Session 13 – Machine Parameters and Loading Files

The Concise RDWorks Learning Lab Series

Welcome to Module 2 of the new Concise RDWorks Learning Lab Series with Russ Sadler. Module 2 will build on the information learned in Module 1 and will provide practical machine set-up sessions as well as more detailed subject material. So let’s learn all about laser cutting machine parameters and loading files.

In this Session, Russ covers the machine parameters such as calibrating the X and Y axis, machine speed, etc. RDWorks discussed and backing up the machine settings through the Vendor Settings. Individual parameters are explained. User Parameters Settings in the software are explained and backed up. Layer Parameters explained for cutting. Communicating with the laser machine.

Release Date: 12th October 2021

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 and to sort out the truths, half truths and outright misleading information that is available on the web.

Six years later with over 3 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.

Laser cutting machine parameters - getting great laser cuts
Laser cutting machine parameters – getting great laser cuts

In this new series, Russ has condensed his knowledge and experience of the last 6 years to provide valuable information and insights into the purchasing, understanding, use, repair and maintenance of the Chinese CO2 laser machines and their key component parts.

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Transcript for Laser Cutting Machine Parameters and Loading Files

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The Concise RDWorks Learning Lab with Russ Sadler. Session 13: Machine Parameters and Loading Files. Now in the previous session.

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We managed to get the machine started and you saw that there was an automatic started routine built into the brain,

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into the controller that enabled it to find zero zero for its work area.

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Now, there are many other parameters the machine needs to carry out its work, before we even put a program anywhere near the machine,

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for example, is 20 millimeters, 20 millimeters of movement on the stepper motors.

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Somehow they have to be calibrated so that the stepper motor or the brain knows what our 20 millimeters or two inches or 10 inches looks like.

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So we have to make that calibration accurate, how fast are we are allowed to run the stepper motors.

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We can’t run them too fast because if we do, the motors will do that horrible noise that we spoke about last time.

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Cogging. We should lose steps and steps are most important when you’ve got an open loop system.

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Remember that the controller is sending out pulses, but it’s not keeping an eye on what the stepper motor is doing.

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All it’s doing is sending signals to the stepper motor.

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If we get an interruption because I put my finger in the way, as I showed you last time, everything goes to pot.

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There are all sorts of parameters that need to be set in this machine.

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And when you receive your machine, those parameters will already be preset by the manufacturer.

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One of the things that you must do when you first start your machine up, is to save those manufacturer parameters.

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Now, the software that we’re going to talk about later gives an impression that the

Transcript for Laser Cutting Machine Parameters and Loading Files (Cont…)

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manufacturer has already saved those parameters into a manufacturer’s parameter file.

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I wouldn’t trust that at all, because I’ve known too many people lose the parameters for their machine as

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they’re messing around and they preload the factory parameters, only to find their machine is totally junk.

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And they have to start from square one and beg, steal and borrow parameter files from somebody else.

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So listen to other people’s mistakes and the first thing you must do is what I’m going to show you now.

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Now, all Ruide controllers are supplied with a piece of free software called RDWorks, and that’s what I’m running here.

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There are other pieces of software which I shall talk about later,

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which are probably substantially better than RDWorks, but you have to pay for them.

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This is free and for free. It’s very good,

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but clunky. This software only runs on a Windows machine,

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whereas other software’s run on Linux, OS as well as Windows machines, and they’ve got many more features in them.

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But we’ll talk about them, a program called Lightburn. Oh, did I say that in a future session.

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Now, what Ruida supply on this machine is a digital controller.

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There are many other machines around which still use what I call old school type controllers, which are analog controllers.

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They do not have anywhere near the power and the flexibility of the digital controllers.

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Now Ruida

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are not the only people that make digital controllers, but most machines use Ruida controllers because they have become an industry standard.

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And as I mentioned just now, this software only runs on Ruida controllers.

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So if you have a different controller, it may look similar and it may perform many of the same features, but it won’t be exactly the same as this.

Transcript for Laser Cutting Machine Parameters and Loading Files (Cont…)

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The other software that I just mentioned in passing, Lightburn. Is an amazing piece of work, because not only does it run on Windows, Linux and OS,

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it encompasses many of the other digital controllers that are out there.

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So you can have a standard software that runs all these other digital controllers.

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Lightburn is an amazing piece of software, which I said we will get onto at a later date.

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But for the time being, I’m going to show you the software that you are probably supplied with, with your machine for free.

