- 1 Safety First
- 2 Preparation to Use
- 3 Job Preparation
- 4 Finishing Up
- 5 Cleaning
- Be sure your materials are suitable for lasering. See Laser Materials.
- Know your settings for the materials. The wrong setting can set stuff on fire. Fire=bad. Don't play with fire. See Boss Laser Settings
- There is a halogen fire extinguisher by the lasers in the CNC room. Know where it is. Do NOT be afraid to use it, it is pure gas and will not leave a residue.
- While the BOSS has doors to accommodate materials that won't fit on the laser bed, they are not used. Opening the doors can allow laser light to escape and blind someone.
- If the lasered materials catch fire:
- Open the enclosure to turn off the laser.
- Grab the material or honeycomb bed to move it away from the laser head.
- Use the halogen fire extinguisher if the materials stay on fire.
Preparation to Use
Turn On Safety/Heat Dissipating Systems
- Turn on the the rocker switch by the Boss computer. It turns on the air assist, the water cooler, and the exhaust fan.
- Do NOT touch the cooler switch by the exhaust pipe. The cooler itself always stays on.
Turn On The Laser
- Lift up on the red panic button by the control panel.
- Turn the key.
- Turn on the laser computer.
- Move the laser head over the materials using the arrow keys on the control panel. It's best not to autofocus at the edge of the materials - the head should plunge to touch a solid piece of material and not the edge.
- Press the U/P button.
- Press the down key until you reach the Autofocus selection.
- Press "Enter"
- The BOSS will lower the head to touch the material and focus.
- You're now ready to set the origin.
(Note that the focal length is 6.6mm. I have found that the "Z index" menu item can be used to set this to 6.3mm, which seemed to work better for cutting MDF core plywood.
Setting the Origin
The BOSS's origin is in the upper right of the drawing, as opposed to the Epilog, which has the origin in the upper left. Unlike the Epilog, there is no known origin, as the honeycomb bed is movable and doesn't have a set edge. Set up your materials reasonably square. Note that if the materials are too close to the edge of the bed, you'll get a "Frame Slop" warning. This unhelpful message means that the design you intend to cut will be truncated at the edge of the bed.
To set the origin:
- Move the laser head using the arrow keys.
- Press the origin button.
The laser software is called RDworks. Unfortunately it's a Chinese software with a crappy user manual.
The software will import Illustrator files, EPS and SVG?.
The way speed/power settings are applied is colors applied to "paths". Originally all paths have the black color applied. Once you have a color applied to a path, you can set up the path settings. Each path has 4 settings:
- Power (While Power goes up to 100% in practice it's limited to 95%, and you shouldn't use above 80%)
- Display (if the path shows in RDWorks layout
- Output (if the path selected is being output)
(TODO - what does min/max power mean?)
It's useful to set different colors - a few uses:
- Test jobs. There are several test files in the XXXX directory (TODO move here as attachments for download)
- When first starting your job, you may want to cut only a test piece first, so you can make sure it's cutting properly. Set all other paths to a different color, then set the "Output" setting to "No".
- You can also set a priority for a color. This is useful when dealing with plywood. Almost no 1/4" plywood is flat - it always warps. Additionally applying heat tends to make the plywood "cup" even more. By making your first cuts through the center of the board (from top to bottom or left to right), you're cutting the "cup" in half and helping the board fall much flatter.
- Set a path not to output, but preserve its location and preserve the location of the origin.
Notice the green rectangle in the upper right of the overall design. This is automatically set as the origin. Deleting paths on the top or right of the design will change the origin. In order to keep the same origin but add further cuts, change paths to not output.
RDworks can import Illustrator files. The issues:
- The layers all display, which can be an issue if you're using layers to store different cuts.
- It doesn't always properly clip paths, for example paths hidden by overlapping shapes.
- Close the lid.
- Double check that the air assist, air exhaust and cooler are all on.
- Click the "Output?" button on the laser computer. It's near the bottom right of the screen.
- Immediately watch from the edge of the lid to see it cutting. You didn't start a fire, did you - you pyromanic, you...
A "Frame Slop" error means your job is going to try cutting outside the X/Y the boss can do. You probably need to move your origin away from the edge.
- The honeycomb grid comes out. You can vacuum in the center of the grid.
- Don't leave junk in/on the honeycomb!
- Turn off the air assist toggle switch by the computer.
- Don't touch the switch -on- the cooler. Instead turn off the switch behind the cooler.
- Turn off the air exhaust switch which is also behind the cooler.
- Turn off the key on the laser.
- Push down the red panic button.
To clean the lens:
- Have gloves. You must handle it only with gloved hands; clean, powderless, nitrile gloves are fine. So are cotton finger cots, but nitrile is easier to come by.
- Have a soft lint free cloth/surface (need to work the surface out).
- Take the lense out of its holder.
- Blow the lens off with clean condensed air. Do not use the "freon" sprays for camera lenses. ZnSe is somewhat sensitive to thermal shock: there is the possibility of spraying drops of liquid that will evaporate quickly and crater the lens.
- Since it can be difficult to focus on a mostly transparent surface, it's best to examine the lens under a small, bright light source like a desk lamp to look for contaminants. If you don't see any, you're done. Put the lens back in its holder and go.
- If there are contaminants, use isopropyl alcohol (not rubbing alcohol, too much water and possibly other contaminants) as a cleaning solvent. Acetone also works, but IPA is a lot more pleasant to work with, and most Boss owners use it.
- Either use Q-tips or lens tissues (preferred) wetted with solvent. With Q-tips, start at the middle of the lens and work outward, gently mopping the lens in a spiral motion moving out to the edge. With tissues or microfiber cloth, drag the wetted tissue over the lens. In either case, immediately blow any residual solvent off the lens with clean compressed air. Examine again, and repeat if necessary. Otherwise return the lens to its mount. Experience will teach us how often this should be done. (Do NOT use Kleenex or paper towels, they can contain bits of grit)
For mirrors: Dust burns and degrades the mirror.
- For the mirrors, regularly blow the dust off with clean, dry air or freon (no thermal shock issues).
- Occasionally clean them like lenses. You should not have to remove them from their mounts.