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110112 VLS QuickStart Guide-2

Page history last edited by Wendy Ju 8 years, 9 months ago

Getting Started

with the VersaLaser 4.60

Overview

The VersaLaser is really just a large format printer (up to 24” x 18”) that engraves or cuts material with a beam of light rather than spraying ink or fusing toner.

It has two basic modes of operation:

  • engraving (also called raster mode) -- which scores or cuts into a material to mark it, but doesn’t cut through it.

  • cutting (also called vector mode) -- which cuts all the way through a material like a knife.

In most cases, when you print to the VersaLaser, you’ll be engraving. The laser will cut the image into the surface. The depth of the engraving is determined by the color you’re printing -- darker colors print more deeply, lighter color more shallowly.

The only time the VersaLaser will actually be cutting is when you set up your software to print using very specific settings -- a particular color (primary red) and particular line weight (0.001”, hairline, or the smallest line weight available).

Printing Steps

  1. Turn on the fan unit to the right side of the VersaLaser. The power switch is on the front.

  2. Choose the VersaLaser as your printer. The print driver appears as VLS4.60 (or something very similar) in the Print dialog of most applications.

  3. Edit your document following the rules outlined on the following pages. The specifics are a bit different for every application, but the general rules are:

    • For cutting, use lines that are Primary Red (RGB 255,0,0) and the thinnest line weight or stroke available (0.001”).

    • For deep engraving, use lines that are Primary Blue (RGB 0,0,255) and the thinnest line weight or stroke available (0.001”).

    • For engraving, use lines that are Primary Black (RGB 0,0,0).

    • All fills, photos and objects with other colors and line weights will be reinterpreted as their grayscale value, and the depth of the engraving will increase with the darkness of that value (light colors = shallow, dark colors = deep).

  1. Print to the VLS4.60 print driver. A special plot file (.emf file) will be created and sent to the VersaLaser’s print queue for final adjustments before engraving.

  2. Open the VLS control panel from the Windows Taskbar (it looks like red square). Using the control panel you can check the placement of your drawing, confirm that the object that you intended for cutting or deep engraving were interpreted properly, and make adjustments as needed.

    • To Zoom In, click the left mouse button.

    • To Zoom Out, click the right mouse button.

    • Switch from the Basic View to the Relocate view to move your drawing to another position on the cutting table.

    • To Power Up the VersaLaser, click the Power button in the Contol Panel window.

  3. IMPORTANT: SPECIFY YOUR MATERIAL SETTINGS

    • I don’t mean to shout, but this is the most important step in the VLS control panel and also the easiest to miss...

  • Click the Settings button, and choose the material that you’ll be engraving or cutting from the list of known materials. In general:

    • Cardboard, mat board, foamcore, wood and acrylic are all OK. They can be engraved or cut.

    • Metal and glass can be engraved, but they cannot be cut through.

    • PVC and materials made from poly vinyls should not be used. They give off toxic gases when cut.

  • If you don’t see the material that you’d like to use listed in the known materials, ask before proceeding.

  • Use the calipers to accurately determine the thickness of your material. Enter that thickness (for example, 0.065”) in the Settings window.

  • Be sure to enter an accurate thickness and material. The VersaLaser uses this information to compute the focal point and the intensity of the laser beam that will be used for this job.

    • If you enter a thickness that is too small, your engravings will not be as deep as they should be, and your cuts will probably not go through the material.

    • If you enter a thickness that is too great, you may get burning or melting at the edges of the engravings or cuts.

    • If you’re having trouble cutting through a material, you can raise the intensity of the vector cutting laser beam in the Settings dialog (to the right of the materials selection list) or run your job a second time to recut the same lines.

  1. After you’ve adjusted the material settings, click the big green Play button to start the engraving and cutting. The VersaLaser will score the engraved areas first, then go back and do the cutting.

You can view the progress of your job in the Control Panel window. The image on the screen will show the objects that have been completed as the job progresses.

IMPORTANT: NEVER LEAVE THE LASER UNATTENDED WHILE IT IS IN USE.

Many materials (for example, paper or acrylic) can catch fire and burn. So be very aware and cautious about the potential for fire. If a fire does start, use the fire extinguisher in the studio as needed to put it out.

  1. If you need to stop a job in progress:

    • You can open the top cover on the VersaLaser unit and cutting will stop. The print head will continue to move and project light to show you where cutting would take place, but the VersaLaser will never cut while the top cover is open.

    • Even better, click the big Pause button to stop the process completely. Cutting will stop and the print head will return to the home position.

