Mercury Laser Cutter

Mercury Laser cutter
Mercury Laser cutter
Photo from Mercury Laser cutter @ Vaasa Hacklab
Mercury Laser cutter

Mercury Laser cutter

The laser cutter  is a GCC LaserPro Mercury I equipped with 25W RF stimulated CO2 laser. The working area is 635mm × 458mm. The laser is capable of engraving and cutting paper, cardboard, leather, wood, plywood (6mm) and acrylic (10mm). Also some other soft materials can be used.

The maximum engraving speed is 1066 mm/sec. When engraving an A4 size square with 250dpi at full speed, it takes  about 18 minutes to complete

Preparations

  • You need to have qualification for the cutter, ask someone for help
  • Make sure the fume exhaust is routed outside and the fan on
  • Make sure you are not cutting or engraving material that is on the list of forbidden materials. (PVC, carbon fibre, metal ..)
  • If your material is neither on the list of forbidden nor on the list of allowed materials, do some research first – make sure it is suitable for cutting
  • Do not look at the invisible laser as it is not good for you – use the camera

Safety

Never cut/engrave:

  • poly-carbonate (fumes bad for humans and residue bad for cutter)
  • carbon fibre (not good)
  • glass fibre (not good)
  • ABS (fumes bad for humans)
  • glass (glass dust bad for humans and not good for cutter)
  • metal (reflections bad for humans & cutter)
  • PVC (fumes kill humans)

Do not look at the invisible laser beam!

 

Workflow

  • Start CorelDRAW
    • Draw or open the graphic you want to cut/engrave
      • Hint: If an SVG file doesn’t show up properly, open it in InkScape and copy to CorelDRAW
      • Hint: some file formats cannot be opened directly on CorelDraw, but can be imported from File –> Import (CTRL+I)
      • Hint: Open preferences (CTRL+J), select Grid from the menu on the left, set grid to suitable size, check Show Grid and Snap to Grid. Lining up objects just became a lot easier!
      • Hint: Drag guidelines from the rulers to mark the material boundaries
    • Laser will engrave everything else but hairline vector lines
  • Start the laser
    • Turn on main switch from the extension cord
      • Should turn on exhaust fan (plug connected?)
      • Should turn on air assist pump (plug connected?)
    • Turn on laser cutter (switch at right hand side, close to back side)
      • If laser is complaining Y-axis error
        • Turn off laser
        • Move Y axis to front of machine by hand
        • Turn on laser
      • In the initialization phase the table will move 50 mm down
    • Put your material into the laser in the top left corner
    • Press start/stop from the control panel
      • on display it will show “stop”
      • move the head on top of the material so that the focus hole in on the material
      • put the focus calibration tool (60mm bolt) into the hole
      • use the up/down buttons to bring the material to just touch the focus tool
        • focus is now correct for the used lens
    • Press start/stop from the control panel
      • the panel display should resemble copier display on standby
  • Back to CorelDRAW
    • From menu Print..
      • Printer properties -> Pens
        • Different colors on drawing can be used to set different settings for laser
        • speed/power to distinguish between cutting and engraving
        • check suitable speed/power settings from the list of allowed materials
      • Print
  • Never leave laser unattended – risk of fire
    • After work move the y axis to front of the machine by pressing start/stop and using the arrows
    • Turn off laser
    • Turn off main switch in the extension cord

 

  • If you found a new suitable material that is not on the list, please add it along with suitable settings!

 

The Mercury acts as a regular printer on the Windows XP (32bit) computer. The settings of laser are controlled via different pen colors in the printer driver.

Mercury User Manual (PDF)

Engraving

Laser is able to engrave pretty much any bitmap you can open on the computer.

Cutting

In order to cut you need to have a vector graphic with thinnest lines. Too thick of a line is considered as engraving job. When cutting the speeds are extremely low, around 1% mark and power is full 100%.