Laser Cutter - Bumblebee

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Laser Cutter - Bumblebee
Laser cutter 110212.jpeg
Name Bumblebee
Zone Laser Cutter

Owner i3Detroit
Make Model Jinan G. Weike / WKLaser LC1280
Part Number
Date Acquired 2012-09
Storage Location B side
Authorization Required Yes
Status Departed
Value $6500
IP Address
MAC Address ec:fa:bc:00:99:36
Power Requirements 240V Single Phase
Documentation The setup manual, File:OPERATIONAL MANUAL OF MACHINE xin USB.pdf is worth reading, if only for a laugh.

Inside the cutter, a Leetro MPC6515 control board coordinates the motors and laser firing. Its documentation is freely downloadable.

Other References


This is one of the two nearly identical laser cutters in the space. They have 1200mm x 900mm beds and 150 watt tubes. This one is named Bumblebee because it is yellow and black, as compared to Wolverine, which is yellow and navy blue.


  • You must be authorized to use either Laser Cutter.
  • You obtain authorization by attending 2 training sessions, each with a different trainer.
  • IMPORTANT -->> To obtain training contact an authorized trainer. Kirsten, Alec, Matt H and Terry hold monthly classes, see i3 calendar for times and ticketing information. Andrew, Mike, Matt A, and Roger hold ad hoc classes, contact them directly by email or text.<<--IMPORTANT
  • List of Trainers is at bottom of page HERE.
  • Each training session will take a part of an evening. And scheduling issues mean that members reasonably able to come to i3 should expect to be able to schedule both sessions in about 4 calendar weeks.
  • i3Detroit asks that users donate $0.25 per minute or $15 per hour that the beam is active. This is to replace consumables, especially the expensive bulb. There is a wooden donation box.
  • A reservation system is currently used for Wolverine. Bumblebee does not. The reservation system is HERE.

Laser Materials List


Get material that will fit on the bed of the laser cutter, which is 3'x4' (optimal cutting area 34" x 46"): 4 feet wide from left to right, and 3 feet long from the front to the back. Your piece must be able to fit on the bed itself, because the bed will lower to put the surface of your material in focus. However, in case anyone needs to know the whole interior of the bay for some reason: there is 51 inches of clearance between the two rails the gantry runs on (the same width as the machine's bay door). 51 inches is also the measurement from the front lip to the back wall of the machine, but the door itself takes up 3/4 of an inch of that.

General Instructions

Time-of-cut Checklist

  1. Make sure there is nothing obstructing the path of the laser head toward the right rear of the working surface if the head isn’t already there.
 It will move there as soon as you turn on the laser.
  1. Press the silver power button on the laser, and wait for it to boot and auto-home.
  2. The chiller, laser exhaust fan, and air compressor should all turn on when the laser turns on. You should hear the chiller beep and the noise of the exhaust fan. (If this does not happen, see “Steps for manual override” at the end of this list.)
  3. Ensure the exhaust blast gate is open on the back of the laser cutter. Slide the door all the way open (toward you).
  4. If the other laser is not in use, close the blast gate at the back of the other laser to increase the exhaust flow.
  5. Place material (square to edge of honeycomb or gantry).You can also run the head left / right and watch the red dot to see if it moves parallel to the edge of the material. Adjust alignment as needed.
  6. With the D-pad, jog the head over to center of material.
  7. Look for fogging or damage to each of the three mirrors. This may require a light to see the mirror in the focus turret. While looking in there, look for specks or fogging of the lens.
  8. Check the mirrors for debris, and clean if necessary. ‘’’ONLY’’’ use lense cleaner and microfiber lens cloths to clean mirrors. Paper towels will ruin them. If you are unsure, ask someone for help.
  9. Press "Z" to enter the mode to raise or lower the bed.
  10. Set the focus with one of the acrylic manual focus gauges.
  11. Press "Z" again to exit Z mode. (ESC will not exit this mode)
  12. Make sure the yellow manual air valve on the wall is open (parallel to the pipe).
  13. Make sure "Blow" is enabled in the Cut or Engrave options dialog in LaserCut for each layer in your design. (Next to power and speed.) For cutting, use "Always blow". For engraving, use "Blow".
  14. Download your design from LaserCut software to the laser cutter.
  15. With the D-pad, jog the head to start of your cut. Remember that the blue dot in laser cut tells you where the laser assumes you have placed it.
  16. Keep one hand over the emergency-stop while using the "Test" button to check boundaries.
  17. Lift the fire extinguisher and set it back down. This verifies that your muscle-memory knows where it is.
  18. Close the hood, if it's open. The laser will not fire if the hood is open.
  19. Press "Start".
  20. ‘’’DO NOT WALK AWAY’’’. See the writeup of Thinkhaus's laser fire for why.
  21. When the laser cutter finishes, observe the elapsed time on LCD and put money into box.
  22. Remove all material, scrap, and cutouts from the laser bed. Please leave it clear for the next person.
  23. Press the silver power button to turn off the laser cutter. The chiller should automatically turn off. The exhaust fan should also turn off if the other laser cutter is not in use.
  24. Since the air compressor is shared across the whole space, it will not be turned off automatically. Check to make sure that nobody in the space is using anything that requires compressed air. If not, then turn the air compressor off with its physical power button.