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I would suggest, in all seriousness, that you use RDWwork’s if it comes with,

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if it comes with your machine and you use it for two or three months to find out just how it works,

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and then you can download the free version of Lightburn and you’ll see that there’s a completely different universe out there to be experienced.

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But become familiar with your machine with this software.

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Now, the first thing that I’m going to show you is how to protect your software, not against thieves, but for yourself.

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Now up in the top left hand corner here, we shall find file, and down here we shall find vendor settings.

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So we click on vendor settings. And the first thing it says is, give me a password.

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They didn’t supply you with a password when they supplied this software, but to get into your machine, you need to put in the password.

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RD8888. One, two, three, four.

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So I’ve got a USB male connector into the laptop and we have a USB male connector into the machine.

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And there are two ports on this machine. One of them will say USB or Udisk and the other one will probably say something like disk interface.

Transcript for Laser Cutting Machine Parameters and Loading Files (Cont…)

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At this stage the are the RD8888 only sends us to this page in RDWorks.

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It’s not talking to the machine at the moment at all. There are several pages that we can scan through.

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But before you go anywhere else, what we need to do is to read.

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We press the read button and what that’s going to do, it’s going to make this piece of software connect to the machine.

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And there we go. You can see that it’s reading in the data and what it’s done.

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It’s put the data from the machine into this panel here.

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So it tells me all the factors that the manufacturer has put into these panels.

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So you’ll have some you have some parameters up here to do with the motor control.

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And then you’ll have this thing here, called Breadth. Well, look, this machine is a 600 wide machine.

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As I told you before, the machine already knows the size of the table.

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What it doesn’t know is where it starts. So here’s the six hundred width of my table there.

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And then we’ve got these things here. Look, Jump-Off speed. Well, basically, that’s the speed at which the head will start taking off at.

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It can immediately start offf at a speed of 50 millimeters a second and then we’ve got a maximum speed of a thousand millimeters a second.

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And then we’ve got acceleration factors here. And then down at the bottom, we’ve got something called keying.

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Well, basically, remember the arrow keys that we showed you last time where you can move ahead around?

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Well, that’s what these do.

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It tells you the jump off speed for keying is only one millimeter a second in this instance, but the acceleration is four thousand five hundred.

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OK, so you’ve got the opportunity to change the settings and then we’ve got things like the laser.

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Now, the laser is quite important because, you know, in this instance, you can choose glass tube.

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Or there’s an RF combination there that you can use.

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Well, we’re not using RF on this machine, we’re using glass tube. So there are some settings in here which I’m not going to go through all these settings.

Transcript for Laser Cutting Machine Parameters and Loading Files (Cont…)

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And then you’ve got others and soft p.l.c., which is all to do with the red lights, the lamps that you can have on the side of a production machine.

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So we’ve got all our settings in there. We can check the X, Y, Z.

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This is one of the pre-features I was telling you about, which is the distance calibration.

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The distance calibration allows you to set 20 millimeters real dimension to be 20 millimeters of stepper motor movement.

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Most of the settings in here are maximum allowable values.

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Like you used to say, to your kids, you will be home by 12 o’clock. You set a deadline, you set a limit.

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Well, that’s what these are. These are limits.

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They’re not necessarily the values that the machine runs at, but these are limits in some instances that are preset for you.

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So you can’t exceed safe limits. If we change any of these, we will go back and we will write them back to the machine.

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OK, so now we’ve sent those values back to the machine down our USB cable.

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That doesn’t make your parameter safe. Remember what we’ve just done? We’ve pulled the parameters up from the machine into this panel.

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Now, what we’ve got to do is save them into an external file. You can call it whatever you want.

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RussLB21 save parameter success.

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OK, just remember where you’ve saved them to, of course, because one of these days you might need to come back in and open them.

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It will open them up into here and then you’ll have to write them back to the machine.

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And then all of a sudden the parameters that you’ve screwed up will be corrected again to those original ones that were supplied with the machine.

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Now, as well as the vendor parameters, up here we’ve got some tabs. And one of those tabs is user.

Transcript for Laser Cutting Machine Parameters and Loading Files (Cont…)

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And we’ve got a whole load of parameters in here which are user parameters.

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So, for instance, we saw that the maximum speed of X was a thousand millimeters a second.

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So let’s have a look in here and see what the maximum speed is.

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We’ve got cut parameters, idle speed. Six hundred these settings in here, it says six hundred.

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Do I believe that? Let’s read. Now it says five hundred, right, those settings in there with some sort of default.

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They weren’t the settings, that are the machine settings. So the machine also stores your user settings as well.

