Laser Cutter Upgrade - August 12th

The laser cutter will get a small upgrade tomorrow evening. Plan for it to be offline starting at 7:00 for the remainder of the evening.

The upgrade will be adding an air assist system that will give us better engraving and slightly better cutting by differentiating air flow between the two functions.

Thanks all.

Thanks to @jody and @RealCarlRaymond the upgrade was completed successfully.

SOPs will be updated in the coming days to reflect the changes, but here’s the important bits for those that use the machine between now and then:

  1. The air assist pump was upgraded to a higher flow air pump.
  2. The laser is now in control of turning the air assist pump on and off. The pump will come on when a job starts and turn off when it completes. The switch on the power strip no longer has any effect.
  3. The “IfBlowing” option in layer settings now controls whether the air assist is on at “full” or “minimum”. IfBlowing Yes == Full, IfBlowing No == Minimum.
  4. There is a switch on the front of the machine labeled “Air Assist Override”. Flipping this switch on will turn on the air pump in “Full” mode, overriding the IfBlowing setting in RdWorks.

I’ll let @jody talk about when and where each setting will be useful, but for those looking to keep their lasering experience consistent with how it worked previously, make sure that IfBlowing == “YES” and/or flip the “Air Assist Override” switch to the on position.

1 Like

Which air assist setting is for cutting?

IfBlowing == YES (Generally)

The new air assist setup consists of a valve controlled by the laser cutter hardware. It is now a binary system with either very little air coming out of the nozzle [If Blowing=No] or all the air coming out of the laser nozzle [If Blowing=Yes].


[If Blowing=No] means there’s just enough air blowing through to keep the smoke out of the nozzle and off the laser lens. Smoke on the laser lens is bad and would lead to cracking the lens eventually. This setting is suggested for engraving but I haven’t seen any difference on the wood cutting that I do. Possibly it would be better for acrylic.

[If Blowing=Yes] is great for cutting. It adds oxygen to the cut. It blows smoke out of the way of the laser beam. And it prevents flare-ups on material prone to that. I’ve been able to increase cutting speeds by 40% after replacing our old, tired air pump. FYI The above image shows my settings for cutting 1/8" baltic birch plywood.

tl:dr Like @brian.adams said, the new air assist setup will be the same as before if you set the “If Blowing” Setting to yes. The laser cutter hardware will turn on air assist automatically. You’ll have to adjust your setting for the new air pump. The old air pump was slowly dying so I don’t think we noticed over the years.

Thanks for reading,