Steps for Manaul Override

In the unlikely event that there is a problem with this automation system, there are manual overrides in place to turn everything on.

  1. The air compressor can be turned on with its physical power button.
  2. The exhaust fan can be turned on via a black and orange box with a white button on the wall next to Cyclops labeled “Laser Exhaust”.
  3. The chiller can be turned on with the small black button on the white “Sonoff” module that is on the top front of the chiller.
Example of a correctly focused setup

How to use the manual focus gauge

The manual focus gauges are in the laser cutter box. They are small L-shaped pieces of acrylic with "69mm For use with 63mm lens" engraved on them, corresponding to the 63mm focal length lenses currently installed in the laser cutters. To check the focus, place the gauge on the surface of the material you are cutting. The underside of the nib should rest against the top of the knurled fitting, as shown in the pictures to the right.

To re-cut the manual focus gauge, or to modify the file for a different lens, use the File:63mmLensGauge.dxf (DXF file) or the File:63mmLensGauge.ecp (ECP file).

Maintenance Info

Each of the three mirrors is calibrated by loosening and tightening thumb screws like those shown here.


Calibrating the three mirrors keeps the beam aimed through the center of the lens, which improves beam efficiency.

We have a small wire crosshair in the small laser equipment bin on the laser work bench. It attaches in front of a mirror in the path of the beam, and has a slot to hold a slip of paper. Use the gantry to move the lens assembly to the four corners of the bed. In each corner, fire the laser beam into a piece of paper in the crosshair. The differences in these four pieces of paper will show you the direction in which the mirror's angles need to be adjusted. Use the thumb screws to adjust the mirrors. Observe the resulting change by repeating the process of firing the beam into a paper.

Cleaning the laser head

If speed for CUT in 1/8" MDF falls below 20,then check the focus and have a trainer clean both mirrors and lens.


  • Use alcohol from the laser box and cotton ball.
  • The convex lens side goes toward the laser.
  • The capture ring tool is in the white box.
  • Use tweezers for removal of o-ring.
This ammeter should normally read "40" while the beam is firing at 100% power, along a straight path, in Cut mode. (It will not do so in Engrave mode because it takes the average instead.) If it does not read "40", there might be a problem with the power supply, or power is rate-limited in the software.

Power and Speed Rankings

TW- I have noticed that the laser seems to lose power over time. To better get a handle on this I am going to start running Cut Rankings. Every time I use the laser, I will make a test of small squares on the 1/8 mdf, which is usually around as scrap, for cutting at 100 power. They will be staggered at speeds of I will put the results and date. If others could do this to we might start to see what we need to do. If these settings are outdated, do your own test cuts as too low a speed produces a lot of smoke.

  • Cut means fall out / Popout means req'd push to release / No Cut means not seperable
  • 6/2/13 1/8 MDF 5 CUT 10 CUT 15 POPOUT 20 NO CUT
  • 6/9/13 1/8 MDF 5 CUT 10 CUT 15 POPOUT 20 POPOUT
  • 6/10/13 1/8 MDF 5 CUT 10 CUT 15 CUT 20 POPOUT
  • 6/11/13 1/8 MDF 5 CUT 10 CUT 15 POPOUT 20 POPOUT
  • 6/12/13 1/8 MDF 5 No CUT 10 NO CUT 15 NO CUT 20 NO CUT
  • 7/31/13 1/8 mdf 30 cut 33 cut 37 popout 40 popout
  • 8/6/13 1/8 mdf 20 cut 23 cut 27 cut 30 popout
  • 8/12/13 1/8 mdf 20 cut 23 cut 27 popout 30 nocut
  • 11/14/13 1/8 mdf 12cut 20 no cut
  • 11/14/13 1/8 mdf AFTER Cleaning 20 cut 25 cut 30 popout

Sources for Replacement Parts

Sector67 suggested part #NP1190-150

Damage Prevention

Be very careful when removing the emergency stop, because it homes itself during every power-on. So, be sure the lens head is free. If the table is so high that the head is stuck in the honeycomb, open the lower doors of the laser, manually pull the belts on the screws so that the bed goes down. After this, this procedure will have to be reversed, measuring the distance from both sides of the bed to both sides of the gantry.

