Laser Cutter

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Laser Cutter
Equipment Information
Status Working, Occasionally Crashing
Manufacturer LY / China!
Model 6040
Firmware LAOS
Materials Ply, Acrylic, etc (Not metal)
Usable Area 600x400mm cut, 650x500 bed
Hackspace Information
Induction Required Yes
Induction Information Here
Card RFID Enabled Yes
Owner Hackspace

See Also

The Laser Cutter Manual is a quick refresher for inducted members on how to use the laser cutter.

Berlin FabLab have some fantastic instructions for using VisiCut available here

SVGNest is an online tool for nesting SVG files using space efficiently.


In December 2014 we purchased an A2 laser cutter from China and a LAOS controller board v0.5 to upgrade it. The laser was delivered in January 2015 and is now fully operational. Occasional improvements are made to it to improve its performance as we learn more about how to configure it.

After the upgrade the laser is controlled with Visicut. The configuration for Visicut can be automatically installed (as of Mid Feb 2015) by simply selecting Leeds Hackspace from the list of laser cutters on first installation. An additional element using Visicam to work with Visicut has also been added.

An induction on using the laser cutter is required before use by a designated Hackspace inductor. Without an induction, your Hackspace card will not allow you to use the machine. For brief reference there is a simple Laser Cutter Manual to be used as a reminder.

Suggested Cutting Settings

There is a piece of arcylic on the side panel of the materials storage shelving to the right of the laser cutter, with some suggested cut settings. If you find a combination that works well add it to the list.

Currently 87% power, and 15 - 20 mm/s seems to work well for 3mm ply and acrylic sheets.

Please ensure that you test any and all settings before committing to a large job.

Suggested Etch Settings

Etching pulses the laser in order to etch into surface, because the beam is narrow the machine has to make multiple passes to construct your etch and so can take a long time. Currently etching only works unidirectionally bidirectional etching will result in squished output.

Material Etch Type Power Speed Notes
Macbook Solid Etch 60 100 Power 100 gives "feelable" finish, 60 seems nice.

Usage tariff

Usage of the laser cutter costs £1 per 10 minutes, with a £1 minimum charge. This is to cover the cost of replacing the laser tube, which has a limited lifespan.

Please note: you're charged for the amount of time that your card is inserted into the machine.

Post-move modifications

Visicut works exactly as it did before the Hackspace moved to Sheepscar House, but you will need to make one change, as detailed below.

  • Open Visicut.
  • Click Edit -> Settings -> Manage Lasercutters
  • Select "Leeds LAOS" from the list.
  • Click the cog icon.
  • In the Settings section, change the value of "hostname" from "laser.hackspace" to "".
  • Click Save
  • Click Save once more

Capabilities and Dimensions

The 6040 in the name is a reference to the size of the cutting bed - the maximum cut size is 600 x 400mm, bed size is a bit bigger, around 645 x 500mm.

It is a 60w Laser. The focal length from the centre of the lens to the centre of the cutting piece should be 50.8mm

There are limits to how thick it can cut in one pass, but the laser should cut:

  • Acrylic sheet
  • Laser Plywood
  • MDF
  • Paper
  • Card (with the exception of corrugated card)

You will NOT cut:

  • Standard plywood (carcinogenic fumes (want cancer? Ask Andy about it))
  • Vinyl (toxic/corrosive fumes)
  • Lexan (different toxic fumes)
  • Corrugated card (explosive fire risk)
  • Food (it smells horrible and gunges up the laser)

You will NOT lick the laser cutter, even when inducted.

"Etch"-able with a mask on material (covered in induction):

  • Metal
  • Glass[1]
  • Ceramics

All of the above need the fact that they are reflective masked first or you will damage the laser.

Anything not mentioned above, ask a Laser-inducted director and do not be surprised/upset when they say "hell no!"

