Number 03 – RDWorks Learning Lab 005 – Cutting first program

The Top Ten RDWorks Learning Lab Videos

These are the top ten RDWorks Learning Lab Videos ranked by average number of views per month. In this Video Russ Sadler demonstrates RDWorks Cutting Your First Program.


  • Look at different plastics you can and cannot cut
  • Hammer test to identify safe ones
  • Places to go to find out about material hazards
  • How to edit parameters on the Laser machine
  • How to run your first program
RDWorks Cutting Your First Program
RDWorks Cutting Your First Program
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RDWorks Cutting Your First Program Transcript

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RDWorks Cutting Your First Program Transcript

0:00 welcome again to RDWorks Learning

0:01 Lab and today we’re going to be down in

0:04 the workshop you’ve loaded your program

0:07 in now but you want to cut something

0:09 what are you going to cut well some

0:13 materials you can cut lots of materials

0:16 will cut some materials you shouldn’t

0:19 cut because they produce dangerous fumes

0:21 or they will produce a horrible

0:23 sticky residue in your laser machine so there

0:32 are lots of there’s lots of information

0:34 out there on the internet about cutting

0:36 these materials I can’t go into it here

0:39 because it’s far too complicated but

0:41 things like printed circuit board stay

0:45 away from it this floor tile which has

0:48 got PVC in it anything with vinyl or PVC

0:51 don’t go anywhere near it it produces

0:54 deadly fumes and you don’t want to cut

0:56 it polycarbonate acrylic is good

1:02 cardboard and MDF well yeah produce lots

1:07 of films and it will produce smelly

1:08 smelly fumes that will last a long while

1:11 inside your laser machine you may or may not

1:13 want to cut those yeah it cuts

1:15 reasonably well ptg mmm go and do your

1:20 own research so basically you need to be

1:24 sure that you know what you’re cutting

1:25 because some things or they may look the

1:29 same but they’re not the same and I’m

1:31 now going to give you a simple example

1:33 of that now we have here on the floor

1:35 five pieces of clear thin material

1:40 they’re all different materials so how

1:43 do we tell them apart

1:44 some are better for laser cutting than

1:46 others well this one here I know is

1:49 polycarbonate yeah you can cut it it’s

1:51 not advisable to cut anything over a

1:54 thin film they use this stuff for bus

2:01 shelters and riot shields and you can

RDWorks Cutting Your First Program Transcript (Cont…)

2:05 see why it’s extremely strong and

2:07 durable now this material here is a

2:10 slightly thicker material

2:11 it’s something called a copolyester it’s

2:14 commonly known as PE TG and it’s the

2:17 sort of thing that’s used in fizzy pop

2:20 bottle it can soften nice and easily and

2:21 it can be blow molded into bottles as

2:27 you can see that again is pretty tough

2:29 and it has to be if it’s going to be

2:31 used in fizzy pop bottles now this next

2:34 piece of material here is again PE TG

2:37 but it’s thinner exactly the same

2:44 properties it doesn’t smash it doesn’t

2:47 crack now what about this material here

2:51 the fact that that smash is so easily

2:53 tells me it is cast acrylic that’s a

2:57 nice safe material to cut and finally if

3:01 I tap it gently you’ll see that it does

3:04 mark but then it breaks quite easily so

3:09 this is still acrylic but it’s

3:12 manufactured in a different way the

3:14 first one was cast acrylic this one is

3:17 extruded acrylic it’s slightly tougher

3:20 and it’s got more flex to it now it

3:22 might seem a fairly crude test but it

3:25 tells you very quickly what materials

3:27 you’re working with now there are a few

3:29 good websites around this one in

3:31 particular which gives a good 6 income

3:34 resource of things that you need to be

3:36 careful of with materials for example as

3:39 a heading here which says never cut

3:40 these materials and then you’ve got

3:42 another section here which says cutting

3:44 cutting but with cautions and etching

3:48 again with cautions so this website is

3:52 well worth a visit and you can study it

3:55 at length right let’s have a little bit

3:58 of a look at the machine itself and see

RDWorks Cutting Your First Program Transcript (Cont…)

4:01 how we can now run this test I’ve now

4:07 got a piece of clear acrylic here and

4:10 I’m going to probably run this program

4:13 twice so what I’m going to do is with my

4:15 knife I’m going to put a score at roster

4:19 and I’m going to remove a plastic film

4:24 from one side and we’ll use that for the

4:29 first test right although we’ve got our

4:34 file in memory it’s not exactly ready to

4:38 run yet so if we press file again which

4:42 will find that it’s probably sitting

4:44 here and it’s now available to us here

4:47 if we press ENTER again it now appears

4:53 on here we’ve got our two layer

4:56 parameters shown here if we press ENTER

5:01 again we bring the cursor across to

5:07 these two layer parameters where we can

5:10 change we can choose for example between

5:13 either of these two layers to edit to

5:16 the layer so we press ENTER to edit the

5:19 layer and here the layer is available

5:22 for us to enter now we’ve got minimum

5:25 power one minimum power – we know that 2

5:28 is not available to us so we’re only

5:30 going to mess around with minimum power

5:32 1 and maximum power 1 and to get to

5:35 these you don’t use the down arrows you

5:38 use the zu key so we’re going to move

5:41 from at the moment if you take a look up

5:43 here we’ve got the layer color active

5:46 and if we change that we can go to black

5:49 or red so now we can come down with the

5:54 ZU key to the first option and then if

6:00 we press the ZU again we then get the

RDWorks Cutting Your First Program Transcript (Cont…)