Coolant failure will destroy the laser, so each time the laser is used, squeeze the coolant tube to ensure that the alarm would go off. (The tubes on Bumblebee may be too rigid for this to work.)

Be sure the exhaust is on, or the smoke gathering in the machine will damage the mechanics, the optics, and any nearby humans.

Never laser-cut polycarbonate. It is highly flammable, and will produce toxic, highly corrosive smoke. Also do not cut plastics containing chlorine. Acrylic and delrin are currently the only known-safe plastics.

Before cutting something with an reflective surface, consult a user who is qualified for training or maintenance.

If material catches on fire, hit the emergency stop, yell "fire", and use the fire extinguisher mounted to the front of the laser. Pull the pin, and spray carbon dioxide gas in a sweeping motion over the flames. It just dispenses carbon dioxide gas, not foam. This will do no damage. It's just loud.



Power won't come on, or shuts off during use.
Check the other items on the same line, such as the laser computer or the overhead light. If they work, make sure the laser is still plugged in. If the power is off to the whole line, the breaker box is located in the back corner in the wood shop. Flip it back on, and you should be good to go. (This is a known issue, and a more permanent fix is being discussed. Until then, apologies for ruined cuts)
When running TEST I get a SOFT STOP message on screen and no test.
That usually means your cut runs off the laser table. Check your origin point on the file and where you have the laser head starting. Sometimes it means that Logical Origin is set to ON which places your cut off the table, no matter where you have manually set the laser head.
How can I turn off Logical Origin?
To Cancel Logical Origin use the keys on the Control Panel on the Laser and the Control Panel Display.
  1. Hit ESC 3 times.
  2. Hit the RETURN key (the one with an arrow that goes down and to the left). This should highlight the current file name.
  3. Hit RETURN again. This should pop you to the Logical Origin screen.
  4. Hit Right Arrow until the field Cancel Logical Origin YES is highlighted.
  5. Hit RETURN.
My Test doesn't start where my laser head is and I have turned Logical Origin off
  • Make sure to check the IMMEDIATE box and save before Downloading AND turn off Logical Origin to allow the origin to be the manually set position of the laser head.
  • This could also mean your cut is running off the table, or close to the edge.
It takes several minutes or infinite minutes to compile in LaserCut
I have had this happen with some (but not all) DXF files from OpenSCAD. Open the dxf file in CorelDraw and then save it as dxf. It will "clean it up" and you compiles will now be very quick. I have no clue what is happening.
When cutting 1/8mdf through it takes 100% and slower than 20 speed.
Check Focus. If problem persists have trainer clean lens and mirrors. DO NOT attempt cleaning if you are NOT a trainer.
When downloading file to laser cutter, no file appears in the DownLoad window or on the laser cutter
Your file is too big (some combination of actual size and complexity of design) to be transferred via the cord. You can download your design directly to the laser cutter via USB flash drive.
  1. In the LaserCut Download window, choose "Export file" instead of "Download Current"
  2. Find the files, a .mol and .txt and put them on a flash drive. They don't need to be the only files on the drive, but probably should be the only .mol file
  3. Plug the flash drive into the laser cutter USB port. The port is located on the right side of the laser cutter, about 2 feet off the floor near the front edge. (someone should add a picture of the port location)
  4. The file will be downloaded automatically- it might take a while to download, but it'll give you the progress as it goes.
  5. Proceed as normal- you should see the name of the file in the menu as usual.
The laser head moves through the design, but the laser doesn't fire!
  • Laser power setting in LaserCut should be above 17.
  • Check the air nozzle to make sure it isn't knocked out of whack and blocking the laser path. Check the mA meter just above the control panel. If it jumps up around 10-40 mA, then the laser supply is firing and just getting blocked
  • Make sure the chiller is on (safety interlock)
  • Make sure the door is all the way closed. The door interlock uses a small magnetic sensor on the front right bezel into which the door sits when closed. The magnetic sensor requires a small gap between it and the magnet. If the door requires re-alignment, TELL A TRAINER. DO not try to fix it yourself, just let someone know to re-align it so you don't make it worse.
The laser turns on but doesn't start up. Screen says "System is starting. Please wait."
  • Let the zone coordinator know that this happened.
  • There is a problem with the laser cutter's mainboard firmware. It probably needs to be reflashed. Instructions for how to do this:
    • There is a white USB drive labeled "Bumblebee Firmware" in the laser maintenance drawer. ONLY USE THIS IN BUMBLEBEE
    • Turn the laser off.
    • Insert the USB drive.
    • Turn on the laser.
    • Wait 2 minutes.
    • Remove the USB drive.
    • Restart the laser.
  • It should start up correctly now. If not, tell the zone coordinator.


