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Laser Room


  • Freeside

This laser cutter (also an engraver) was obtained for the space by Adam Greene.

Raul, Ronnie, and Josh have worked extensively on getting it under control by an Arduino, replacing its power supply, and testing controls such as limit switches.


For general use by members after they have completed an appropriate training course. Treat this equipment as if it were your own cleaning items off of the top of the machine and around its table after usage.

Usage Fee

The laser is a delicate machine with several consumable parts. In order to maintain the laser, Freeside asks for a $5/hour usage fee from members using the laser. These funds will be used to repair the laser, replace tubes, lenses, or other items that wear out, and when there is a surplus, make upgrades.

Laser usage fees should be paid to the Treasurer via payments@freesideatlanta.org with any of methods of payment accepted for dues. Please indicate that the payment is for laser usage for proper accounting.


The laser cutter is a CNC (Computer Numeric Control) machine capable of the following (See the Laser Library for more details):

  • Cutting
   * paper
   * cardboard
   * plastics up to 1/2" depending on type
   * craft foam
   * plywood of certain thicknesses depending on number of layers as well as what type of bonding glue was used
   * other stuff I haven't yet tried
  • Engraving (vector, but NOT raster)
   * cardboard
   * plastic
   * wood
   * glass
   * dark stone
   * ceramic
   * leather


This laser uses a CO2 gas tube and excites the gas through application of a 25KV voltage across the tube. The tube emits infrared light at a frequency of 1090um. This is invisible to the human eye. Most materials absorb photons with this frequency very readily.

Laser beams do not directly burn or melt material. When absorbing laser light, material moves to the plasma state, bypassing conversion to liquid or gas. However, this plasma is very hot, and material near the plasma can absorb heat and change to liquid or gas, and, if flammable, burn.

Although the beam is invisible, it is very powerful, and can easily damage your skin, clothing, other items, and your eyes.

Do not, under any circumstance, power the laser cutter on unless:

  • the E-stop on the machine is on
  • the machine controller is attached
  • the operating system is completely booted
  • Mach3 is running and in the foreground
  • the E-stop in Mach3 is engaged

Do not apply the laser to any material containing chlorine. The laser cutter plasmafies materials it aims at. Materials containing chlorine compounds will release elemental chlorine, which is poisonous, and will damage electronic components of the laser cutter.


  1. 45 watt tube
  2. work area:
  3. controller: Arduino Uno R3 with xxx software installed.

The laser cutter is supported by several pieces of equipment outside of its own enclosure:

  1. tube coolant
  2. air assist
  3. fume extractor
  4. stops (movement, lid,temperature)

Mechanics and optics


The current tube is 45 watts


The dimensions of the work area are:

X: 14 inches

Y: 9 inches

??? How to control Z - how to measure correct distance of laser emitter from work material


  1. Test power level and feedrate on a piece of material like the one you intend to use.
  2. More isn't always better in regard to power.
  3. More isn't always better in regard to assist air.
  4. When watching the laser cut/engrave wood, wear sunglasses, cutting goggles, or a welding helmet. The light coming off of the material is extremely bright.
  5. Never look directly at the item being cut without at least one material between you and the beam: no peeking in the vent holes without protective glasses
  1. Periodic tune-up #

Quick Reference

  • The focusing lens has a XXX mm focal point.
  • For cutting, the bottom of the carriage should be ~xxx mm from the surface of the material you intend to cut.


Laser.PNG Eyesight Damage Risk

Crush.png Crush and Pinch Risk

ElectricShock.PNG Electric Shock Risk

ElectricShock.PNG High Voltage

Flammable.png Flammable Risk


Goggles.PNG Eye Protection Required

Unplug.PNG Unplug After Use

Usage Class Presentation

This file is the presentation deck used by Freeside to train users about how to use the laser cutter through 2015.

Right Click Here to Download PDF

This file is a presentation to supplement the one above, given January 2018.

Right Click Here to Download PDF

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