General Questions

This is a common issue.Epilog's default settings for cutting through 1/4" wood aren't correct. If you're experiencing poor quality cuts (charring, gouging, or even fire on the workpiece), try bringing the power setting down. The best quality cuts on 1/4" Alder with the Epilog 50w Laser have been with the following settings: Speed - 10%; Power - 60%; Frequency - 1000Hz. Also make sure that the laser is correctly focused on the workpiece. Autofocus won't get it right on thicker materials. Use the focusing attachment to make sure the focus will be in the middle of the material.

Related: Advanced Laser Operator, Beginner Laser Operator, Epilog Laser Cutter-Engraver 24 x 18, Intermediate Laser Operator

3D file formats

The 3D printers at MELD can accept either .STL or .OBJ file formats. The file should be watertight. This means that there are no holes or inverted faces in the model. To fix these issues either change the design in the program you used to create it or use a tool like Netfabb (there's a free, basic version)

3D design programs

There are many different 3D design programs available and some of them are completely free. The main thing to keep in mind is that they need to be able to export the design as a .STL file. These are some of my favorite free programs:

Related: 3D Printing, 3D Printing 1, 3D Printing 2, 3D Printing 3, Tentacle-Style Pen Holder, LulzBot TAZ 3D Printer, UP! Plus 2 3D Printer

Which design program should I use for the laser?

For the best results, use a vector graphics program. There are three that are the most popular:

Laserable materials

materials table here

 

Prototype your designs

Practice makes perfect 

Before deciding to put your final design into the laser, make sure to try out a small-scale prototype first. This will help familiarize you with the design process and can help you understand how to design for different materials and projects.

Print out the design on paper

This is one of the fastest and easiest ways to create your first prototype. Printing your design is the best way to spot sizing errors, check that holes are big or small enough, and see if the overall design is like you think it will be. 

Vector (cut) vs. raster (engrave)

Vector

A vector cut means that you are trying to go all the way through (cut) the material that your using. Some materials that vector cut include wood, acrylic, cork, and paper. 

In the design stage, any part of the design that you want to be cut needs to have an outline (Illustrator), path (Inkscape) or curve (CorelDRAW) with a line width of less than .0001". For example, in CorelDRAW, the Hairline width would be the best choice. This is how the laser knows to cut instead of engrave.

Raster

A raster operation simply means that the laser is engraving the material. Think of it like a printer. If you are engraving at 600 dpi, that means that the laser will make 600 dots in one inch, 600 rapid pulses into the material. This is what you would use if you are trying to engrave an image, text, or a shape into the material.

Avoid overly detailed vector cutting

At the laser's focal point the beam has a width of .005". However, depending on the material and material thickness, the kerf (material vaporized by the laser) can be a bit wider up to 2mm (.008"). Keeping that in mind, very fine details may not vector cut well.

Laser bed size

The laser can hold workpieces up to 24" x 18" x 8.5". There is a drop down front door, so it is possible to accommodate a larger workpiece, though the engraving area is limited to 24" x 18".

Related: Advanced Laser Operator, Beginner Laser Operator, Epilog Laser Cutter-Engraver 24 x 18, Fraternity Paddle, Intermediate Laser Operator, White/Blue Acrylic Sign

Think about what it's like using a gym membership. It wouldn't be fair to the other paying members if you were using the bench press for hours at a time. Same thing with the laser cutter. It's an amazing tool, so it's important to make sure that everyone that wants to use it will have an opportunity to do so. If you have a product that you'd like to make and need more than 1 hour/day or 5, then you'll have to pay an hourly fee to gain additional access to it. Please email me if that's something that you're interested in doing.

Related: Epilog Laser Cutter-Engraver 24 x 18

Some of the equipment at MELD can be hazardous to the operator or damaging to the equipment if not operated properly. Examples of this include the laser cutter, 3D printers, metalworking lathe, etc. An introductory Safety and Basic Use class (included in your new member fee) will educate you on how to behave around the equipment, but will not be able to give you enough hands-on time to properly operate the equipment. This is for your safety and for proper care of the equipment.

Related: Grizzly Metal-Cutting Bandsaw

Membership Questions

To use the free 3D printing that is included with your membership you simply need to add your 3D model to the print queue! Prints in the print queue will print using the available material thats already in the printer. If you'd like to change the parameters for your 3D print (quality, speed, layer height, etc.) then you will have to provide your own 3D printer filament. 

Related: Tentacle-Style Pen Holder, 3D Printing, 3D Printing 1, 3D Printing 2, 3D Printing 3, Blender, Heatsink Vase, LulzBot TAZ 3D Printer, Printerbot Jr, Slic3r, Summoner Mech, UP!, UP! Plus 2 3D Printer

Absolutely! There are, however, some restrictions. For the time being children under the age of 18 will not be allowed around hazardous equipment such as the lathe, mill, bandsaw, circular saw, etc. If you would like to add a child or other family member to your membership, it will be an additional $25/month. MELD is not, however, a babysitter, and you will be responsible for the actions of the additional family members on your membership. 

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Contacts

Business Hours

  • Monday-Friday: 6pm to 10:30pm
  • Saturday: 10am to 9pm
  • Sunday: 12pm to 8pm

Become a MELD Workshop Member

We have the tools to help you turn the idea bouncing around in your head into something real. MELD Workshop is a place with the tools and equipment, classes, and materials that you need to make it happen. Membership includes access to things like:

  • 3D printers with free 3D printing
  • 50w laser cutter/engraver
  • Metal mill/drill
  • Metal lathe
  • Electronics design and testing equipment
  • Hot-air rework station and soldering irons
  • Lounge area with free coffee, comfortable seating, and WiFi provided

"It's the workshop you wish you had! With tools and equipment like 3D printers, laser cutter, electronics tools, and a members-only hang-out room, it's the place to go to turn your ideas, inventions, and weekend aspirations into the real deal."

Founder, John Schneider

Become a Member Now