Menu For The Concise RDWorks Learning Lab Series

In this new series of Laser Cutting and Engraving Tutorials, Russ has condensed his knowledge and experience from 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.

Russ Sadler - LaserUser Legend Tutorial on how to use a laser cutter
Russ Sadler – LaserUser Legend Tutorial on how to use a laser cutter

Session 00 – Introduction (2:40)

In this Session, Russ gives his reasons for starting this new series and his plans for how it will proceed.

CRDWLL 00 Introduction
CRDWLL 00 Introduction

Session 01 – Buying a Machine (30:16)

In this Session, Russ goes through the decisions you need to consider when buying a new laser machine and the pitfalls to watch out for. This session on it’s own could save you hundreds, or even thousands of Dollars / Pounds / Euros and his plans for how it will proceed.


Session 02 – Basic Science Concepts (19:59)

In this Session, Russ describes the key scientific principles behind the workings of a laser cutting and engraving machine. These principles will help you to understand why the laser beam reacts with materials in the way it does.


Session 03 – Understanding The Laser Beam (14:51)

In this Session, Russ takes the theory learned in Session 2 and puts it into practice with some demonstrations of how the laser beam reacts with materials.


Session 04 – The Laser Tube (29:04)

In this session, Russ describes the laser tube in detail and explains where and how the laser beam is generated. Find out the truth regarding tube life and the risk of purchasing B-Grade tubes.


Session 05 – The HV Power Supply (24:03)

In this session of these Laser Cutting and engraving Tutorials, Russ talks about the high voltage power supply, how it drives the laser tube and its wiring connections to the laser machine. Find out the pitfalls of purchasing a B-Grade high voltage power supply. gives his reasons for starting this new series and his plans for how it will proceed.

Release Date: 31st August 2021


Session 06 – The Controller In Brief (8:26)

In this session, Russ briefly discusses the workings of the controller and goes through the key aspects of a typical laser machine circuit diagram.

Release Date: 3rd September 2021


Session 07 – Laser Beam Safety (32:49)

In this session, Russ explains the real life risks associated with using a laser machine, to assist you in determining your own laser machine risk analysis. 

Release Date: 7th September 2021


Session 08 – Stepper Motors & Toothed Belts (30:40)

In this session, Russ describes in detail the laser machine drive system, covering stepper motors, stepper drivers and toothed belts. He also goes on to describe the drawbacks and benefits associated with the drive systems used in the majority of laser machines.

Release Date: 10th September 2021


Session 09 – Mirrors (22:48)

In this session, Russ discusses his 6 years of practical experience with mirrors as well as his numerous experiments with differing mirror types. He also advises on the best value for money mirror for both performance and durability.

Release Date: 14th September 2021


Session 10 – Lenses Part 1 (25:15)

In this session, Russ takes a real life look at the workings of lenses used in laser cutting and engraving machines, and explains how lens theory does not fully account for how lenses actually work in practice.

Release Date: 30th September 2021


Welcome to Module 2 of the new Concise RDWorks Learning Lab Series with Russ Sadler. Module 2 of these Laser Cutting and engraving Tutorials will build on the information learned in Module 1 and will provide practical machine set-up sessions as well as more detailed subject material.  

Session 11 – The Tube Cooling System (22:54)

In this session, Russ describes how the the tube cooling system works, how to winterize your laser machine and some do’s and don’ts regarding the liquid coolant.

Release Date: 5th October 2021


Session 12 – Let’s Switch The Machine On (20:43)

In this Session, Russ describes the two laser machines he owns, one which has a Glass CO2 laser tube and the other which has an RF metal tube. He then goes on to describe in detail the start-up process common to most Chinese CO2 laser machines. The Ruida Controller 6442 LED’s are explained and the start-up sequence shown. Some troubleshooting hints and tips.

Release Date: 8th October 2021


Session 13 – Machine Parameters and Loading Files (29:06)

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


Session 14 –  Laser Beam Power Versus Intensity (28:56)

In this Session, Russ explains some of the reasons a laser beam is capable of interacting with materials the way it does. He also discusses some of the key parameters and properties that are required in the laser beam. Why B-Grade tubes can be so very poor, even if they have high power outputs. Pre-ionisation zone discussed and how it can be used. Testing the profile of your laser beam.

Release Date: 15th October 2021


Session 15 –  Setting The Work Table Level (14:12)

In this Session of these Laser Cutting and engraving Tutorials, Russ shows us how to set the work table level with the laser nozzle and true to the bearing rails. Theory of focusing discussed. Screw thread maintenance.