  2. Wait a few moments for any smoke to clear before opening the top cover on the VersaLaser unit.

Managing the Job Queue

The VLS Control Panel maintains a queue of all the jobs that are waiting to be plotted or have been plotted in the past. When you print to the VersaLaser, your job gets added to the end of that queue.

What’s happening in the background is the VLS4.60 print driver creates a special plot file (and .emf file) and places that file in a special folder on the computer. All of the files in this special folder appear in the queue.

At the top of the VLS control panel, you’ll see the currently selected job in the queue, left and right arrows for scrolling through the list of jobs, as well as a button (looks like an open folder) that opens a special dialog for managing the queue. In this dialog you can:

  • Select -- chooses an .emf file from the list and promotes it to be the current job.

  • Add -- add an .emf file from another location to the queue.

  • Delete -- delete the selected job and its .emf file from the queue.

  • Purge -- delete all non-permanent jobs from the queue. This essentially clears the queue of all jobs (except for the few that have been marked as permanent).

Adobe Illustrator

Overview

Adobe Illustrator can print bitmap and vector graphics, so it is a good application to use for laser cutting as well as engraving.

Document / Page Setup

In the Document Setup dialog (File:Document Setup), set the document size to 24” x 24”. The VersaLaser can only print the objects that appear in the uppermost 18” of the page (ignoring the lower 6”).

Creating / Editing

As you create and edit objects in Illustrator, the key to success is assigning the proper colors and line weights:

  • For cutting, assign Stroke (line weight) = 0.001”, Stroke Color = Primary Red (RGB 255,0,0).

  • For deep engraving, assign Stroke = 0.001”, Stroke Color = Primary Blue (RGB 0,0,255).

  • For engraving, assign Stroke = 0.001”, Stroke Color = Primary Black (RGB 0,0,0).

  • All fills will be printed as engraving.

  • Photos and objects with other colors will be reinterpreted as their grayscale value, and the depth of the engraving will increase with the darkness of that value (light colors = shallow, dark colors = deep).

Printing

In the Print dialog (File:Print), ignore the facts that the preview window shows the page rotated the wrong way, and you cannot see the rightmost side of your document. These are software glitches, but your plot will be OK.

Leave the Page Orientation set to Portrait; don’t set it to Landscape. Also, do not scale the document -- you want it to print at full size.

Adobe Photoshop

Overview

Adobe Photoshop prints documents as bitmap graphics. It is a good application to use for engraving, but it cannot be used for laser cutting.

Document / Page Setup

In the Document Setup dialog (File:Document Setup), set the document size to 11” x 11”. You can use a bigger size, but the VersaLaser can only print the objects the top left 11” x 11” square of the page (unless you scale to fit).

Creating / Editing

As you create and edit graphics in Photoshop, keep in mind that:

  • All fills will be printed as engraving.

  • Colors will be reinterpreted as their grayscale value, and the depth of the engraving will increase with the darkness of that value (light colors = shallow, dark colors = deep).

Printing

Leave the Page Orientation set to Portrait; don’t set it to Landscape.

Do not scale the document -- you want it to print at full size, unless you are specifically trying to reduce a larger image to print within the 11” x 11” limits.

Hint: To print a larger image that exceeds the 11” x 11” limits and take advantage of the full 24” x 18” cutting area, you can break the image into smaller tiles and use the VersaLaser control panel to adjust the placement of the individual tiles on the larger piece of material.

Microsoft Word

Overview

Microsoft Word prints documents as bitmap graphics. It is a good application to use for engraving, but it cannot be used for laser cutting.

Document / Page Setup

In the Document Setup dialog (File:Document Setup), set the document size to Letter size or larger (up to 24” x 18”).

Creating / Editing

As you create and edit text and objects in Word, keep in mind that:

  • All text and objects will be printed as engraving.

  • The colors of the text and objects will be reinterpreted as their grayscale value, and the depth of the engraving will increase with the darkness of that value (light colors = shallow, dark colors = deep).

Printing

Print as you would to any other printer.

Google SketchUp

Overview

Google SketchUp prints documents as bitmap graphics. It is a good application to use for engraving, but it cannot be used for laser cutting.

Document / Page Setup

Use the Page Setup / Document Setup dialogs to set the size of your page first (up to 24” x 18”).

Creating / Editing

As you create and edit text and objects in SketchUp, keep in mind that:

  • All objects, fills, and text will be printed as engraving.

  • The colors of the objects, fills, and text will be reinterpreted as their grayscale value, and the depth of the engraving will increase with the darkness of that value (light colors = shallow, dark colors = deep).

Printing

Print as you would to any other printer.

  • Page Size: After you choose the VLS4.60 printer, the page size will show User-Defined: Landscape.

  • Be sure to set the Print Scale to the desired value that will fit you model objects onto the materials that you are engraving.

