Simple lessons that my students and I can follow

I am a woodshop teacher who has been asked to introduce computer operated equipment into my shop. The school purchased a laser engraver for the classroom. I am not very good with computer programs. Are there simple lessons that my students and I can follow to copy a picture from the internet and engrave it onto wood. Thank you John

Yes, YouTube is full of them. However, you will have to construct your own lesson plan. Consider yourself a pioneer in the teaching area.

More detail in your bio about your machine will help when you come back with how-to or maintenance questions.

Actually, lasering a picture is the most difficult thing you can start with :slight_smile: There are so many factors to be considered for lasering and you need to master them all to have a decent result with pictures.
I recommend starting with text and vector shapes (logos etc). This will be much easier.

LightBurn features a “first project” tutorial: Your First Project - LightBurn Documentation

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As a teacher myself… I’d suggest you break this up to at least two areas or subjects.

  1. how a 2d/3d machine works.
  2. what effect the tool (laser in this case) has on the material.
  3. combining the first two

Basic CNC type operations. All 2d/3d machines work based on a coordinate system… This is one of the most weak areas of understanding and causes the most trouble. In an overview it’s very simple… but rather confusing for many people… especially when you add another axes.

A laser produces a emf field which is absorbed, reflected or passes through material and/or a combination of these. If it passes through the material, there will be no effect.

How a laser actually works on the material… which laser frequency does what to what types of materials. Generally speaking, ssl (diode) and co2 work well on natural materials, fiber for non natural materials. A co2 actually works well on acrylic, not a very natural material.

Keep it simple, but get the basics down, after all it’s just another tool.

Good luck

:smile_cat:

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Master the “simple” coordinate system and everything else is downhill from there. Still my biggest headache.

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Really important distinction between a RASTER image (.jpeg,.png etc) and a VECTOR object. As mentioned above, images are the hardest thing for me to produce. Vector objects are where you need to start when you are importing items.

Basic shapes can be manipulated very easily in Lightburn. In my experience, people love to be able to customize their items. You may consider getting some light plywood and having them make a name plate or wall hanger with a name, saying or logo. What age level are you instructing? I presume High School.

EYE PROTECTION will be your biggest concern in the classroom. Most value lasers will ship with a dark green eye protection - which is the wrong wavelength for diode lasers. Their light is a brilliant blue/purple. You need red/orange glasses rated to filter the wavelength of your laser (~400-500nm)

Fume extraction will be your second biggest issue.

This is a 30 second build. It could be a full hour instruction for new users.

Hi John,

It looks like you’ve gotten some good recommendations already, but I wanted to chime in as a former tech teacher.

First, safety. JimNM already brought up eye protection and fume extraction. In your bio, you list that you have a Longer RAY5. This is an open frame diode laser without an enclosure, so it’s important to note that everybody in the room needs to be wearing appropriate eye protection the entire time the laser is running. For typical class sizes, I’d expect that to cost more than the laser itself.

When I was teaching woodshop, I had a small room with a separate exhaust fan that was closed off from the main shop area. If you have a similar room, you might want to consider putting the laser in there. There’s a tradeoff in terms of having to supervise students in separate areas, but it would make the laser safety side of things much easier, and allow your other students to continue working with tools without dark laser safety glasses impairing their vision.

In terms of lesson content:

Getting good image engravings takes practice. Text or logos, like Misken suggested, would be a lot easier. Alternatively, if you wanted to integrate it more closely with your existing coursework, you might have them sign their work with the laser. I’m happy to go into more detail, but the way I’ve done this is:

  1. Student signs a piece of white paper with a sharpie or other very dark marker.
  2. I take a picture or use a scanner to bring the signature onto the computer as an image. I’ve even done this with a built-in laptop camera.
  3. Student uses LightBurn’s image tracing to find the edges and turn their signature into a vector shape.
  4. Engrave the signature onto the finished piece (but practice first on scrap material.

Also:

If your administration is pushing you to have cross-disciplinary lessons, this is a fantastic way to incorporate math standards as well.

I hope this helps!

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Thank you all for your help. I have the laser up high in an enclosure to protect students. Also stop some of the dust from the wood shop getting on the laser. It is in front of an exhaust fan but I ordered an AC window vent kit for it. I am still waiting for the computer department to get me a computer for it. Schools take a long time to get things:)
image

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Just be aware that such an enclosure might not be enough to comply with safety standards. I can only speak for Germany, there such a setup would be highly illegal. You need a class 1 laser and a person who has a “laser safety” certificate (I don’t know the international term). In your case, I would check with authorities if it is allowed to use that laser in a classroom.