After a few false starts, and a nervous first try, we're finally cutting stuff with our new LS3020 laser cutter! The tiny bubbles problem apparently is quite common with new tubes, and a few capfuls of Milton sterilising fluid soon sorted them out (thanks guys on the LaserScript forums for the tip!)
So now we're safely(?!) cutting acrylic with the laser, it's time to get familiar with the NewlyDraw software and find out which power and speed settings work best with which materials.
At the minute, we're trying on clear 3mm acrylic.
The laser cutter is whizzing little 10mm circles out no problem, at about 12mA. Now we just need to find out what all these settings in the software actually do!
After selecting the items to cut out and from the file menu, hitting ENGRAVE, the following dialogue appears. From here you can jog the head around or set it to it's origin (we found that -80,0 put us in a good starting point, at the top left of the sheet of acrylic) and even choose optimum cutting paths (more on that later, we're still trying to walk, let alone sprint off into the distance!)
After hitting "start engrave" a second dialogue appears
This has more of the same - a second chance to jog the head around - and some speed/power settings. We're not quite sure which of these relates to what: whether the speed setting is for jogging the head, or for cutting. To date, changing these values doesn't really make much difference: the laser head goes off on it's merry way, making short work of the 3mm acrylic, no matter what speed/power settings we put into this second screen. We're guessing that these need to be changed somewhere else, and we're probably giving it too much juice or not moving as quickly as we could, for the given power level or something.
Either way, it's another visit to the LaserScript forums to double-check we're doing everything right. It's exciting having a laser cutter. And a little bit scary!