Laser Cutter - Bumblebee

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There are two of these. This one is named Bumblebee. It is identical to Wolverine, except that whereas Bumblebee is yellow and black, Wolverine is yellow and very dark navy blue.

Laser Cutter - Bumblebee
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Name Bumblebee
Owner Group-owned, purchased with funds collected from far and wide.
Make Model Jinan G. Weike / WKLaser LC1280
Part Number
Date Acquired
Storage Location West wall, you can't miss it.
Authorization Required
Other References makes wonderful box patterns that you can put into the laser cutter.



Operation of the laser cutter must be done under the supervision of one of the trained operators.

i3Detroit asks that users donate $10 per hour that the beam is active. This is to replace consumables, especially the expensive bulb. There is a wooden donation box.

Do not cut or etch any plastics or other materials that contain chlorine or vinyl. A trace amount of chlorine, such as found in the glue in thin plywood or the resin of medium density fiberboard, is acceptable. Particle board has too much glue. You are responsible to know whether there is chlorine in your material before you try to cut it.

If you cut plexiglass, please be sure that it is acrylic and not polycarbonate. Look along the cut edge of the material, from the side. Polycarbonate is dark on this area; acrylic is light. Polycarbonate is one of the most dangerous materials you could try to laser. It instantly starts producing yellow, acrid, toxic fumes which will corrode your lungs, and the mechanisms and lens of the laser. When the lens clouds up with these fumes, it may reflect the laser back into the machine, which may melt the head and set the machine on fire. You may not be able to reach the fire extinguisher due to what is in your lungs. Both these outcomes will upset the community.

Materials List

  • Cut or etch: Acrylic, Delrin, Leather, Matte Board Chip Board (AKA architect modeling board), Melamine, Model Foam, Rubber, Wood (natural or veneer)
  • Etches but does not successfully cut: Glass, Coated Metals, Painted Metals, Ceramic, Tile, Marble
  • Cuts but does not take etching very well: Cloth, Paper, Mylar
  • Banned: Human flesh (yes, this has come up), Polycarbonate (Lexan etc.), PVC, Particle Board, any plastic if you don't know for sure it is Delrin or Acrylic


You will need access to vector graphics software to design your parts. LaserCut is good for putting finished art into the laser, but barely adequate for designing art.

Materials which can be cut, can normally be cut up to about 3/16 of an inch. Some materials can be cut thicker with multiple passes. The thickest cut so far was of 1" thick acrylic. However, that required that it be cut from the opposite side, while flipped over and perfectly registered.

When cutting parts on the laser, you will use the software to set the cutting speed and power. If we have cut the material you are using before, you can refer to the power and speed recommendations in this list. Otherwise - experiment! Bring some scrap material to do test cuts on until you find a cut you are satisfied with. After that, record your power and speed settings in the list:

Power and Speed Settings

None yet

In general:

  • Lower speeds allow for lower cutting power, which saves life on the laser tube.
  • Lower speeds cut a wider "kerf" (thickness of cut) through the material.
  • At higher speeds the cut is faster but requires higher power, which uses up the laser tube faster.
  • High power on wood and paper may cause some discoloration near the cuts (browning color from burned material).

Time-of-cut checklist:

  1. Place material (square to edge of honeycomb).
  2. Cover inactive honeycomb area except an "intake" in front of the material. This directs smoke away from the gantry. <- This was easier with AB's Laser Cutter because it pulled air downward, but Bumblebee does not.
  3. Turn on main switch. This should bring up the chiller and air-assist pump.
  4. Gently pinch rubber hose from laser to chiller, to trigger chiller alarm, verifying that it's awake.
  5. Turn keyswitch to on, and wait for boot and home to complete.
  6. With the D-pad, jog head over to start of cut.
  7. Press "Z" to enter the mode to raise or lower the bed. Press "Datum" to auto-focus. Press "Z" again to exit Z mode.
  8. Wave hand under head and verify that air-assist is blowing. (Compressor is a separate machine and must be plugged in.)
  9. Download design from LaserCut software.
  10. Keep one hand over emergency-stop while using the "Test" button to check boundaries.
  11. Turn on the exhaust fan.
  12. Lift the fire extinguisher and set it back down. This verifies that your muscle-memory knows where it is.
  13. Press "Start".
  14. DO NOT WALK AWAY. See for why.

Maintenance Info

Does this thing need its oil changed every 30 cycles? People need to know!


A list of commonly asked questions


New cylinders to hold different lenses, make it easy and safe to change them without smudging or damage. Sector67 has indicated they may make some of these. (The existing cylinder has too narrow an opening for the lens that gives a long focal length. Its beam is so wide that it hits the lip and heats up the cylinder.)
Payment-measuring timer.
One way to do this would be to measure current to the machine and time how long it runs at laser-firing power. It would be good to put a button on the timer that would re-set it to zero.


Payment box.
Greg Smith made it.
Laptop desk.
Standing desk built by Dustin White & Ted Hansen.
Aperture in the chassis, through which to thread the blue USB cable with a grommet.
Instead, we discovered an exit under the machine and threaded it through that. Matt Arnold used sugru on the side of the standing desk for a place to attach the end of the cable when unused.