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Area 49

COVID-19 Changes for Fall 2020

Procedures for accessing trainings, room reservations, and machine reservations have changed for Fall 2020 due to Covid-19. Please check our Area 49 Access Document for details or email us at atkinstechsupport@uncc.edu.

Laser Cutter Info

Epilog Zing Laser CutterEpilog Zing Laser Cutter, 50 watt

​Cut Bed:

  • X axis: 24 inches
  • Y axis: 12 inches

Lanyard Color: Dark Blue

Location: Makerspace

Use Options: Training only

Cost: Free to use, but select materials are available for purchase, or you may provide your own.

General

The laser cutter uses a laser to cut and engrave all kinds of materials. This page shows how to prepare a file for cutting and engraving and how to use the laser cutter. Check out our Technology Instruction page for dates and times and to register.

Users may set their own jobs on the laser cutter after completing a training and signing the Laser Cutter Safety Agreement, but must schedule them ahead of time at groupstudy.uncc.edu. Any unscheduled jobs may be stopped and removed from the machine if someone else has scheduled that time. If the user does not check in within 15 minutes of the scheduled start time, the scheduled job will be automatically removed from the calendar. 

Safety

  • This machine uses a laser that can severely burn or blind anyone in its way. A reflection of the laser using a mirror is just as dangerous as the laser line in the machine. Do not look directly into the red dot pointer.
  • When the laser moves slower through an item, there is a higher likelihood of the item catching on fire. Before using the machine, locate the fire extinguisher and safety tools. 
  • Never run the laser cutter without an object in the cutting bed, as it can harm the machine.
  • Never cut or engrave any flammable materials or any materials that will give off toxic materials, such as PVC or vinyl.
  • Remain with the machine while it is in operation.
  • Fill out and post the Job Status Form on the laser cutter while using it and remove the job in a timely manner once it is complete.
  • Limit jobs to those that are for non-commercial purposes only.
  • Comply with all tutorial and operations instructions given by Makerspace staff.

Laser cutting and engraving your file

Preparing the File

  1. Open Adobe Illustrator and set the dimensions of the artboard using the dimensions of the physical piece you are placing in the laser cutter.

  2. Design the piece the way you plan for it to look on the material.

    • To insert an already-developed item

      • File > Open> select item > copy + paste on artboard.

    •  Make an object hollow for cutting

      • Select object > Image Trace > Expand > select Direct Selection arrow tool> click image > change inside color to transparent and outline color to black. This should look like an outline of your image.

    • Photo engraving

      • File > Open, select item > copy + paste it on artboard > Edit > Edit Colors > Convert to Grayscale (whether it already looks like grayscale or not)

    • Vector/Cutting

      • All cut lines should be black.

      • Change stroke value to.001 in or .072 pt for any lines that will be cut.

    • Raster/Engraving

      • Use only grayscale (black, gray, white)

      • Lighter in image = shallower engraving

      • Darker in image = deeper engravings

  3. Prepare cutting settings: File > Print > Choose printer > Epilog (IP address ending in .10) > Setup > Continue > Choose printer Epilog (IP address ending in .10) again > Preferences. The Laser Dashboard (blue Epilog settings box) should appear.

    • Choose the correct settings based on the Laser Dashboard Guide.

    • If your material is uniquely shaped, check the box for Center Engraving.

    • In the Illustrator dialog box, ensure that "Auto Rotate" is not checked.

  4. Click OK > Print. It will not send to the machine yet.

  5. A print preview should appear. The Media Size should now be the correct length and width. If it doesn't look right, click "Done," then go back into the settings and set everything again. Do not send the job to the laser cutter if it looks incorrect in the Print Preview. 

Machine Operation

  1. Turn on the laser cutter. The machine will beep once it is ready for use.

  2. Click Print on the computer. It is now sent to the machine. If the job doesn't show up on the machine, turn the machine off and on, then send the print job again.

    1. If an error box comes up saying that the job could not be sent to the printer, go to your Layers tab in Illustrator and click the lines for more options. Select either "Merge Selected" or "Flatten Artwork."

  3. Set the focus: Press the Focus button, place the material below the silver laser beam arm, flip the arm down onto the material. Raise or lower the laser bed until the arm just touches the material. Press Reset and place material in the upper left-hand corner of the machine.

  4. If your material is uniquely shaped and does not fit perfectly in the corner:

    • Place the material in your desired location

    • Press x/y off

    • Ensure the Pointer is on and manually move it to the center of your material.

    • Press Go to lock in this location. By pressing Go at this time will not signal the machine to start.

  5. Close the door.

  6. Turn on the Filtration unit. The normal blower speed is 80%, but materials such as leather and other smelly materials can be set to a lower speed.

  7. The laser cutter should display your file name. Press Go.

  8. Remove your materials after all movement has stopped. Close the door. Turn off both the filtration unit and the laser cutter. Turning off the machine will delete the job from the machine’s memory.

Laser Dashboard Guide

  • Piece Size: Measurements of the materials
  • Job Type: Raster = engraving, Vector = cutting, and Combined = both
  • Resolution, Frequency, Speed, Power: Refer to Suggested Material Settings.
  • DPI: A larger DPI will result in a longer job time. DPI is the amount of strokes per inch, therefore, 400 DPI is 400 strokes per inch.
  • Vector Sorting: Determines which items on the canvas will print first.
  • Center Engraving: Used only when you have an odd shaped item that cannot fit perfectly in the upper left corner of the machine.
  • Send to Laser: Ensure it’s checked. Sends it to machine, but doesn’t start the job.
  • Send to Manager: Ensure it’s checked. Sends it to Job manager.
  • Save the setting if you plan to use the same materials more than once.
  • Color Mapping
    • Change the color scale to RBG. Will tell the machine the exact depth you want based on the color.

