Laser Cutting


Boss Laser LS-1630

We have a Boss Laser LS-1630. It is a 105-watt CO2 laser cutter/engraver with a 16" x 30" bed, pass-through slots, and an 8" Z-axis height. We have a Boss Mod, their rotary tool for engraving on curved surfaces (pint glasses, water bottles, rolling pins, etc).

Documentation

Reservations

Members have the ability to reserve the laser through the Reservations page in your account dashboard (non-members will get a 403 Permissions error at that URL). We ask that members abide by the following guidelines for laser reservations:

  • A member may reserve up to 3 hours at a time, twice a week, for a total of 6 hours a week. This is not enforced by our reservation system, but we ask you to please abide.
  • If the machine is not currently reserved, laser-certified members may use it at will.
  • Once you have used your 6 hours in a week, you should not start long laser jobs. If another member requests access you should let them have the laser within 30 minutes of when they ask for it.
  • If you make a reservation and know you wonโ€™t keep it, it's your responsibility to the community to remove your reservation from the system. Donโ€™t tie up the laser for a reservation that you wonโ€™t use.
  • Note that if your job starts running long, you should adjust the end time of your reservation.
  • The reservation system is how we communicate; please use it. If someone abuses the reservation system, they could be denied use of the machine.

Material Safety

Some materials cannot be used in the laser because they make a mess or are a fire hazard, while others will literally create poisonous gasses that will destroy the machine and the lungs of anyone standing around it.

Just because a material isn't forbidden here, does not mean it is safe to use in the laser! On the flip side, just because a material isn't listed here as laser-safe, doesn't mean it's dangerous. When it doubt, do some research!

NEVER CUT THESE MATERIALS

This list tries to be inclusive, but is by no means exhaustive. As other dangerous materials are brought to our attention, they will be listed here. As always, if you are ever in doubt as to whether a given material can be safely lasered, do some research!

Warning

Because many plastics are dangerous to cut, it is important to know what kind you are planning to use. Makezine has a nifty guide to Identifying Unknown Plastics.

MaterialDANGER!Cause/Consequence
PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride)/vinyl/pleather/artificial leatherEmits chlorine gas when cut!Don't ever cut this material as it will ruin the optics, causes the metal of the machine to corrode as chlorine is released and ruins the motion control system.
Thick ( >1mm ) Polycarbonate/LexanCuts very poorly, discolors, catches firePolycarbonate is often found as flat, sheet material. The window of the laser cutter is made of Polycarbonate because ''polycarbonate strongly absorbs infrared radiation!'' This is the frequency of light the laser cutter uses to cut materials, so it is very ineffective at cutting polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is a poor choice for laser cutting. It creates long stringy clouds of soot that float up, ruin the optics and mess up the machine.
ABSMelts / CyanideABS does not cut well in a laser cutter. It tends to melt rather than vaporize, and has a higher chance of catching on fire and leaving behind melted gooey deposits on the vector cutting grid. It also does not engrave well (again, tends to melt). Cutting ABS plastic emits hydrogen cyanide, which is unsafe at any concentration.
HDPE/milk bottle plasticCatches fire and meltsIt melts. It gets gooey. It catches fire. Don't use it.
PolyStyrene FoamCatches fireIt catches fire quickly, burns rapidly, it melts, and only thin pieces cut. This is the #1 material that causes laser fires!!!
PolyPropylene FoamCatches fireLike PolyStyrene, it melts, catches fire, and the melted drops continue to burn and turn into rock-hard drips and pebbles.
Epoxyburn / smokeEpoxy is an aliphatic resin, strongly cross-linked carbon chains. A CO2 laser can't cut it, and the resulting burned mess creates toxic fumes ( like cyanide! ). Items coated in Epoxy, or cast Epoxy resins must not be used in the laser cutter. ( see Fiberglass )
FiberglassEmits fumesIt's a mix of two materials that cant' be cut. Glass (etch, no cut) and epoxy resin (fumes)
Coated Carbon FiberEmits noxious fumesA mix of two materials. Thin carbon fiber mat can be cut, with some fraying - but not when coated.
Any foodstuff ( such as meat, seaweed 'nori' sheets, cookie dough, bread, tortillas... )The laser is not designed to cut food, and people cut things that create poisonous/noxious substances such as wood smoke and acrylic smoke.If you want to cut foodstuffs, consider sponsoring a food-only laser cutter for the space that is kept as clean as a commercial kitchen would require.
Material with Sticky Glue BackingCoats lens, cracks lensThere are many '''normally''' laserable items such as thin wood laminates that you can purchase that become un-cuttable when the manufacturer adds a layer of peel-off glue on the bottom to attach them to surfaces. Examples include cork tiles, thin wood laminate, acrylic tiles, and paper stickers. Never cut these materials in the laser cutter if they have this backing. The glue will vaporize forming a coating on the lens that will coat it, cloud it, heat it, and then potentially crack the lens. The glue residue is worse than resin, and can't be removed without risking damage to the lens ... requiring a lens replacement.