Release Date: 22nd October 2021


Session 16 – Perfect Laser Beam Alignment (34:34)

In this Session, Russ looks at mirror alignment and the iteration method of beam alignment. Russ explains how and why you need to align the mirrors using this method and sorting out the 4th corner focus problem that affects some machines.

Release Date: 29th October 2021


Welcome to Module 3 of the new Concise RDWorks Learning Lab Series with Russ Sadler. Module 3 of these Laser Cutting and engraving Tutorials will build on the information learned in the previous modules and will be targeted on the differing types of laser engraving methods and the techniques needed to consistently achieve great engraving results.  


Session 17 –  Engraving – an Overview (36:31)

In this Session, Russ starts the “Doing Process” and starts us off with an overview of engraving. The 9 processes of laser engraving explained. Surface, Deep Cut, Relief, Line, 3D, Greyscale, Photo, Laser Origami & Lace Work. What materials can be engraved?

Release Date: 5th November 2021 (Bonfire Night in the UK)


Session 18 – Surface Engraving of Organic Materials (41:09)

In this Session, Russ gives an overview of how speed has a direct impact on the thickness and colour of the laser mark left on the surface of material. He then goes on to explain how engraving requires you to understand both the material and the lens you are working with. Unlike other materials, organics can provide a colour range when engraved at differing speeds, power and focal distance. Russ also explains Scanning reverse offset and how to set it up for your laser machine. .

Release Date: 12th November 2021


Session 19 – Incised Engraving and Air Flow Management (28:38)

In this Session, Russ will go into detail the process to achieve consistent Incised (deep) engraving for a variety of materials and the pitfalls to watch out for. He also explains the importance of ensuring good air flow management across the job surface.

Release Date: 19th November 2021


Session 20 – Relief Engraving and Air Assist (23:04)

In this Session, Russ carries on from the last session by showing us the stages he goes through for different materials to achieve consistent results for relief engraving. He also explains the importance of getting your air assist set up correctly.

Release Date: 26th November 2021


Session 21 – Line Drawing (31:23)

In this Session, Russ explains how to use your laser machine to get get good quality line drawings. He reveals his tricks and secrets to achieve good results. Line drawing is also known as vector drawing.

Release Date: 3rd December 2021


Session 22 – Essential Graphics (16:16)

In this Session, Russ goes through the basics of graphics as related to what you need to understand in order to get the best results from your laser machine. He explains what a bitmap is and how to ensure the bitmap parameters are optimised for use with a laser machine.

Release Date: 10th December 2021


Session 23 – 3D Engraving (30:02)

In this Session, Russ discuss the “black art” of 3D engraving that your laser machine can carry out on cuttable materials such as woods and plastics. While it’s not an easy topic, once you have set up the foundation work for your particular machine and graphics software, you will be well on the way to producing incredible 3D images.

Release Date: 17th December 2021


Session 24 – Grayscale/ Photo Engraving (33:43)

In this Session, Russ explains how he doesn’t really believe in laser grayscale photo engraving. However, some of the theory and practical aspects of achieving grayscale photo engraving will contribute towards what he considers to be proper photo engraving in the next video. Russ foes through the process to set up and run a grayscale photo engraving and explains why it is doomed to failure.

Release Date: 24th December 2021


Session 25 – Photo Replication – Introduction (30:03)

In this Session of these Laser Cutting and engraving Tutorials, Russ takes us to the top of the engraving mountain with the topic of photo replication. He explains the principles and theory behind historical printing technologies and how they transfer onto the laser engraving process. Russ also explains how cheap diode lasers and expensive RF laser systems cannot achieve photo replication and the tricks that are used by users of these systems to just get an “OK” engraving result.

Release Date: 31st December 2021

Session 26 – Photo Replication Part 1 – Making Dots (39:54)

In this Session, Russ continues the Photo Replication theme and explains how to make dots. Dot’s are the foundation for the whole Photo Replication process: One Pixel MUST equal one Dot. Here Russ goes through the process of how to determine your actual dot size and discusses the compound lens, a piece of kit he uses to achieve 0.1mm dots.

Release Date: 7th January 2022

Session 27 – Photo Replication Part 2 – Burning an Image (29:18)

In this Session, Russ continues the Photo Replication theme and explains how to burn the image based on the “One Pixel equals one dot” process. Reverse compensation settings are a vital component of this process and Russ explains what they are and how to set them up. He also introduces his home made A4 vacuum table for precise levelling of the work piece.

Release Date: 14th January 2022

Session 28 – Photo Replication with Other Materials (26:19)

In this Session, Russ continues the Photo Replication theme and explains how to great results on non-organic materials. This time it’s the turn of anodised aluminium, and Russ teaches us the particular characteristics of this material for laser engraving. Using his proven Photo Replication theme of “One Pixel equals one dot” he prints a superb rendition of the fox at 254DPI onto white anodised aluminium.

