LC40 challenges and tips

Submitted to Product Talk

Hey there fellow makers,

I have had an LC 40 for about two months now and have put almost 200 hours on it.  It has become the work horse of my company.  I really dig this machine, especially having started out on a $500 generic Chinese machine.  That said, it still has it's quirks and challenges.  I wanted to start a conversation about what I have discovered and raise some questions.

Challenges/Questions
  1. Cutting issues - When I started using this machine, it cut through 3mm wood stock like it was butter using the stock settings.  Not such much 200 hours later (see the attached picture).  There are some troubleshooting steps you can try out when this starts to happen, which I've outlined below, but I am wondering if I am missing something because at this point I am having to run cuts twice on 3mm stock to get a clean cut.
  2. Software issues - I am a software developer in my 40 hour and I cannot begin to cover the frustration your web interface brings to me.  I'm not sure this is the proper forum to highlight some of the challenges I have encountered with it, so I'll leave that alone.  It is certainly usable and I have made hundreds of items using it, but I would really love it if I could just use regular laser controller software like LightBurn to manage my projects.  Is that doable?
  3. Focus rail locking screw slips - This is more annoyance than problem.  When I adjust the focus for a piece, I have to really crank the compression screw down or the focus will slip and drag the air nozzle across the work.  That could (should?) be redesigned to be more of a latching rather than compression device.

Tips/Tricks
  1. Resin build up - This is my bane.  After about 10 or so items, I have to clean up the resin that is collecting under the grid or I will start getting little explosions that knock around the cut pieces as the laser ignites the resin.  I typically use Goof Off and some scrap wood as a scraper.  I have been told that CLR also works, though I haven't tried it.
  2. Total lack of cutting - As mentioned above, after a while, the laser won't cut as well.  This generally isn't a problem with the machine, although after a LOT of cuts, the laser tube will wear out.  Fortunately, Dremel has made it easy to replace that at home.  Aside from that, though, most of the time, the lens and mirrors just need to be cleaned. I use cotton swabs and plain rubbing alcohol.  Another issue I have seen is after several continuous hours of cutting, the water in the cooler is very hot.  A few (no more than 6) ice cubes seems to work there.  Just make sure you don't overflow the chamber and, of course, you don't want to freeze the tube or cool it too rapidly.
  3. Some pieces just don't come out - Even in pristine condition, sometimes the laser doesn't do a completely clean cut.  This can actually be caused by density differences in the wood and resin.  In those cases I keep a scroll saw in the shop near the laser cutter and use it to carefully cut the pieces that don't come clean.  I have an inexpensive one from Harbor Freight that works well enough, but I just discovered the Dremel Moto-Saw and I am very much intrigued.

I hope these help. I look forward to the feedback from other LC-40 owners here, as well.