Equipment/Mercury II Laser Cutter

From Teesside Hackspace

Mercury II Laser Cutter
Model Mercury II
Sub-category CNC
Status Working
Training requirement yes
Owner Hackspace
Origin Pledge
Location Next to window to woodshop
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 operate the laser without the extraction unit connected and powered on.
  • 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 CO2 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.


This laser cutter can currently only be used under supervision.