Revit Architecture / Structure / MEP

Overview

Autodesk Revit can print bitmap and vector graphics, so it is a good application to use for laser cutting as well as engraving.

Print Setup

In the Print Setup dialog (File:Print Setup or click the button in the Print dialog), set the page size to 24” x 24”.

The VersaLaser can only print the objects that appear in the uppermost 18” of the page (ignoring the lower 6”). So, use the biggest Titleblock you should use is 18x24 (or 17x22) Landscape.

Creating / Editing

As you create and edit objects in Revit, the key to success is assigning the proper colors and line weights. Create new Line Styles (Settings: Line Styles) that specify these settings:

  • Laser-Cutting: assign Line Weight = 1, Color = Primary Red (RGB 255,0,0).

  • Laser-Deep Engraving: assign Line Weight = 1, Color = Primary Blue (RGB 0,0,255).

  • Laser-Engraving: assign Line Weight = 1 or greater, Color = Primary Black (RGB 0,0,0).

As you edit your views, keep in mind that:

  • All Fills will be printed as engraving.

  • All Line Weights greater than 1 will be printed as engraving.

  • Lines and objects with colors other than primary red, blue, or black will be reinterpreted as their grayscale value, and the depth of the engraving will increase with the darkness of that value (light colors = shallow, dark colors = deep).

Printing

In the Print dialog (File:Print), click the Print Setup button to adjust these settings:

  • Page Size: After you choose the VLS4.60 printer, the page size will show User-Defined: Landscape.

  • Paper Placement: use the X and Y values here to shift your drawing on the paper. Positive X values shift to the right, and positive Y values shift up. Typically, you’ll want to use:

    • Y = 6” to shift the drawing up 6”, since the VersaLaser ignores the lowest 6” of the page.

  • Zoom: 100%. Don’t choose Fit to Page.

It’s typically a very smart idea to run a Preview of your document to double-check the drawing placement before sending it to the VersaLaser.

AutoCAD Architecture

Overview

AutoCAD Architecture can print bitmap and vector graphics, so it is a good application to use for laser cutting as well as engraving.

Creating a New Document

The easiest way to set up the appropriate colors and line weights needed to control the VersaLaser is to choose a document template that can access the pre-defined Plot Style Table (named Laser.CTB) which has already been set up. This table maps the colors of the objects you draw to the proper line weights for plotting. Thus, it’s known as a Color Dependent Plot Style Table or CTB file.

When you create a new AutoCAD document, choose one of the following templates which can access and use the Laser.CTB Plot Style Table:

  • ACAD

  • AEC Model (Imperial CTB)

  • AEC Sheet (Imperial CTB)

Document Setup

In the Drawing Limits dialog (Format: Drawing Limits), set the drawing limits from 0,0 to 24,18. This will define a 24” wide x 18” tall drawing area.

To help you create your objects within that drawing area, display the grid. In the Drafting Settings dialog (Format: Drafting Settings), select the Display Grid checkbox. Also, set the grid spacing to something smaller - 1” grid spacing in both directions would be good.

Creating / Editing

As you create and edit objects in AutoCAD, the key to success is assigning the proper colors. Select an object in the AutoCAD drawing window, then use the Properties dialog to set it’s color:

  • for Laser-Cutting: select Primary Red (RGB 255,0,0).

  • for Laser-Deep Engraving: select Primary Blue (RGB 0,0,255).

  • for Laser-Engraving: select Primary Black (RGB 0,0,0).

As you edit your objects, keep in mind that:

  • All Fills will be printed as engraving.

  • All lines and objects with colors other than primary red, blue, or black will be reinterpreted as their grayscale value, and the depth of the engraving will increase with the darkness of that value (light colors = shallow, dark colors = deep).

Printing

Before you print, make sure that the Laser.CTB Plot Style Table is selected. This is the file that maps your color selections into the proper line weights to instruct the VersaLaser what to do. Deselect any objects in the drawing window and open the Properties dialog. Check the setting for Plot Style Table. If it doesn’t say Laser.CTB, pull down the menu of values and select Laser.CTB.

In the Plot dialog (File:Plot), choose these settings:

  • Select Plotter: VLS4.pc3.

  • Paper Size: after you choose the VLS4.pc3 printer, the page size will show User-Defined: Landscape.

  • What to Plot: choose Limits from the menu of options. This is the only choice that will print the full 24” x 18” drawing area without scaling.

  • It’s typically a very smart idea to run a Preview of your document to double-check the drawing placement before sending it to the VersaLaser.

  • Finally, click the Plot button.

Getting Started with the VersaLaser 4.60 Page 10

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