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And so you will read your user settings into here and then you will also save them.

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OK, if you want to modify them, you write them back to the machine.

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But at this point, the one thing that you must do is save them.

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And again, you’ll save them to an external file, save parameter success.

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That’s the very first message I want to impart to you, the importance of saving the machine parameters that are supplied with your machine.

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Remember the menu hiding behind the Z/U button?

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There are two things in here. One is called set default parameters.

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Set factory parameters.

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I would advise you to stay away from those settings because there is no escape from those, once you go into them, you automatically select them.

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There isn’t a choice to choose or escape. These parameters here are not quite as dangerous as I’m implying.

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They do require a password. I’m not going to tell you the password yet.

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I’ve got no intention in this series to show you how to use these pieces of software.

Transcript for Laser Cutting Machine Parameters and Loading Files (Cont…)

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I’m going to jump in and out of them and I’m going to do certain things to show you and illustrate what can be done.

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But you’re going to have to learn this software on your own.

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There is my series, RDWorks Learning Lab on YouTube, which takes you through all the basic commands associated within the first few lessons.

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Now, all I’m going to do at the moment is do something very simple. I’m going to draw a square.

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OK, so I’ve got myself a 25 millimeter square there. Now I’m going to come up here to the tab

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called work. As I said, I’m not trying to teach you how to use this software.

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I’m just going to show you one or two key things. Now, at the moment, we’re using this black layer and if we double check on it, click, click.

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We’ve got a black layer there. We’ve got a question.

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Is output: Yes. And there’s another option in there.

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No, we choose Yes. we want the program to go from here down to the machine.

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OK, we do want an output for that square because we want to do something with it.

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We may possibly have another shape there as well that is on a different layer that we do not want to cut or engrave.

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And we can suppress that with the answer: No. Speed?

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Well we are we going to make this layer, a cut layer? So 20 millimeters a second.

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Yeah. From experience that’s going to do me. If Blowing.

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Well, the choices there are, yes or no, to be honest,

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it will make no difference to most of your machines because you won’t have the opportunity for being able to turn the air assist on or off,

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which is basically what that is. Programable air assist. That’s an advanced feature, which we’ll talk about later.

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Processing mode. Well, at the moment it’s set to something called dot, I don’t want dot.

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I don’t want to scan. I want to cut. So I’m going to choose cut mode.

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Now, automatically, it changes some of the parameters over here

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if you note. Let’s just go back to scan mode and you’ll see we get a completely different set of parameters over here.

Transcript for Laser Cutting Machine Parameters and Loading Files (Cont…)

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I’ve only got one laser tube in this machine, so forget about the rest.

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Even if I put ticks beside all of these, it isn’t going to make any difference because I’ve only got one tube.

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These numbers here. You must ignore my numbers because I know what I’m doing.

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I’m going to put these at ninety five percent power.

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You may well have to use your machine at something like a maximum of maybe 65 or 70 percent power, sometimes 80 percent power.

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But there is a limit beyond which you cannot go, which I described to you in the laser tube video.

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If you drive the tube with too much current, you will quickly destroy its capability.

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You need to find out what the maximum current rating for your tube that the manufacturer allows

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and then what the maximum percent power is that matches that current and don’t tick default.

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I’ll mention default at a later stage. And in general for cutting.

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Keep the numbers exactly the same. There are special situations where you can modify those numbers, but that’s rather advanced stuff.

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Anything down here don’t put anything in. Laser through mode: would generally be ticked, untick it, you don’t need it.

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So this power here will not have any effect if that power is not ticked.

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OK, leave these open and closed delays set to zero so you don’t do anything down here and you don’t tick anything down there.

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So now we can say, OK, there are four ways that you can communicate with your machine and tell it that you want to cut that square.

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I’m going to show you three of them because I don’t have the fourth one connected up.

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The first one is to press this start button here. RDWorks

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software will convert your square into a special machine code instructions and it will

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send it down the USB line to the machine into a piece of temporary memory in the machine.

Transcript for Laser Cutting Machine Parameters and Loading Files (Cont…)

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And then it will automatically run the square and cut it.

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Now very crudely, I’m just putting little pulses down and I’m changing the position of the head here to get the smallest dot that I can find,

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it’s not far off the correct dimension there. Now this is not the way you’d normally set the focus.

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But I’m doing this very quickly and crudely just to show you what’s possible. There we go.

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Now, this is really not the right nozzle that I’ve got on here for doing the job.

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And you’ll hear that I’ve got some air coming out of the nozzle as well.

