Equipment/K40 Laser Cutter

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K40 Laser Cutter
3020 Laser.jpg
Model K40 Laser Cutter
Sub-category CNC
Status Working
Accessories Air-assist, extractor fan and water cooling system
Owner York Hackspace
Origin Purchased
Last updated 13 March 2019 21:55:02
Last updated by Choffee

The laser cutter was purchased 2nd hand by the space in late August 2017. We are still working out the capabilities/limitations and training for this machine, so please consider the below a work in progress. :)


  • Cutting area (W × D) : 300mm x 220mm (usable cutting area TBD)
  • Supported Materials: Laser-ply, acrylic, and others TBD


  • Physical Dimensions
  • Power Supply: 220 VAC, C13

How to use the Laser Cutter

  • Step 1. Don't look at the laser!
  • Step 2. Contact someone to ask for training: please don't use the cutter without training.

It's easy to break the laser cutter, yourself or the space if you don't know what you are doing. The instructions below are for reference only, and a paper copy can be found in the vicinity of the cutter.


The control panel on the laser looks like this:

laser cutter controls
Control Panel


  • Before starting, make sure the laser switch is off (the red cover is closed), the emergency switch is off (pushed down) and the laser current is at 0 (beyond "Off")
  • Open the window and put the extraction hose outside
  • Switch on the extension cord at the socket
  • You should be able to hear the air assist pump and extract fans. You might find the air assist pump is unplugged.
  • Check for water flow in the laser (rear hatch); the new cooling pump is very quiet. It's crucial that the water cooling is running at all times: firing the laser without it will fry the laser tube!
  • Turn on the emergency switch using the key. The laser cutting head should move slightly
  • Set the laser current to the correct setting
  • Arm the laser (red missile switch) and use the test button if needed before cutting

Note: If the water temperature goes above 25C please wait till it cools down again before starting a cut. If it goes above 27C Stop your cut as more than this can damage the laser tube.

Note: if you find the water cooling is not running while the laser is on, immediately disarm the laser and do not start the cooling system - the thermal shock may crack the tube


  • Disarm the laser (red missile switch)
  • Set the laser current to 0
  • Push down on the emergency stop switch
  • Leave the water cooling running after cutting, especially if you have been cutting for a while
  • Turn off the extension lead
  • Pull the extractor inside and shut the window
  • Tidy up and sign the record sheet on top of the cutter


Won't switch on

  • Is the emergency switch unlocked?
  • Check the plugs
  • Check fuses in the IEC cord and the back of the cutter

Laser doesn't fire

  • Check the laser current settings: it needs to be >5 to fire.
  • check if the laser will fire at all using the test button
  • Check the lid switches and the connections on the control panel

How to connect

The cutter runs on USB, and we use | K40 Whisperer to control it. Most of us design using Inkscape.


Here are some useful starting points for different materials.

Material Settings
Type Thickness Notes Mode Passes Current (mA) Speed (mm/s)
Laser Ply 3mm This is what the space stocks ( Well Tested) Raster engrave 1 5 150
Vector engrave 1 5 40
Vector cut 2 5 6
Paper and Card Card Thin Card

Vector cut thin 7.5 30
Acrylic 2mm Very thin sample from Vector cut 2 5 6
3mm This is the standard Hackspace stock (Well Tested) Vector cut 2 5 6

A sample from

This is probably the largest thickness that still cuts fine. (Untested but you might need more passes, or slower)

Vector cut 3 5 6

This is the really thick stuff Nat bought. The regular acrylic is 3mm.

A little too thick for our cutter. Pieces need some massaging to remove, and may not do so cleanly. ( Untested)

Vector cut 3 5 6