Control Panel

  • Go: Starts or resumes jobControl Panel
  • Stop: Pauses the job
  • Reset: Stops the job and sends carriage back to home position.
  • Focus: Allows user to raise or lower bed using up and down arrows.
  • Job: Displays name of last jobs in memory. Use arrows to scroll through the list.
  • Pointer: Toggle switch for the Red Dot Pointer for gauging the start position. Does not fire laser.
  • X/Y Off: Disables X and Y motors to move the carriage by hand.
  • Do not adjust speed, power, or configuration. All settings are adjusted on the Laser Dashboard on the computer.

Suggested Materials Settings

  • Every type of material will react differently with the laser, even from one plastic to the next. Settings do not always have to be exact. While engraving acrylic at 35% speed and 75% speed will give you a very different result, the difference between 35% and 39% will be much more subtle and relies more on personal preferences.
  • Test your material. If you have a small area of the material you won’t be using, or an extra of the item, take advantage of this area to test out your settings by engraving a small square or cutting a small circle. You can fine tune your settings in these areas. You can also run only a part of a file, such as text, to ensure correct settings.
  • Similar materials use similar settings. For example, most anodized aluminums will react well with similar settings, as will most plastics.
  • When in doubt, start low: You can always re-run your job as long as you don’t move it in the machine.
  • Fabric: When engraving fabric, try changing the graphic to 80% gray and use the Jarvis dithering pattern for the best results. Every fabric you are cutting will need to have adjusted settings - find a small swatch of the fabric you can test first.

Suggested Materials Settings

Material

Action

DPI/Frequency

Speed %

Power %

Acrylic

Photo Engraving

500 DPI

90

25

Acrylic

Text/Clipart Engraving

400 DPI

90

40

Acrylic

Text/Clipart Engraving

500 DPI

90

30

Acrylic

Cutting 1/8" (3mm)

5000 Frequency

40

100

Acrylic

Cutting 1/4" (6mm)

5000 Frequency

25

100

 

Adjusting the standard focus distance so it is closer to the lens by about .030” (.762 mm) will produce better edge quality on 1/4” acrylic and thicker. Two passes may produce better results and allow for cutting through thicker materials. There are two types of acrylic: cast is better for engraving (creates a frosted look when engraved) and extruded acrylics are better for smooth-edged cutting.

Alumamark

Engraving

400 DPI

90

45

Alumamark

Engraving

500 DPI

90

40

Andonized Aluminum

Photo/Clipart

400 DPI

90

45

Andonized Aluminum

Photo/Clipart

500 DPI

90

35

Andonized Aluminum

Text

500 DPI

90

40

Carboard

Engraving

400 DPI

90

50

Cardboard (See below chart for info on foldable cardboard)

Cutting

500 Frequency

30

40

Cork

Engraving

400 DPI

90

25

Cork

Cutting

500 Frequency

60

30

Cotton

Engraving

250 DPI

90

20

Denim (See below chart for more info)

Engraving

250 DPI

90

25

Fleece

Engraving

200 SPI

90

20

Fleece

Cutting

2500 Frequency

40

10

Glass

Engraving

400 DPI

30

100

 

Change the graphic to 80% gray before engraving glass and using the Jarvis dithering pattern. Diffuse heat by covering glass with dish soap.

Leather

Photo Engraving

400 DPI

90

25

Leather

Text/Clipart Engraving

500 DPI

90

30

Leather

Cutting 1/8" (3mm)

500 Frequency

70

50

Mat Board

Engraving

400 DPI

90

50

Mat Board

Cutting

500 Frequency

30

40

 

Bottom-up engraving is suggested for mat board etching.

Marble

Photo Engraving

400 DPI

90

45

Marble

Text Engraving

500 DPI

90

55

 

Every marble is very different. Start low and increase the power with a second run if you haven’t used that marble before.

Painted Brass

Engraving

400 DPI

90

55

Painted Brass

Engraving

500 DPI

90

50

Plastics

Engraving

400 DPI

90

30

Plastic (2-layer Engravable)

Engraving

400 DPI

70

100

Plastic (2-layer Engravable)

Engraving

500 DPI

80

100

Plastic (2-layer Engravable)

Cutting 1/8" (3mm)

5000 Frequency

80

30

Rubber Stamps

Engraving

400 DPI

30

100

Rubber Stamps

Engraving

500 DPI

40

100

Rubber Stamps

Cutting

100 Frequency

20

100

Stainless Steel w/Cermark

Engraving

500 DPI

30

100

Twill

Cutting

2500 Frequency

60

20

Wood

Photo Engraving

500 DPI

85

100

Wood

Clipart/Text Engraving

400 DPI

70

100

Wood

Clipart/Text Engraving

500 DPI

80

100

Wood

Deep Engraving

500 DPI

40

100

Wood

Thin Veneer

500 Frequency

30

14

Wood

Cutting 1/8" (3mm)

500 Frequency

70

35

Wood

Cutting 1/4" (6mm)

500 Frequency

40

100

 

Multiple passes may allow cutting of thicker wood. Readjust the focus between passes down to the center point of the cut for best results.

 

Special Setting

Foldable Laser Cut Cardboard

  • In Adobe Illustrator, change the stroke value to .001 in or .072 pt for all lines in your design.

  • In the Laser Dashboard (blue Epilog settings box) use the following settings:
    Set to vector mode only. Set Frequency to 500, Power % to 30, and Speed % to 50

Engraving on Jeans

  • In Adobe Illustrator go to File > Open, select your item and copy and paste it onto the artboard. Select item and go to Edit > Edit Color > Convert to Grayscale.
  • In the Laser Dashboard (blue Epilog settings box) use the following settings:
    Set to raster mode only. Set DPI to 300, Power % to 25, Speed % to 90