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Air assist. Again, I’m not going to explain all this technical detail to you at the moment.

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Those are for later sessions. All I’m trying to do at the moment is to show you how we get a program down to the machine.

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Now, remember, one other thing that comes back to the science that we spoke about in the first sessions.

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This stuff reflects. So when I burn through this, I’m going to be firing the laser energy right through the slot at this table.

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This table is only about 60 or 70 percent reflective. So it’s going to bounce off this very surface and it’s going to scatter very slightly.

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Now, at the moment, I’ve got 10 millimeter spacers under here so that when the light does reflect,

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it is going to probably mark the back of the product. It just depends how I’ve got the power set.

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If I’ve got the power set just right, then I will just make a cut without too much damage at the back.

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If I’ve got too much power, the power will stay on,

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it will reflect and it will damage the back of the cut. So we shall see what happens when I do this.

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So the first thing I’m going to do on the keyboard is an origin button, and the origin basically means I’m going to start the

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head there. And that’s where my shape is going to start.

Transcript for Laser Cutting Machine Parameters and Loading Files (Cont…)

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When we look at our program square, you’ll notice that there is a little green dot in the top right hand corner.

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That is where the program is going to start from.

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I’m not going to put extraction on at the moment. We’re going to produce some smoke. So I’m going to press the start button on the screen here.

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OK, look, it’s a cut. It’s cut it out wonderfully well and surprisingly enough, it’s not too bad on the back.

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That’s one way that I can get the program to cut. You can see in here it says temp file.

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Well, that’s because I’ve loaded that program into a temporary file.

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It hasn’t given it a name, but it has temporarily stored that program in the machine in a piece of temporary memory.

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So if I want to rerun that again, I can move the head across to there.

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With the keypad, with the Arrow keys, I can press origin and you hear it go pip and what that’s done, that’s now made that point

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there, the start of a new program. I don’t have to load that same program again,

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if I’m not making any changes. I can just do a repeat by pressing the start button here.

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And if I press that start button as opposed to the one on the PC screen.

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It’ll run exactly the same program again. There’s another way that you can make that program appear on your machine to be cut, and that is to download it.

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Now, there was what we’re going to do,

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we’re going to use our USB cable and we’re going to physically download the program onto the machine, not into temporary memory,

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but into permanent memory this time so that you can use the program again and again and again.

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As I’ve just produced there, a one inch, one inch file for cutting to test the cutting speed.

Transcript for Laser Cutting Machine Parameters and Loading Files (Cont…)

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Those are the sorts of things that you need to have in your machine,

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little test programs that when you want to find the focus or when you want to find a cutting speed for a material,

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you can just call up your one inch square and you can fiddle with the parameters on the machine itself,

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which I’ll show you how to do in a moment. We’ll go to here this time, I’m going to download it.

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Now it’s going to ask me to give it a name. This is a very old operating system.

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You can only use eight characters, 25TSQ Test Square.

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OK, download success. We press the file button.

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And now we shall find a list of programs that are in the machine. Program number 42 says 25TSQ.

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And we now select that one, then we’ll press the enter key, there it is, look you can see the square is drawn on there. Now that we’ve got into here.

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We’ve got something called frame button here. And I’ll show you what frame button does.

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I’ll move the head across, press the origin button and out there, press the frame button.

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And there we go, it’s just drawing a quick frame for me to show me where the program will cut.

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So I’ll now press the start button on the keypad here.

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And it’s now running the same program, but from memory, so I can choose any other program that I want, run it,

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and then I can come back to that and run it again. So I could always have that program in memory. When I look at these.

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They’re quite nice. Pale brown colour. On the back, not bad, I think I could run that a bit faster. Back to the keyboard, we can press enter.

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Bear in mind we’ve got the program there already, Enter, enter.

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And now what we get the opportunity to do, is to play with the parameters.

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The power is what it is. Ninety five percent. But what I can do is run the job a little bit faster.

Transcript for Laser Cutting Machine Parameters and Loading Files (Cont…)

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So if I press the Z/U bitton,

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it’ll bring me down to that blue pane there where it says 20 millimeters a second and I can change that to 30 millimeters a second, and press enter, enter.

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I’m now ready to run. So I’ve now modified that program to 30 millimeters a second, and that’s what it will be whenever I run it.

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It won’t go back to the 20 that I originally sent it down as, it’s now a modified program.

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So Origin, checkewith the frame. There we go.

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And now we’re running it at 30 millimeters a second. And it still works.

