Laser cutter location

  • We have been going around in mini groups discussing where to put the laser cutter. We have had several ideas.

    1. Leave it in the foyer and call that spot the laser cutting room.
      Pro - easiest option
      Con - probably need that exit for fire code, need room for chiller

    2. Tip the unit on end (was Cut a hole in the wall) and shove it into Nicolas’ office.
      Pro - next easiest option , no disassembly required.
      Con - not supposed to cut lathe and plaster walls(?), no idea what complications are going to be hidden in the walls. Just remove door frames and all the room contents

    3. Tip the unit on end (was disassemble) and move it into the board room / parts area, evict the parts from that area to an upstairs room.
      Pro - not moving the machine upstairs.
      Con - displaces the working area to an upstairs area possibly increasing the rent. The social aspect of working on stuff is separated from the lounge. Distance to the kitchen is increased. remove door frames

    4. Tip the unit on end (was disassemble) and move it into the lounge.
      Pro - not moving the machine upstairs, less stuff to relocate
      Con - The lounge is in full use on many days. less space available for meetings. remove door frame

    5. Disassemble the unit and move it into the design lab.
      Pro - This was the original idea. We are already committed to the increase in rent.
      Con - We have even more good ideas for that space. It may be hard to use the space in a creative manner with a laser cutter an chiller running in the background. Moving the machine upstairs.

    6. Disassemble the unit and move it into a different upstairs room
      Pro - least disruption to all other areas of the space.
      Con - does this increase our rent again? Moving the machine upstairs.

    7. Tip the unit on end (was disassemble) and move it into the Fab Shop.
      Pro - not moving the machine upstairs. Space is not well utilized. Lots of power is available. Venting is easy.
      Con - Dirt and grit from metalworking can destroy the mirrors. Some sort of positive pressure filtered air system and curtaining my be needed to preserve our investment. Engine parts may need a new home. remove door frames and some of the the room contents

    8. Tip the unit on end (was disassemble) and put it in the Electronics Lab
      Pro - not as much stuff to relocate, easily closed off for ventilation purposes. Not carrying the machine up the stairs.
      Con - Many parts will have to be sacrificed to make room for the electronic room contents.

  • We could also move the machine into Nicolas’ office by disassembly and reassembly negating the need to cut a wall, then move Nicolas into the electronics lab.

  • Linux

    How big is this thing??

    Learning and working on learning more!


  • 0_1459577754827_20160401_231446.jpg
    6 feet wide by 4 foot 4 inches deep by 3 foot 6 inches high. Weighs three and a half metric tons (kidding). Needs a chiller unit which will be about the size of an air conditioner plus 5 gallon pail. Also needs an exhaust filter about the same size

  • Linux

    And our doorways are under 42" wide… thus the challenges re walls/disassembly?

    Learning and working on learning more!


  • @hdsheena Exactly. The laser cutter is too large in any dimension to fit through any single door inside the space. The door frames are 35.5 inches wide and the unit without the legs is 36. I’ve done some more thinking on your question and it seems we can tip the unit on end and move it anywhere on the ground floor by removing the unit legs and removing the door trim.
    The second floor would still require machine disassembly. There is no way to line the unit up with the staircase.

  • Hmmmm. No clear best solution.
    We should also keep in mind the room required to manipulate materials to feed into the cutter. The office might be a bit cramped.

  • Linux

    Is the outdoor staircases an option worth considering? With proper harnesses/lifting technique…?

    Learning and working on learning more!


  • My vote is to keep the machine in the ground floor. I like option 7 and would also like to look at not removing the mirrors. It is a common misconception that the metal work dust will get into the mirrors. The door to the laser must always be kept closed. It would make sense to put it there.

    Either way I would like the engine gone and we need to take this chance to clean up metal shop since we are clearly tight on space.

    I suggest putting a maintenance team together for the laser cutter. That team will be responsible for upkeep of the laser. This is a big responsibility so don’t jump in unless you are comfortable with maintaining machine of this complexity. Everything will be done in the open, but this team will be the people actually doing the work. Their first job will be to move the machine on Wednesday. So far we have:

    our first meeting is this Wednesday to move the laser.

