I thought I could fit a 48-inch wide piece of material onto the laser’s knife table (removing the honeycomb table that usually sits on top of it). After all, it’s supposed to be a 48×36-inch laser, right?
Actually, no. If you lower the Z axis a bit, the 48″ material can be fit in between the walls of the chamber. But when you raise the Z axis to focus on the material, it hangs up on the lip surrounding the table. This makes a horrifying noise, and very likely screws up the leveling alignment of the table, and could damage the Z axis mechanism.
Try to avoid doing that!
The laser is more accurately described as a 1200x900mm machine. That works out to 47.24″ x 35.43″. And in reality, the X/Y positioning system can’t even quite cover that entire area. It can really do 47.24″ wide, but the Y positioner only spans 35.19″.
And if you have the honeycomb mesh on the table, which you usually will, your material has to stay inside the frame that holds the honeycomb. Those dimensions are 45.875″x34″.
All numbers above are approximate. Leave plenty of margin if you can.
There’s another way to jam up the Z axis by catching on the lip. If you lower the table so that the honeycomb grid is below the lip, and then bump the honeycomb grid so that it’s touching the side of the chamber, when you raise the table again the honeycomb grid is going to snag on the lip.
This can also happen with any material you have, whether or not you’re using the honeycomb grid. If it touches the side, it will snag the lip.
Be careful with the edges when you move the Z axis!
And if you’re stuck with material that’s 48″ long or a bit longer, and it’s not too thick and at least a little bit flexible, here’s a trick you can use to trim it down. Use the honeycomb grid and focus the table first. Now place your material on the table, but allow the right edge of the material to be outside the cutting area. Bring the left edge inside the cutting area, if possible.
Now, decide how much length you can spare to trimming. Mark that spot near the left edge of the material. Position the laser head over your mark, and then move it “up” (+Y) to just past the top edge of the material. You might find it useful to weight down the material near your mark (but not near enough to interfere with the laser head), so it sits flat on the honeycomb grid in that immediate area.
Go into Design View and draw a single vertical line, just a little bit longer than your material is at the point you marked. So, if you have a 24×48 sheet, make your line 24.2 long. Render the design, and vector cut it using appropriate settings to cut your material.
One gotcha with this procedure. Because your drawing is zero inches wide, the software will complain that the laser doesn’t have room to run the job. This would seem to be a bug in the software. Take a deep breath and click Yes to accept responsibility, and it will work just fine. Probably.