How To Clean the Laser Cutter
Warning and General Rules
The laser cutter is a potentially dangerous machine. It is very easy to start fires and it can also produce dangerous fumes (e.g., chlorine) if used with improper materials. Everyone must receive training prior to use of the laser cutter. The cutter must also remain under constant supervision while in use.
Never cut PVC, or other chlorinated plastics (Lexan and PC board are also strongly discouraged). PVC in particular will give off chlorine gas, which is not only highly corrosive to the machine, but also dangerous for any nearby people.
Never leave the machine unattended while it is running, regardless of how long you need it to operate.
If fire starts inside the machine go through the following steps. Open lid to stop laser from working, and turn the machine off. Put an acrylic sheet over the burning material to smother the fire. If none of this works, use the small CO2 extinguisher next to the laser cutter to put the fire out.
Vacuum / Wipe Down
Using the front panel controls, with the laser cutter on, lower the Z table down. Open the front panel of the laser cutter, and carefully remove the vector table and set it aside. Raise the Z table back up to the zero position.
Using the soft-brush extension on the end of the vacuum hose, gently vacuum up all loose material on top of the laser bed and under it. Avoid getting the brush in the grease at the base of each lead screw. If you get any grease on the soft brush, wipe it off thoroughly and clean it to avoid contaminating optics afterwards. Vacuum the sides and back of the laser cutter, paying special attention to the exhaust ports where air and smoke are removed.
With a soft cloth made damp with a bit of Simple Green solution, wipe down the rulers on the laser bed, as well as on the vector table. Simple green does a fantastic job of removing organic residue, and should remove the carbon deposits. Continue to wipe down the laser cutter being careful to avoid the optics. Use a separate clean cloth to wipe down the X and Y axis and remove dust and debris.
Clean and Focus the Lens
The lens should be removed from the machine (with the three thumbscrews) and checked for material deposits at least once a week. Pull out the lens and mirror. Clean them with a cotton swab and the cleaning material found opposite of the computer ROLL the q-tip, and DO NOT SWIPE. If you are not familiar with the cleaning process (aka have not been trained) please don't attempt it. Accumulated gunk may get burned when the laser is used and will crack the lens. Lenses are >$200 a piece, so it's important to be careful about this.
Martin created a video showing the complete laser optic cleaning process. Please don't attempt this unless someone has shown you how to do this IN PERSON first. The video is meant to be used as a reference guide, or in the worst case scenario, act as a "how-to".