    Does anyone else wants to be in that team?

  • Member

    I will help move the laser and think about joining the crew

  • @arasbm said:

    The door to the laser must always be kept closed. It would make sense to put it there

    Except that you have to open the door to load and unload parts and materials. I’ve worked with first surface reflectors before, they’re very sensitive to abrasives, because the shiny bit is on the outside of the glass, not behind it. A laser cutter needs first surface mirrors, because the refractive index of glass is different than that of air, so the light will be scattered passing through the air/glass transition. These mirrors are expensive and fragile, and replacing them would likely require re-calibrating the machine.

    My vote is to acknowledge that we’ve bought an expensive, somewhat fragile toy and to treat it with the respect that this investment deserves by putting it some place clean. If we really can’t follow through on the plan of putting it on the second floor (which is the whole reason we started putting stuff up there in the first place) then I’d say the hack room myself. We could move the less fragile CNC gear from there to a new location quite easily.

  • Linux

    My vote is to put it in the metal shop, and move the metal shop upstairs, the design shop downstairs.
    Barring that, putting some significant investment into filtering air before and after it reaches the laser seems wise. The big filters i have will be more than sufficient, but will need fans/power/maintenance.

    Learning and working on learning more!


  • I think we should put it in the electronics shop. We can make the shop a more square space if we need to. The amount of gear in there is small. It can be sealed off from the rest of the space and the materials for cutting can be kept clean before being placed in the machine.

  • @pierre thanks for sharing your information about surface mirrors. I am well aware of how they work, why they are used in the laser and how we are supposed to clean them. That reminds me, I will put instructions on how to clean those on the list of things to teach everyone else in the maintenance team.

    we’ve bought an expensive, somewhat fragile toy

    Quite the opposite. We have purchase a cheap industrial machine. This is not a toy!

    The reason I suggested the metal room is that it is mostly unused space right now. There is a whole a lot of junk being stored in there and we can reclaim that space and use it a lot more efficiently. I see that people may be worried especially when not familiar with the machine. I have used the laser cutter enough to understand the air flow and what things are not good for it. Metal working is not going to cause any issues for the mirrors. My only concern would be the exterior that could get scratched or marked. @Nicholas and I discussed creating a wall to separate one section of the metal shop for plastic work and placing vacuum former and the laser cutter there together.

    Either way, I think the decision should be made by people that will commit seriously to maintaining the laser. There is a lot of planning involved to set up chiller, access and monitoring systems we plan to do and to make sure we have enough consumables around to keep the machine up and running for everyone.

    I think by now everyone knows how excited I am about the laser cutter and I would be the last person that would want anything to happen to the machine. However I think we should place it in an area where it can be used comfortably, and lets not create imaginary issues for ourselves. That being said I am happy with putting it in the hack room or the electronics room as well.

  • Adafruit seems to have a decent checklist on basic laser cutter maintenance:

    @arasbm I’m sorry if I offended you by calling the cheap, somewhat fragile industrial machine a toy. I still assert that anything that should not be adjusted with a hammer is somewhat fragile. And I tend to call anything that I intend to play with a toy.

    I’ve done some more searching to try to find any reference to first surface reflectors being harder than aluminum oxide, which is the primary abrasive grit that all the stuff in the metal room appears to pick up a light coating of right now. I’ve found no references to this at all. All I have is my own, very personal, experience working with optical aiming components for an infrared thermography machine I helped build and write software for some years ago. My experience was that the mirrors scratch if you look at them funny. And then you have to replace them and spend many hours realigning the damn machine. If you can find anything that provides a documented counterexample demonstrating the ability of these machines to thrive in filth, it’d do wonders to set my mind at ease. As it is, we’re counting on the investment in this machine to bring in new membership, which only works if the machine works well, and lasts long enough to pay for itself.

  • Wherever we put the machine we can maintain it at a positive air pressure like I did with the shapeoko computer upstairs. This will prevent dust from entering the machine by having filtered air leaking out any openings. We need positive pressure as part of the ventilation system anyway.

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