Next Wave CNC's 20 Watt Laser is a great accessory that adds another level of customization to your products but determining what feed rate and power value should be used with specific material can be a lot of trial and error. The test files at the bottom of this article are intended to quickly determine the feed rate and power value to use with a particular material for both a fill pattern, vector lines, text (True Type and Single Line), and depth of cut with a single pass.
20W Laser Grid layout
The laser test grid engraves in a 5" by 5" area, with an XY datum (start position) of the material center, and Z-zero on the surface of the material. The file will burn the test material in a 5 x 6 Fill grid pattern, a 5 x 6 Vector grid pattern, and the corresponding labels. The Fill grid uses a Hatch Fill, with a 0.01-inch Stepover, and 0 degrees Hatch Angle. The Vector grid and text are set up to "Outline" the vector lines with the pictures below showing the results of these test files burning on MDF.
20W Laser Cut-Through layout
The laser cut-through test engraves in a 4" by 2" area with an XY datum (start position) of the material center, and Z-zero on the surface of the material. The four circles fire the laser at 100% power with the corresponding feed rate in inches per minute to help determine the best cut-through settings for your material.
Pictured below are examples of the grid pattern and the depth of cut achieved on 3/4" thick materials.
|Alder Grid Pattern||Alder Cut-Through|
|Cherry Grid Pattern||Cherry Cut-Through|
|Walnut Grid Pattern||Walnut Cut-Through|
|White Oak Grid Pattern||White Oak Cut-Through|
Running the test file:
1. Save the attached 20W Grid Test.tap or 20W Cut-Through.tap file to a USB Flash drive.
2. Connect the Laser system to your machine. See the 20W Laser Owner’s manual for complete details.
3. Power the CNC system on.
4. Secure a scrap piece of your project material measuring at least 5" x 5" Laser Bed.
a. Mark the center of this 5" x 5" area for the XY Start position.
5. Use the X and Y jog buttons on the LCD Pendant to carefully position a narrow-pointed bit to the center mark.
6. Press 'Zero XY' (Press OK to confirm the change)
7. Raise the router or remove the bit, then using the knob on the laser head, lower the laser head so that it is below the clamping nut or bit.
8. Use the Z-axis jog button to carefully lower the laser head onto the Z-height alignment tool.
9. Press 'Zero Z' (Press OK to confirm the change)
a. Raise the laser head to remove the Z-height alignment tool.
10. Plug the flash drive into the LCD pendant of the system
11. Select 'USB'
12. Select “20W Grid Test.tap” or “20W Cut-Through.tap”
13. Press 'Next'
14. Press 'Start'