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From Crate to Cut | Installing a Laser Cutter.

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Step 3: Installing The Cutter

Picture of Installing The Cutter
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For the Laser Cutter to run safely the cutter needs pressurised air, circulated coolant, and sufficient ventilation.

Luckily the Laser Cutter comes with all three, but they need to be installed before the cutter can be used.

Cooling & Pressurised Air

The laser is cooled by circulating water through the glass laser tube. The Laser Cutter has a flow detector whereby if there is no water flow the laser will not operate. The supplied water pump is designed for immersion in a water reservoir. In this case I have picked a 25 litre bin as my reservoir.

I will be using the heavy duty trolley that I used to move the Laser Cutter as a sub-assembly for the cooling system and air supply.

Step 1 | The bin needs to be well supported on the trolly. To help reduce vibrations, and noise, I will be resting the bin on a section of foam sheet. The foam sheet was used to pack the Laser Cutter for transport. I used some scrap wood as bracing for the foam padding.

Step 2 | The Air pump is mounted on two rubber brackets. Taking measurements from the brackets, and the pump, I have built up supports to mount the pump. The pump is bolted on using some of the bolts used to hold the crate together.

Step 3 | A feed pipe for the Laser cutter connects to the water pump. There is an adapter to do this but it needs sealing to make sure there is no complications with the water flow. They supply a tube of rubber sealant with the Laser Cutter. You'll have to supply your own tie-wraps though.

Step 4 | The return feed from the Laser Cutter will need a support. The last thing you'll want is for the pipe to fall free and then have water pumped all over the floor. I have modified an old wire coat-hanger. Luckily I had a metal bar with a similar diameter to the pipe. Wrapping the wire around the bar a few times make the perfect grip for the tube. I have angled the coil grip downwards slightly so the water is safely piped into the bin, and not on the floor.

Step 5 | Before connecting the air and water lines to the Laser Cutter it is always a good idea to make sure things work. I have filled the water reservoir about 3/4 of the way up.

Ventilation

Connecting the Laser Cutter to an outside vent is essential. There is a huge amount of smoke produced when cutting and making sure it is extracted correctly is a must.

The Laser Cutter comes with a length of 150mm (4") pipe. In my case this wasn't long enough so I had to pop down to the local hardware store and purchase a 1 metre extension. This then left me with the problem of extending the supplied pipe.

The solution was to modify a tin and use it as two connecting pipes.

Step 6 | I spend a few minutes hunting around the house looking for a tin of the correct diameter. I found a Tetley's Tea container of the right size. Firstly I cut the bottom off with a tin-opener. Then, using a sharp Stanley Knife, I cut it in half. Be warned, the edges will be sharp. To help protect myself, and the ventilation tube, I covered the edges with thick masking tape.

Step 7 | I chose to cut the supplied tube in half, and fit the extension in the middle. Using a sharp knife the tube was sliced in half. Into the first tube section is inserted one of the two tube connectors, it should go about half way into the tube.. I have wrapped some PVC Tape around the tube to help form a seal and hold the pipe in place. Repeat this with the other section of pipe.

Step 8 | The extension comes with two Tie-Wraps. Slip one end of the extension over the tube connector. Hold the extension in place with one of the tie-wraps. Repeat with the other tube section. The ventilation tube is now ready for use.

The ventilation pipe needs connecting to an external vent. In the room where I have the cutter there is no vent, only a window.

Step 9 | With the window open, and using some of the packing foam from the Laser Cutter I have filled in the space in the window frame.

Step 10 | Take a flower pot. Cut the top off. Make sure the ventilation pipe just fits over the pot.

Step 11 | Mark a hole in the foam using the flower pot top and cut out the hole.

Step 12 | Feed the ventilation pipe through the hole.

Step 13 | Place the flower pot top inside the ventilation pipe and secure it in place using a stapler.

Step 14 | Press the flower pot top, with attached tube, into the foam.

Step 15 | Re-fit the foam in the window frame.

Step 16 | Attach the other end of the ventilation tube to the Laser Cutter using the supplied jubilee clip. I used another wire coat-hanger to help support the tube.

Step 17 | Check all connections, cables, pipes and settings. Thoroughly check the entire Laser Cutter for obstructions, packing materials, and general detritus.

Step 18 | Power On!

The first time I power up the Laser Cutter there was some rattling from the access panels. To cure this I stuck some foam strip along the edge of the access panel hatches on the opposite side to the hinges. There's no need to put the strip all the way around the hatch, you might find the hatches won't close if you do.
 
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