Release Date: 21st January 2022

Session 29 – Photo Replication on Ceramics (35:46)

In this Session, Russ continues the Photo Replication theme and explains how to get amazing results (the best yet) on ceramics. He explains the Nikki Norton process of engraving onto a painted tile with a low powered Blue Diode laser, delves into the underlying science and develops a short cut process for CO2 laser users. The results are outstanding!

Release Date: 28th January 2022

Session 30 – Optimising Engraving Cycle Times (26:18)

In this Session, Russ shows us how, with a few simple tweaks and a change of mindset regarding engraving. It’s possible to optimise the laser engraving process, shaving seconds and even minutes off typical engraving times.

Release Date: 4th February 2022

Welcome to Module 4 of the new Concise RDWorks Learning Lab Series with Russ Sadler. Module 4 of these Laser Cutting and engraving Tutorials will build on the information learned in the previous modules and will be targeted on the process of laser cutting. Russ will explain the science behind the laser cutting process and go on to demonstrate the techniques needed to consistently achieve great laser cutting results across a variety of materials.

Session 31 – Cutting: Where Do We Start? (36:22)

In this Session, Russ explains why the current optical lens theory does not apply to laser cutting and explains in detail how the laser actually interacts with materials. He then goes on to explain the importance of intensity within a laser beam and why it has such a huge impact on laser cutting performance. Find out if your laser beam is “BLUNT” or “SHARP”!

Release Date: 11th February 2022

Session 32 – Cutting: Science And Basic Rules. (35:14)

In this Session, Russ goes into detail regarding the effect the lens has on your laser cutting performance and highlights the fact that if you have a “blunt” laser beam profile you will get poor cutting results. Russ then goes through the significant lens testing project he carried out in 2021 and gives an overview of the results and what they mean in the real world.

Release Date: 18th February 2022

Session 33 – Cutting: Check Material Hazards (24:51)

In this Session, Russ explains the dangers of engraving a range of materials, especially plastics. The dangers include flammability, particulates and toxic fumes. Effective extraction is a must for all laser cutting and engraving activities. Just because you can laser cut a material, doesn’t mean you should.

Release Date: 25th February 2022

Session 34 – Let’s Get Cutting: Part 1 (33:32)

In this Session, Russ explains why there is no such thing as a set of generic laser cutting parameters for laser machines. Although it is possible to derive the cutting parameters for your specific machine. He also covers the parameters that are important for laser cutting performance.

Release Date: 4th March 2022

Session 35 – Let’s Get Cutting: Part 2 (38:04)

In this Session, Russ starts with the dangers associated with using honeycomb beds. He also discusses air flow management and the importance of speedy fume removal. Alternative bed solutions and stand-offs to aid in air flow management are demonstrated. Finally Russ gives examples of deriving cutting parameters for different materials.

Release Date: 11th March 2022

Session 36 – Cutting Thin Materials (28:58)

In this Session, Russ progresses this laser cutting module with the cutting of thin materials such as paper and card. He explains the laser power characterisation of a laser tube and explains the theory and importance of the pre-ionisation zone. Using the visual characteristics of the pink plasma glow of the tube, he explains how to determine the pre-ionisation zone for your own laser tube. Russ then goes on to demonstrate some gift card cutting and card model projects.

Release Date: 18th March 2022

Session 37 – Poor Laser Cutting Is Rarely Beam Alignment (30:29)

In this Session, Russ discusses one of the key reasons why your laser beam cutting performance is poor and it has nothing to do with mirrors, lenses or beam alignment! This video could save you hours of ineffective set up and hundreds of £ $ €’s in laser processing time.

Release Date: 25th March 2022

Session 38 How to Combine Cutting and Engraving (30:29)

In this Session, Russ discusses how you can combine laser cutting and engraving in one process / job. Even though the optimum parameters for each process are diametrically opposed.

Release Date: 1st April 2022

Session 39 How Laser Cutting Happens (23:23)

In this Session, Russ discusses how laser cutting happens. He explains the mechanics of laser cutting and the importance of beam intensity. He also discusses how the laser beam interacts with materials over time and how the cut develops.

Release Date: 8th April 2022

Session 40 Season Finale: Here’s What YOU Can Do Now! (63:48)

In this Session, Russ gives a brief overview of the reasoning behind the previous 39 sessions in this video series. Russ’s plan wasn’t to teach you how to use your laser machine, but to understand how and why it works the way it does. Then you can take this knowledge and start your own laser machine projects. Russ starts the process off by showing a number of projects he has worked on, from simple to innovative.

Release Date: 15th April 2022

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Last updated August 26, 2021

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