Equipment/K40 Laser Cutter

From Teesside Hackspace

K40 Laser Cutter
Model K40
Sub-category CNC
Status Defunct
Training requirement yes
Owner Teesside Hackspace
Origin Hackspace Funds
Location Mezzanine
Maintainers Jimallanson

Basic Safety[edit]

This is far from an exhaustive list, but here are some extremely basic and fundamental safety tips:

  • Do not use the laser cutter before attending a safety induction
  • Never fire the laser with the cover open.
  • Never operate the laser without the water pump functioning, and proper ventilation.
  • Never look at the laser directly. Reflections from the laser can permanently blind you. Even reflections off of a wall or material being cut can be incredibly dangerous.
  • Never leave the operating laser unattended.
  • Have a fire extinguisher on hand, and be able to kill power to the unit immediately in case of emergency.


Material DANGER! Cause/Consequence
PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride)/vinyl/pleather/artificial leather Emits pure chlorine gas when cut! Don't ever cut this material as it will ruin the optics, cause the metal of the machine to corrode, and ruin the motion control system.
Thick ( >1mm ) Polycarbonate/Lexan Cut very poorly, discolor, catch fire Polycarbonate is often found as flat, sheet material. The window of the laser cutter is made of Polycarbonate because polycarbonate strongly absorbs infrared radiation! This is the frequency of light the laser cutter uses to cut materials, so it is very ineffective at cutting polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is a poor choice for laser cutting.
ABS Emits cyanide gas and tends to melt ABS does not cut well in a laser cutter. It tends to melt rather than vaporize, and has a higher chance of catching on fire and leaving behind melted gooey deposits on the vector cutting grid. It also does not engrave well (again, tends to melt).
HDPE/milk bottle plastic Catches fire and melts It melts. It gets gooey. Don't use it.
PolyStyrene Foam Catches fire It catches fire, it melts, and only thin pieces cut. This is the #1 material that causes laser fires!!!
PolyPropylene Foam Catches fire Like PolyStyrene, it melts, catches fire, and the melted drops continue to burn and turn into rock-hard drips and pebbles.
Fiberglass Emits fumes It's a mix of two materials that cant' be cut. Glass (etch, no cut) and epoxy resin (fumes)
Coated Carbon Fiber Emits noxious fumes A mix of two materials. Thin carbon fiber mat can be cut, with some fraying - but not when coated.


The laser cutter has been tested with acrylic and laser-safe MDF so far, we've purchased this from Kitronik. If you want to try a new material (and it's not on the dangerous materials list) please let the Trustees know first.


Laser Cutter Setup[edit]

  • Ensure the Laser Cutter, cooling pump and exhaust fan are all turned on and running. Make sure the laser switch is in the off (raised) position
  • Place the material on the laser bed, aligned to the marker-drawn guides in the top left corner
  • Close the lid and put on a pair of laser safety goggles
  • Turn the laser switch on and press the test switch briefly (around 1 second)
  • Turn the laser switch off, open the lid and make sure the laser left a small dot in the top-left of your material
  • Close the lid, turn the laser switch back on, and start the cut from CorelLaser

Corel Laser Usage[edit]

  • Open Corel Laser from the Laser PC taskbar
  • Set the page orientation to horizontal
  • Add your SVG file from the File -> Import menu
  • Click in the top left of the canvas to add your design
  • Click on either the "Cutting" or "Engraving" button in the top right corner of the screen, depending on your design
  • Ensure the cutting speed is set to the correct value (10mm/s for cutting, 340mm/s for engraving)
  • Click the "Starting" button
  • Stay with the laser cutter until it's finished.
  • Turn off the laser switch and remove the finished piece from the bed