Laser cutting has grown to be the best modern cutting method, due to its high precision and cost-effectiveness. Compared to conventional cutting methods, laser cutting can achieve very accurate cutting even to the smallest detail, no matter how intricate the design. For instance, if some complex designs like lace patterns, smooth curves or very sharp angles may be problematic for most conventional cutting tools, with laser cutting you will obtain results to match the highest standards.
However, as great as laser sheets of plywood cutting may be, without proper training it will not provide such great results. Indeed, laser cutters can provide incredible precision, but if they are not used properly, all can be ruined. Your whole project could result in fires or cause several other issues, so before you start working with a laser cutter make sure you know how to use it. First of all, you cannot use a laser cutter on any type of material, for instance many types of plastic emit very toxic fumes in contact with laser. And before engaging in your ambitious project, remember to always, always wear protective clothing. Gloves and eye protection are not negotiable when you operate a laser cutter.
So to get everything straight, before you start working make sure you have everything you need: the laser cutter, the proper material to be cut, protective equipment (gloves, eye protection, heavy clothing) and a computer drawing program (Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw or other) so you can make your design.
Using the computer drawing program, start your project by creating your design. Most laser cutters use Corel Draw software, so you should be able to find the right tool for the cutter you are using. Then, select the cutting lie width. Unless you have a specific width to respect, select it to 0.004 of an inch. According to the thickness and the hardness of the material to be cut, set the cutting speed, the cutting depth and the number of pulses per inch (PPI). These settings will also vary depending on the manufacturer or the model of laser cutter you are using, so check the manufacturer’s manual for more detailed instructions.
Also, before actually starting the laser cut, make sure the lens is clean. To check the lens, remove the three small screws that hold it. To clean it, use rubbing alcohol or cleaning fluid on a cotton swab. Clean it gently and do not use any abrasives, then reinstall the lens and check the instruction manual again so you can properly focus the machine. Once you turn the power on, give it a minute or so to allow the machine to fully boot up. Double check the settings you’ve made, then secure light materials to the cutting table, either with tape or other available means. Note that the materials must NOT move at all during the cutting process, or else you will not obtain a clean cut. Depending on the size and shape of the material to be cut, set the initial registration point so the machine can start the computer-guided laser cutting process.
To get the best results, take the time to properly prepare all details, and take into consideration all aspects. Read the instruction manual whenever you are uncertain, whether it’s about the numbers, settings or material compatibility. Use protective gear, be patient and pay special attention to detail, since they make all the difference. Good luck!