Trotec lASER cUTTER Tutorial

⚠️Training Zone Ahead⚠️

To safely use the following equipment, you must receive training by lab64 Staff prior to individual use. To get trained, please attend one of our Office Hours sessions↗. Estimated Length of Training: 25 minutes.

Introduction

Workflow Overview

In order to cut using the laser cutter, one needs to: 

If you are coming in for the first time, we recommend following the Inkscape preprocessing section to prepare your file before arriving.

Compatible Materials

Be sure that your material is in the compatibility list below before printing. If it is not, please talk to Jeff or another Lab Assistant before continuing. By clicking on the table↗, you will also find a list of the color codes Trotec reads, as well as a running list of cut values needed to cut materials. To add or correct this list, please reach out to us on Slack or in person.

Trotec Laser Cutter

Starting The Machine

Orient yourself 

Turn on the chiller

The chiller is located in a separate room, just in front of the entrance. Flip the switch on the chiller to the vertical position. The chiller will take a few seconds to activate. Wait 10 min after you turn on the chiller before cutting. 

Turn on the laser cutter 

Turn the key, and wait for the laser cutter to initialize. The laser cutter bed will move downwards to its lowest possible position and the laser cutter head will move to the back left corner. Two beeps will sound when the laser cutter is done initializing. 

❗The Laser Won't Turn on #1

If the laser cutter is not turning on, check that the emergency button is not pressed down. A green line should be visible under the red button if this is the case. 

❗The Laser Won't Turn on # 2

If the laser cutter is still not turning on, try moving the switch on the right side of the laser cutter to the horizontal position, then back to its original vertical position. You must complete this step to turn the laser cutter back on after the emergency stop has been pressed.

overview of the laser cutter interface

⚠️caution: moving the laser cutter head 

The laser cutter has no safety measures in place to prevent you from crashing the honeycomb into the laser cutter head. Therefore, use caution when moving the laser bed up and down. The most common scenarios that can lead to accidentally crashing the honeycomb into the laser cutter head include: 

calibrate the height of the laser cutter bed

⚠️Make a test cut!

The following steps will show you how to prepare your file in Inkscape and cut your job on the laser cutter. However, we strongly encourage that you make a test cut first.  Draw a small shape in Inkscape and follow the steps below to cut your test part on your material. If the laser does not cut your part properly, see the troubleshooting section. Doing a test cut first can save you time and prevent you from wasting material. 

Preparing your Cut file with Inkscape 

Setting Canvas Size

stroke properties

Stroke Width: Hairline

Stroke Color: Trotec Approved Color Code

The trotec takes in 16 specific color values listed in the table. Be sure that you are using the exact color codes, with 100% opacity.

Laser Cutter Settings

Note the flat color option selected, as well as it being in RGB mode with 100% opacity.

from inkscape to job control 

Print Your document

In Inkscape, select File -> Print:

Size Settings 

Process Settings

Select the JC button once you are done selecting your preferences, and press "Print" to send your job to the laser cutter software, Job Control. 

To continue onto Job Control.

Operating Job Control 

Connect to the Laser cutter

Click the USB-icon (bottom right of the screen) to connect the computer to the laser cutter (as shown on the bottom of the image to the right). A blue cross will appear on the computer's honeycomb structure representing the location of the laser in the actual laser cutter. 

See troubleshooting section if you're having trouble with this step. 

Drag your job onto the virtual honeycomb

After selecting File-> Print in Inkscape, your file should appear in the Job Control job queue (top right of the screen, under "Jobname"). Drag your job from the queue onto the honeycomb structure. 

Often, your job will appear as a gray box on the honeycomb. In order to see your design, click the eye icon as shown below. 

Select your job location

Please do this step carefully to ensure that the laser will only cut your material and not the honeycomb. 

Select the cut/engrave settings 

In order to select the cut/engrave settings, double click anywhere on the honeycomb structure (but don't double click on your job itself) to open the material settings menu. Notice that the menu has options to select a material type on the left and a material thickness on the top. Ignore these options. Only modify the "Process", "Power", "Speed", and "PPI/Hz" options for each color. 

Important: Take the time to find the right settings for your cut. Using too high of power settings can damage the lenses and make your cuts less accurate. 


Recommended settings to get started

Remember to make a test cut to make sure the recommended settings work for your material!

Check the cut time 

Click "update" in the calculation box to check how long the laser cutter will spend on each color. This is an essential step! If the times don't look right, then the laser cutter is not going to do what you expect. 

See the troubleshooting section (below) for more info. 

Press start to cut 

Once you've completed all of the steps above and are ready to cut, press the start button (on the bottom right of the screen, as shown in the image to the side). Stay near the laser until it has completely finished cutting/ engraving. 

Remove your part 

Wait 15 seconds before opening the door of the laser cutter after your cut has finished. This will prevent the air quality in room 004 from deteriorating. 

Pick up all pieces left on top of the honeycomb. 

Turn off the laser cutter 

Move the bed of the laser cutter downwards, away from the laser cutter head. Then turn off the laser cutter by turning the key you used to turn on the laser cutter. 

Turn oFF the chiller 

Wait 10 min after your last cut. Then turn off the chiller. 

troubleshooting 

1) The laser does not cut all the way through your material

2) Calculated times the laser will spend on each color seem wrong 

3) Laser cutter is cutting lines twice 

4) Job Control error: "Cannot load your job" 

5) Design looks cropped/ incomplete in Job Control 

4) Job Control Error: Cannot connect to the engraver 

building resources

EMERGENCY CONTACTS

In case of injury:

Having other issues not addressed here? Please send us an email (lab64ca@ee.stanford.edu) so we can help you and improve this page.