Potential New laser cutter!

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James Bruton

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Dec 7, 2022, 9:59:21 AM12/7/22
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We've been offered a new(er) laser cutter by Southampton Uni for free!  This is good because as we know the current Epilog machine is dated and will eventually wear out.

The one they have going spare is an HPC Laser LS1290: https://hpclaser.co.uk/co2-laser-cutters/ls1290/
Data sheet: https://hpclaser.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/LS1290-PRO-Data-Sheet-2021e.pdf
It's the smaller one, 80W, but the dimensions are: 1780 long x 1350 wide x 1220 high (1200x900 cutting area). Has a chiller but no extractor. It comes into piece for transport and so it can go through a single door apparently.

They are standardising on equipment which is why it's going, looks like it was manufactured in 2017, but in any case the tube replacement is much cheaper and easier than the Epilog we have because the parts are commonly available. It is currently in good working order.

We'd probably need to turn it around 90' from where the current laser is and probably get rid of the shelves. Extraction needs investigating but it can probably go into the existing sucker.

We'll probably need to spend money on Lightburn software (about £100) and probably a hire van to go and get it TBC (probably another £100).

I also posted about this in #laser-cutter on Slack. We'll need significant input from members to get it in and working.


pbg...@googlemail.com

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Dec 7, 2022, 11:07:41 AM12/7/22
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With Mr Laser showing age and starting to need repair (louder buzzing) and the new issue with squealing on some moves I think its a good idea to at least try the new(to us) laser and it would be cheaper to repair if it needs anything (parts are far more available then epilog)

Holly N

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Dec 9, 2022, 3:16:33 PM12/9/22
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Given how long it usually takes us to get new kit up and running, are we prepared to have potentially several months without a laser at all? Will everyone need retraining?
I can't see us having space to run two at the same time. Even if we got rid of the vending machine which is just taking up room.

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soma haranyi

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Dec 9, 2022, 3:16:38 PM12/9/22
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Good to see it has a Ruida Controller. Those are pretty standard nowadays. And the fact it works with LightBurn is also a great plus. Have plenty of experience with both the controller and LightBurn as well, if any help is needed setting it up/writing guides. The original RDWorks software that comes with the controllers is extremely buggy, and a chore to use, so upgrading to LightBurn is almost necessary.

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James Bruton

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Dec 9, 2022, 3:19:58 PM12/9/22
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It will need significant input from members to get it up and running - the laser trainers will need to be part of that so working through what needs to be changed in the induction process will go hand in hand with setting it up.  It's fundamentally the same technology, so lots of the current induction will still be very relevant. Design can still take place in Inkscape or any other software, so I think the only major change will be the way that the output file is sent to the machine.

Ben Jacobs-Howe

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Dec 9, 2022, 4:54:24 PM12/9/22
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I understand your concern. I think that there are other factors to consider though.

The current laser will break down at some point and the consensus seems that it is likely to do so sooner rather than later. If this happens and we don't take the uni laser we'll have a situation where we have no working laser and a big repair bill, with an unknown downtime.

You are right that swapping to this one needs to be planned to minimise downtime and we cant run both. However we will be in a better situation if we get this one and store it temporarily if we have to, while a transition plan is developed.

As always the trustees will facilitate as much as we can but we need members to step up to help plan the transition.

Until we see it working next week we won't know how much more training will be needed if any. It is likely that some training will be needed as the software process appears to be different. We can't plan who will deliver any training until we know what the differences are.

There are a few unknowns but I believe that getting it is a sensible decision. However, it would be foolish to take Mr Laser offline without a plan and target timeframe for the transition completion. The laser is usually busy in the lead up to Christmas, so we need to get it right, or wait until January. That might mean sacrificing some space in the main room temporarily.

Ben Carrington

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Dec 9, 2022, 5:50:40 PM12/9/22
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Instead of a full training, perhaps existing laser operators can watch a video to go over how to use? I don't mind recording one. New users will still require training 

Ed Chaney

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Dec 10, 2022, 4:04:22 AM12/10/22
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Training video is a great idea to speed up transition. I think the opportunity is too good to miss.

If there is a requirement to move this before Christmas and we don't want any disruption then maybe ask if the landlord has any empty units we can put it in till January for a modest storage fee? Any other off-site storage would mean double transport costs. Otherwise could disassemble one of the big tables and store in main room?

Ed


Holly N

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Dec 13, 2022, 4:50:33 AM12/13/22
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At no point have I opposed this plan. I'm trying to be helpful

On Fri, 9 Dec 2022, 21:54 Ben Jacobs-Howe, <benjac...@gmail.com> wrote:

Bracken Dawson

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Dec 13, 2022, 3:41:51 PM12/13/22
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From what I've been told about the state of tube replacements for the Epilog it seems to me that it would be wise to take this replacement.

Two questions I have, how much do we expect the tube supply for this unit to remain available in the long term? When would we be expected to collect it?

James Bruton

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Dec 14, 2022, 4:48:19 AM12/14/22
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My understanding is that the tube is a 'generic tube' that is used in a lot of lasers. The model itself is still manufactured and available to buy new:  https://hpclaser.co.uk/co2-laser-cutters/ls1290/

Myself and Ben Jacobs are visiting the Uni tomorrow to check out the laser. It's big but apparently it comes into pieces so it'll go though a single door - we need to investigate how exactly we'll move it because that will impact timescales. Hopefully we can move it in the new year but we'll find out more details tomorrow - the Uni seem pretty keen for us to have it.