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You can see that the one on the right is actually lighter and cleaner than the one on the left,

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and that’s just one of the properties of cutting at the right speed. You get less burning on the edge of the cut.

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We’ve now found two ways to cut that program.

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We can either run it from the PC or we can run it from a program in the machine.

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Now, there is a third way. I’m going to disconnect the PC.

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I’m now going to show you the third way because in the winter months, this is an unheated workshop and I don’t want to stand in here at

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freezing temperatures, programing bits and pieces. So I take my laptop into the warm office and I program my job in the warm office.

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I do not have an Internet connection between here and the machine.

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You could set up an ethernet connection between the two, but I don’t have that.

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So what I can do, I can load my program, instead of via this cable,

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I can load it onto a memory stick. So down at the bottom right hand corner.

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I’ve got the option here to save Ufile.

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Instead of sending the machine code program down the wire to the machine,

Transcript for Laser Cutting Machine Parameters and Loading Files (Cont…)

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it’s going to send a machine code program onto a memory stick for me. Save to Ufile.

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What do you want to call it? I’m going to save it to the right place, which is a memory stick, which is there.

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And then I’m going to save this as 25SQX21to make it different than the file that I’ve already downloaded.

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Now when you’ve downloaded it onto the memory stick, it comes up with this gobbledygook.

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Who knows what it says. Have a nice day in Chinese I suppose. Anyway, when you see this it basically means you’ve saved the file to your memory stick.

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We’ve got two USB ports, this one is the USB wire connection to the PC and this one on top here,

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which normally says Udisk disk or USB is the connection into which you put your memory stick.

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We now come to the machine again and we can press file button. And what we should find in here is read memory file No.

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Second one down is Udisk. So that’s what we want. We want it, because that’s what we’ve plugged in, Udisk.collected you disk.

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So we’ll move to Udisk, and press, enter and then we get some more choices.

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Read the Udisk file. Well, we’ve got to know what we want to load, so we better read the file. Enter.

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And now it tells me all the files that are on that Udisk and the one that we just put on there was no four, 25SQX21.

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So we’ll move down to that one and then we get the chance to copy to memory.

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Enter. Copy, successful. Enter.

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Escape. And now when I go looking for the file on here

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Number forty three is 25SQX21, the number of times I’ve run it is zero,

Transcript for Laser Cutting Machine Parameters and Loading Files (Cont…)

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so it’s highlighted there so I can press enter and there we go.

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Now we’re when I check the parameters this time, remember,

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I’ve downloaded the incorrect parameters off of the original PC program. So Enter, Enter and we shall find that

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they still say twenty.

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OK, so I want to change that so I can now press the Z/U button to move the panel down and we’ll change that this time to forty.

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See, I’m extremely daring aren’t I? 40 mm a second, Enter.

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Enter. Now, we’re going to run that program at 40 millimeters a second. So we’ll move the head to a new position, there. We’ll press the origin button.

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And we just run it from the start key. Forty millimeters a second looked as though it didn’t quite work, it did more or less just look not quite.

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So what we can do now, remember, is to edit the program. Enter, Enter.

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And we change that to 35. Z/U

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Take it down to three, at thirty five millimeters a second, Enter, Enter. Let’s move the head. Press the origin button, press the start button.

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Well, it didn’t drop out, but look, it’s actually cut and there we go.

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That’s a wonderfully clean cut. Now, I’m just showing you a little bit of a trick there as to how I find the best cutting speed.

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Maximum power, and then gradually increase the speed until it doesn’t fall out and then back off a little bit.

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And once you get a nice clean cut like that, well, I mustn’t teach you too many tricks, otherwise you become expert too quickly.

Transcript for Laser Cutting Machine Parameters and Loading Files (Cont…)

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Now, I want to do one more thing. Remember, we started off at 20 millimeters a second and we’ve now found that we could run at 35.

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I’m going to change the speed to 10 millimeters a second, 10 millimeters a second.

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Very, very slow, excessively slow for this particular material.

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See, the mess that I’m making on the surface and all the smoke coming out underneath.

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The burning around the edge. Remember, that is the reflection off of the metal surface underneath, look how bad that is.

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That’s the difference between right and wrong cutting. Now, I can reduce that reflection quite considerably by raising the work away from this table.

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So if I put it 25 or 30 millimeters above the table, I wouldn’t get anywhere near as much damage as that.

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I might get a little bit, but not as much.

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With that very simple display of cutting and how we download programs in different ways onto this machine. I think we’ll conclude this session.

Transcript for Laser Cutting Machine Parameters and Loading Files

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Last updated August 26, 2021

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