Tips for maintaining your laser cutter/engraver

Tips for maintaining your laser cutter/engraver

Proper and consistent maintenance of your laser cutter/engraver will enhance the longevity of the machine, ensuring it can perform at an optimal level, while keeping replacement parts costs down.

The intensity of the laser cutting process constantly creates fumes, smoke and debris. Together, these create a build-up of dirt within your machine and its accessories. This accumulation can cause system failures and overheating.

The level of maintenance required depends on how heavily the machine is being used and what material it is processing.

For example, if you are engraving on aluminium, you will have very little burn-off. Therefore, you may not need to clean that often.

However, if you are processing something like foam, rubber stamps or leather, then you will experience a lot of smoke and gas, which can cloud the internal workings of the machine quickly. If this is the case, you will need to clean more often.

Put simply, regular maintenance lessens the likelihood of downtime from your machine.

How to maintain your laser machine

General maintenance

Get into the habit of extracting dust from the machine and paying careful attention to the mechanical components. If left alone, friction from debris could occur, which will wear out the laser head, bearings and belts over time.

Clean the Working Table and Motion System

Clean the Working Table and Motion System

  1. Turn the power off and unplug the laser engraver / cutter.
  2. Use a vacuum cleaner with a flexible nozzle to remove dust and debris from the worktable and motion system.
  3. Dampen a piece of paper wipe or cotton towel with a small amount of all-purpose cleaner, alcohol, or acetone to clean the working table and the rails of the motion system.
  4. Wait for all cleaning residue to dry completely before plugging in and operating your laser engraver / cutter.  

*Note: Never pour or spray oil, alcohol, or acetone directly on the worktable, as this may lead to fires or soot build-up if improperly used.
 

Lubricate the X/Y Axis Linear Rail System

Lubricate the X/Y Axis Linear Rail System
  1. Clean and lubricate the X-axis linear rail of laser engraver with 0.1ml grease from syringe every two weeks to maintain the motion system properly.
  2. Always clean and lubricate the X-axis and Y-axis rails after working with materials that produce lots of debris (such as wood).

*Note: Too much oil or NSK PS2 grease applied to the Y-axis rails will accelerate the debris building up.

Clean the Mirrors

After you have removed each mirror, you will want to inspect each mirror for scratches, soot, or debris.

  1. Hold the mirror with the reflective side up without touching the reflective side of the mirror (DO NOT apply any finger pressure or any other cleaner to the mirror surface).
  2. Drape a new sheet of lens tissue over the mirror.
  3. Apply a few drops of lens cleaner on the tissue covering the mirror (apply enough so that the tissue absorbs just enough solution to cover the mirror surface).
  4. Pull the tissue across the mirror in only one direction.
  5. Make sure that the mirror is completely dry before reinstalling back.

Clean the Focal Lens

Clean the Focal Lens

!! The recommended lens cleaner is HPLC grade Methanol.

  1. Clean the focal lens with a cotton swab and lens cleaner solution. Make sure you clean both sides of the focal lens.
  2. Use a cotton swab to gently dry the focal lens and lens cover after cleaning.

*Note: DO NOT apply any finger pressure or other cleaner to the lens surface.
 

Clean Exhaust Duct

Clean Exhaust Duct

Efficient exhaust ventilation is crucial to laser cutting quality. Suggest cleaning accumulated dust inside the exhaust duct regularly, as it helps to maintain the ventilation efficiency of your laser engraver.

Winter Maintenance

We are now coming into the colder months, and the drop in temperature means your machine will need some extra love.

When possible, ensure that the machine’s room temperature is kept above 0°C, preferably around 5°C. If you struggle to maintain this temperature, use an approved anti-freeze, but please get in contact with us to make sure.

Why take maintenance so seriously?

Overheating and poor maintenance can cause fires. The risk of which can be easily resolved with a little bit of cleaning and simple care.

As an extra assurance against fire, we wholeheartedly recommend Uscribe’s ZeroFlame.

In case of fire, ZeroFlame will deploy fire suppressant into the laser processing area automatically, minimizing damage, reducing downtime, cutting costly repairs, and giving peace of mind. ZeroFlame is your constantly vigilant and silent partner in the classroom or workplace.

Maintenance checklist (a general guide):

Weekly

  • Clean lens with Acetone/Alcohol
  • Oil runners with light oil
  • Clean machine bed
  • Check water level
  • Visually check mirrors (clean if required)
  • Remove debris from machine base

Monthly

  • Oil rise and fall of laser bed
  • Clean impeller on fan unit (unless a Fume Filter is fitted)
  • Clean mirrors if required
  • Check water for contamination (change if required)
  • Clean filter in chiller (remove the front panel to access the filter)

Annually

  • Full service from an authorised expert

Maintenance is a vital part of operating a laser machine, if you have any questions please contact our laser experts today.

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