James Bruton

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Dec 14, 2022, 7:09:20 AM12/14/22
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We formed a 'swapping the laser' committee at the member's meeting last night. Members are:

James Bruton
Ben Jacobs
Morgan SM
Ian Shatwell (who is a Doctor of Lasers)

This committee will make an initial assessment of the new laser and the overall process for logistics. Other members of the laser training team will definitely need to provide input and be involved in any new processes.

We'll get a proposal written up with the outline plan on which will be shared with members. Having a quick measure up in the space yesterday it appears we can just about fit both lasers in the 'laser area' (with the removal of the racking, which can be reinstated afterwards), so we'll be able to get the new one tested in place before we touch the existing Epilog. More details on that to follow after we've actually seen the new laser tomorrow.

James Bruton

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Dec 15, 2022, 2:24:04 PM12/15/22
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Here's my working document so far: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1mm2UXWRqS8RrpLVfysvIGjVlA2KK-abYOBZgzcBawpc/edit?usp=share_link

Additionally Holly and Soma have joined the committee. If any committee members want access to edit then request it through Google docs.

James Bruton

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Jan 3, 2023, 9:19:57 AM1/3/23
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We've had a quote from a company called MoveHire of £300 inc VAT to move the laser. They drive/provide a 7.5T truck with a tail lift and thee people to assist. I'm waiting for them to tell me how deep the tail lift is to see if we can move the laser in one piece on its own wheels.

Alternatively we could hire a Luton van with a tail lift for around £110, but the tail lift is smaller and so is the back door, so it's going to make lifting it and rolling it in sketchy. 

Ian S has built a dolly that will allow us to move the laser in two pieces to go through single doors which we need to do to get it into the space in any case, and possibly up the tail lift and into the vehicle.

My personal favourite is to use the bigger vehicle and hired help because we can't risk it rolling/falling off the tail lift etc. 

This is on the agenda for the members' meeting on the 10th Jan, but we could do with some quick decisions because the Uni want it gone soon. We told them we'd try to take it in the first two weeks of Jan.

dodge567

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Jan 3, 2023, 9:58:27 AM1/3/23
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It might better for MoveHire to do, that is if they have fully insured cover if any accidents or damaged to laser or personnel.

James Bruton

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Jan 10, 2023, 3:43:27 PM1/10/23
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We're collecting the new Laser Cutter next Wednesday 18th, using MoveHire.

The next thing will be the setup plan, we'll get it back to the space in one piece first though. The old laser will remain in place as it is until we're totally ready.

James Bruton

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Jan 18, 2023, 7:59:28 AM1/18/23
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The new laser was collected and delivered to the space today. Thanks for Ben C and Ian S for their help with the move. I've added pictures here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1OA1-wFL5QQ7W2a2zKj5G5XMQH3AZVM5W?usp=share_link and also in #laser-cutter on Slack.

The new laser will need some setup and testing before we think about swapping it out with the old one, so the existing Epilog is still in place and functioning.

Trustees have agreed that Ian S, Ian J and Soma can become laser trainers/superusers once they have reviewed our current induction material and the new laser is ready. All have expressed an interest in getting involved with the new machine. If any existing laser trainers or laser operators want to be involved in the setup and testing of the machine then please join the conversation in  #laser-cutter on Slack. I'll post regular updates here as we progress things.

All existing laser operators and trainers will get the info/induction they need to use the new machine. We have the 'HPC Lasercut' software along with the license dongle which was originally provided with the machine: https://hpclaser.co.uk/lasercut5-3-software/ - most of the processes are the same with the exception of using different software to feed the file to the machine.

James Bruton

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Jan 25, 2023, 6:17:20 AM1/25/23
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Thanks to everyone who was involved in looking at the new HPC laser last night. Summary is as follows:

The laser works ok!
It engraves ok despite the higher power tube - it appears the controller has better control over it than we imagined.
The chiller works.
The HPC Lasercut software works, but the calibration for scale needs looking at.
There is some wobble in the output so that needs to be investigated - it may have just been moving too fast.
The extractor has been cleaned (thanks Ben C), we are making some 3D printed hose adapters which should be ready for Hack the Space Day this weekend. At that point we should be able to do some proper cuts.

I also posted this in #laser-cutter on Slack.


James Bruton

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Jan 29, 2023, 11:43:57 AM1/29/23
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Laser tasks that happened at Hack the Space day this weekend:

-The water cooling/chiller is confirmed working, new lid has been made to replace the cracked one.
-3D printed hose adapters have been made so 100mm hose can be used to join the laser to the new extractor and vent outside.
-Air assist was fitted.-The software/scaling issues have been sorted out and it all looks like it's working ok.
-Discussion about the rotary tool which should be easy enough to retrofit.
-The machine was cleaned externally as well as the motion rails and some other internals.

pbg...@googlemail.com

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Apr 8, 2023, 3:00:11 PM4/8/23
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Since the last post here,

Controller was replaced with a Ruida RDC6432 which enables us to use Lightburn now. 
Air assist and extractor automatically turned on/off by controller. 
Rotary axis stepper added, and setup to work when rotary loom connected. 

An updated training guide/operator manual is being written and will be trialled on Tuseday to make sure everything is covered before it's added to wiki. 

With all the above complete and after the updated guide is sent out with a refresher video for those that want it, we can begin planning the change over.
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