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.
Another way, used at other spaces, is to use the "blow" output contact from the controller, which is meant to trigger the air-assist, in case bottled gas is being used for special cutting.


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.

Authorized Users and Trainers

Trainer Name Certified Date
Matt Arnold 2013/08/20
Roger Slykhouse 2013/08/20
Terry Wynn 2013/11/20
Amelia Meyer 2013/08/20
Mike Fink 2015/02/20
Matt Huber 2013/12/03
Lewis Dennison 2018/09/11
Alec Beardsley 2016/03/11
Kirsten Hellmer 2017/12/15
User Name Authorized By Date of Most Recent Training
Kevin Flory Devon Truscott 2013/08/20
Jamie Burdeski Devon Truscott 2013/08/20
Mike Fink Devon Truscott 2013/08/20
Marie-Therese Enga Devon Truscott 2013/08/20
Eric Merrill Devon Truscott 2013/08/20
Brian Wennberg Devon Truscott 2013/08/20
Jessica Rowland Devon Truscott 2013/08/20
Amelia Meyer Devon Truscott 2013/08/21
Jim Kemp Roger Slykhouse 2013/08/22
Brace Stout Devon Truscott 2013/08/23
Derek Kuschel Devon Truscott 2013/08/23
Steve Nowicki Roger Slykhouse 2013/08/26
Greg Smith Devon Truscott 2013/08/20
Devin McPherson Nate Bezanson 2013/09/07
Adrienne Johnson Devon Truscott 2013/10/22
Thomas Shui Terry Wynn 2013/11/07
Matthew Huber Nate Bezanson 2013/12/03
Rob Lifton Nate Bezanson 2014/02/04
Joe Bender Amelia Meyer 2014/07/19
Matt Gardeski Amelia Meyer 2014/08/22
Ken Siegner Nate Bezanson 2014/09/14
Lewis Dennison Nate Bezanson 2014/10/27
David Henry Nate Bezanson 2014/12/19
Justin Triplett Mike Fink 2013/08/20
Konrad Brown Mike Fink 2015/03/03
Brad Tarratt Mike Fink 2015/04/03
James O'Dell Mike Fink 2015/05/24
Alec Beardsley Matt Arnold 2016/03/11
Matt Arnold Roger Slykhouse 2013/08/20
Terry Wynn Roger Slykhouse 2013/11/20
Roger Slykhouse N/A 2013/08/20
Sean Work Matt Huber 2018/01/11
Ben Seiber Matt Huber 2018/01/11
Drew Jackson Kirsten Hellmer 2018/01/21
Carlos Sola Kirsten Hellmer 2018/01/21
Gary Grzebienik Kirsten Hellmer 2017/01/21
Carlos Sola Kirsten Hellmer 2017/01/21
Alex Vincent Matt Huber 2018/04/12
Tom Nardone Mike Fink 2017/3/15
Alicia Chatman Matt Huber 2018/06/14
John Coggeshall Matt Huber 2018/06/14
Ari Schweyen Matt Huber 2018/09/12
Peter Botros Kirsten Hellmer 2018/09/15
Arthur Mize Lewis Dennison 2018/12/17
Mark Furland Mike Fink 2019-02-03
Evan Allen Mike Fink 2019/01/19
Matthew From Mike Fink 2019/02/12
Brian Maynard Kirsten Hellmer 2019/02/02
Kam Watson Lewis Dennison 2019/10/10

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Note: Authorized users and trainers for Bumblebee are also authorized on Wolverine.