattern a perfect pattern

17:45there where all the holes are

17:46exactly the same because obviously i’ve

17:49used it in the same position but if you

17:51move it around the Machine those holes

17:53should be like that, all in the same

17:55position, if they’re all out of position

17:57it means your beam is totally incorrect

Transcript For Laser Beam Alignment Guide Tool (Cont…)

18:00but the problem is I can’t ask you to do

18:05this because I need the cover open to

18:08hold it under the nozzle but this is

18:11such a powerful test that i have

18:13reinvented this device to something that

18:16you can use for yourself and its this little

18:20trampoline. What we’re going to do we’re

18:24going to raise the table now so there’s

18:27about maybe an eighth of an inch overlap

18:30between this and the end of the nozzle

18:32what I can then do is this is the

18:35central position look I can just pop

18:37that on there like that and it’s held up

18:41against the nozzle and now i can just go

18:43pulse

18:49and if we look carefully at that, we can now

18:51see, hmmm it’s not very central is it? That’s

18:56another interesting point it’s all over

18:59to one edge, that’s what this piece of kit is

19:03and we should be using that in the next

19:06session to find out just what the

19:09benchmarking data is for this machine

19:11and we’ll if necessary will give the

19:15Machine a tune-up so I think we’re all

19:18now kitted out ready to start and the

19:21next session will be all about finding

19:22out just what we’ve got here

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