6:02 opportunity to change these if we wish

6:05 and we can do that with the arrow keys

6:07 change the numbers and then we can just

6:10 select every one of these windows with

6:14 the Z u key and when we finished we just

6:17 press Enter set up success enter don’t

6:23 escape

6:25 so we know do file again and here’s our

6:31 file that we’re going to run now one

6:33 thing I like to do before a start is to

6:36 do what they call a track so we’ll come

6:40 down to track and I’ll press enter in a

6:46 minute but I’ll show you what will

6:49 happen on the laser machine now bear in mind

6:53 I’ve got nothing on no laser

6:55 nothing at all all I’ve got is the

6:57 machine power on at the moment so we can

7:00 press enter hmm so that’s a big waste of

7:10 material we can either move the material

7:13 to suit where the laser is moving and

7:16 that may not always be possible but

7:18 let’s stay with that simple option at

7:20 this point in time track enter again

7:28 and it does stop at the top left hand

7:31 corner so we can in fact move that down

7:36 to about there and we’re now ready to

7:41 run our program accept the fact we

7:43 haven’t got the Machine switched on so

7:45 let’s go through that routine you know

7:47 first of all switching on the water pump

7:50 lots of air going through the laser we

7:54 wait for the air bubbles to clear and

7:58 there we go we can hear that they’re

7:59 virtually cleared now will now turn the

RDWorks Cutting Your First Program Transcript (Cont…)

8:02 lace on I shall now turn the extractor

8:10 fan on

8:16 and on my machine here I’ve got control

8:21 of the air pressure that flows through

8:23 the head here the air assist so I’m

8:26 going to turn the air assist on

8:29 pressure gauge

8:32 my compressor you may be a turn-on in

8:34 the back

8:37 I’ve got something like about maybe half

8:39 a psi of pressure in there

8:46 so we’re all ready to run now

8:49 we just come down to

8:55 and we’ll move this up to run and then I

8:59 should just press Enter

9:02 right here we go in

9:19 I’m gonna press pause for a second

9:22 now the reason I’ve moved the camera is

9:24 I want you to look just here

9:27 yeah there’s like a white halo down

9:30 there now that’s the acrylic when the

9:33 when the laser beam hits the acrylic it

9:35 boils off like Steam and this is like a

9:38 recon den site that’s sitting down the

9:41 side here it’s a powdery condensate I

9:43 will now turn off the air

9:50 so I’ll press the pause star

9:55 now you see we’re producing a lot more

9:56 films

10:01 but you’ll notice that we’re not

RDWorks Cutting Your First Program Transcript (Cont…)

10:03 producing

10:24 now we can see here two things first of

10:26 all when I turned the air off all of a

10:30 sudden it changed its characteristic

10:33 look Eternia powdery

10:36 residue on the surface

10:39 but

10:41 it reeked and enters on the surface and

10:43 makes a bit of a mess so it’s a

10:46 trade-off and the other thing that we

10:49 found is that we haven’t got enough

10:50 power here to cut through these items

10:54 so we need to go and modify the power or

10:58 decrease the speed which is probably the

11:01 sensible thing to do

11:04 and will come into the menu here and

11:08 we’ll press Enter

11:11 and the one that we want to change is

11:14 the cut speed which is the black one

11:17 so we press Enter

11:20 and at the moment we’ve got that running

11:21 at 15 millimetres a second I think we’ll

11:26 drop that down so we need to come down

11:28 with ZU and we need to reduce that

11:30 speed to maybe maybe we’ll take it down

11:33 to ten so we’ll move this left hand

11:36 arrow key and it’s gone under the one

11:39 will move it with the right hand arrow

11:42 key and it’s gone under the five now we

11:45 can reduce the five

11:48 ten there we go and now we can just

11:51 press ENTER, err we can now just press

11:53 ENTER I think and we should have done

11:54 all the modifications we don’t need to

11:56 change anything else

11:59 setup success okay so we’re now ready to

RDWorks Cutting Your First Program Transcript (Cont…)

12:04 file

12:08 oops

12:11 run I should just press these press the

12:14 enter button in a second when I get you

12:16 back on

12:22 and I think this time what we’ll do

12:26 would turn this round

12:29 and we’ll have a go at cutting through

12:31 the protective film

12:39 and I will turn the air on again

12:41 the air asist because I don’t want to

12:43 damage my lens

12:44 what they’re passing through the most

13:14 so it still hasn’t dropped out because

13:16 we haven’t got enough power there or

13:17 this protective film on the surface here

13:19 is absorbing

13:22 more of the engine I expect so let’s

13:25 take the film off with the front and the

13:27 back run it again the one thing I didn’t

13:30 check was the focus

13:33 it does look at the focuses and that may

13:36 well be the cause of the problem there

13:37 we go that’s the correct focus now

13:45 that’s a good reason why you should set

13:47 your focus correctly and as our end

13:49 result we’ve got a lovely crystal clear

13:51 edge the surface is covered in this

13:57 debris which will just wash off to be

14:01 honest but there’s our first test piece

RDWorks Cutting Your First Program Transcript (Cont…)

14:03 with a few mistakes that I’ve made

14:04 hopefully you won’t step into the same

14:07 problems

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