A useful guide as to whether they will say yes/no:


  • After use
    • Turn off the laser using the red rocker switch on the control panel, note that the water cooler and extraction fan will continue to operate for some time to help cool the system down, and will shut off automatically.
    • Vacuum out any laser crud that's on/under the bed.
    • Ensure you have left the laser clean and tidy.
    • Clear your scrap.
      • Don't leave things by the side of the laser!
      • Obvious rubbish goes in the bin. Plywood and acrylic go in general waste (not recyclable). Card and paper can be recycled.
      • Break down bigger pieces into something useful.
      • Take the remains home or donate to scrap laser storage.
    • Remember to take out your RFID card! also remove your USB stick if you used one.
    • Remember to pay for laser time and materials Payments go in the tin on the small shelf to the right of the laser.
  • Periodic
    • Check coolant levels, top up with distilled water if necessary.
    • Check vent tube for any escaped laser crud.
    • Clean optics. [please ask on the mailing list if you think this needs doing]

Operational/Installation Maintenance

  • Laser is mounted on a trolley with the right hand wheels sat on leveling blocks - to extract it from its current position, it can be wheeled out after removing the leveling blocks (or move it gently sideways to get it off the blocks) take great care that the tube enclosure which is hidden between the shelves does not bang into anything.
  • RFID access - Operational, requires Marvin integration
  • Motor Control - There is potentially an operational problem with printing circular complex objects (cogs)

Risk assessment for use of Laser Cutter.


  • 1) Fire under normal cutting.
  • 2) Abnormal fire in use.
  • 3) Fume inhalation.
  • 4) Trapping fingers in lid.
  • 5) Laser burns
  • 6) Damage to eyes caused by laser
  • 7) Electric shock from equipment

Persons at risk.

  • Operator.
  • Persons nearby.

Initial assessment of risk.

Hazard identified Severity Probability Risk Factor
Fire under normal cutting 1 2 2
Abnormal fire in use 5 1 5
Fume inhalation 5 2 10
Trapping fingers in lid 2 3 6
Laser burns 2 1 2
Damage to eyes caused by laser 3 3 9
Electric shock from equipment 4 1 4

Control measures.

  • Users will be required to attend induction training to learn how to use the tool safely.
  • Use the handle of the lid to open and close the lid.
  • Do not look directly at the laser whilst in use.
  • Stay with the laser cutter for the duration of use
  • Fumes are ventilated outside workshop.

Final assessment of risk

Hazard identified Severity Probability Risk Factor
Fire under normal cutting 1 2 2
Abnormal fire in use 5 1 5
Fume inhalation 5 1 5
Trapping fingers in lid 2 1 2
Laser burns 2 1 2
Damage to eyes caused by laser 3 1 3
Electric shock from equipment 4 1 4

Points system

Hazard severity Points Rating Definition
Nil 1 Very minor injury, bruise, graze, no risk of disease.
Slight 2 Minor injury, which would allow the individual to continue work after first aid treatment on site or at a local surgery. The duration of the stoppage or treatment is such that the normal flow of work is not seriously interrupted.
Moderate 3 Temporary disability causing injury or disease capable of keeping an individual off work for three days or more and reportable under RIDDOR
High 4 Causing death, serious injury or permanent disability to an individual.
Very high 5 Causing multiple deaths and widespread destruction eg. fire, building collapse.

Hazard likelihood Points Rating Definition
Remote possibility 1 There is really no risk present. Only under freak conditions could there be any possibility of an accident or illness. All reasonable precautions have been taken - This should be the normal state of the workplace.
Unlikely 2 This incident or illness might occur but the probability is low and the risk minimal.
Possible 3 The accident may occur if additional factors precipitate it, but it is unlikely to happen without them.
Highly likely 4 Will happen more often than not. Additional factors could precipitate an incident but it is still likely to happen without this additional factor.
Inevitable 5 If the work continues as it is, there is almost 100% certainty that an accident will happen, for example:

A broken stair or broken rung on a ladder Bare, exposed electrical conductors Unstable stacks of heavy boxes

Risk Rating Score Definition Action
1 to 4 Low No action required
5 to 9 Moderate Reduce risks if reasonably practicable
10 to 15 High Risk Priority action to be undertaken
16 to 25 Unacceptable Action must be taken IMMEDIATELY