Laser-safe materials

Here is a list of materials that are generally recognized as safe for use inside our laser.

MaterialNotes (AKA)
Plastics
Acrylic(Plexiglas, Lucite, PMMA)
Delrin(POM, Acetal)
Kapton Tape(Polyimide)
Mylar(Polyester)
Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol(PETG)
Two-Toned AcrylicTwo-layer colored acrylic, top layer is a different color than the base color. Used for signs, plaques, and instrumentation panels.
Foams
DepronOften used for RC planes
Ethylene Vinyl Acetate(EVA)
Gator FoamHard shell of gator foam does well but, the foam core gets burned and eaten away.
Textiles & Others
ClothFelt, hemp, cotton
Leather/SuedeMust be actual, genuine leather. Faux leathers contain PVC, which is a no go.
PaperCardstock, cardboard
PlywoodHobby/craft grade preferred. Low-quality or construction-grade plywood contains a lot of glue and doesn't cut well.
RubberThese can only be used if they do not contain chlorine!
Teflon(PTFE, Polytetrafluoroethylene)
WoodsMDF, balsam, birch, poplar, red oak, cherry, holly, etc.

Material Settings

These settings were taken directly from Boss Laser.

Cut Settings

MaterialPower (%)Speed (mm/s)Interval (mm)Thickness
Acrylic7515N/A1/4"
Balsa Wood5525N/A1/8"
Bass Wood5525N/A1/8"
Birch Wood7015N/A1/4"
Birch Plywood7515N/A1/4"
Cardboard6015N/A1/4"
Leather7512N/A1/8"
Paper1520N/A1/100"
Rubber7512N/A1/8"
Foam5525N/A1/4"

Engrave Settings

MaterialPower (%)Speed (mm/s)Interval (mm)Thickness
Acrylic20350.065Any
Anodized Aluminum20325.065Any
Balsa Wood20350.065Any
Bass Wood25350.065Any
Birch Wood25350.065Any
Birch Plywood25350.065Any
Cardboard20350.065Any
Ceramic40350.065Any
Glass25325.065Any
Granite25275.065Any
Leather18350.065Any
Powder-coated Metal20325.065Any
Mirror โ€“ Back-side20325.065Any
Rowmark20350.065Any
Rubber20350.065Any

Project Resources

Generators

Maintenance

Maintenance procedures can be found towards the back of the Operators Manual.

Boss Laser also has a video demonstrating common maintenance procedures: LS & HP Machine Maintenance.

Continual

It's up to everyone using the laser to help keep it clean! These are things to do before, during, and after using the laser cutter:

  • Empty the lower scrap collection tray.
  • Clean the laser head nozzle using all-purpose cleaner and a paper towel.

Weekly

  • Clean the focal lens with a lens wipe, inspect for damage.
  • Clean mirrors #2 and #3 with a lens wipe.
    • Mirror #2 is located at the end of the gantry rail, on the left-hand side.
    • Mirror #3 is located in the laser head, directly above the focal lens.

Monthly

  • Clean and re-grease linear rails using either white litheum grease or the Mobilux EP 1 grease in the grease gun.
  • Check water level in the chiller. If needed, top-off with distilled water.

Quarterly

  • Clean mirror #1 and output coupler lens (beam combiner) with lens wipe.
    • Located in the back of the machine, at the end of the laser tube, on the left-hand side.
  • Clean and re-grease gantry rails and worm rods
    • Clean with isopropyl alcohol and remove as much grease as possible from the rails
    • Inject fresh grease into linear bearings using grease gun. (Mobilux EP 1)
  • Flush, clean, and refill water chiller.
    1. Drain water chiller and refill with water and 20% bleach. Run chiller for at least 30 minutes.
    2. Disconnect chiller inlet tube and place tube end into empty bucket.
    3. Turn on chiller to cycle water/bleach into bucket. Turn off when alarm sounds.
    4. Fill chiller with distilled water and cycle into bucket. Turn off when alarm sounds.
    5. Replace chiller inlet tube and fill chiller with fresh distilled water.
  • Clean the honeycomb bed using Zep Industrial Purple Degreaser.

Laser Cutting was last modified by Derek Payton on Feb. 24, 2024, 6:18 p.m.