Overview

Just like any other machine tool, the FabLight must be cleaned regularly for optimal performance. Lack of regular preventative maintenance (PM) will lead to damaged machine components, a reduction in part quality, and machine downtime.


Cleaning the entire machine takes on average 10 minutes to complete and is easy to do with a single person. The recommended PM schedule is shown below.



Item No.


Activity

Light use (< 4 hours each day)

Heavy use (> 4 hours each day)

Per shift

Day

Week

Month

Quarter

Per shift

Day

Week

Month

Quarter

A. FabLight Machine

1

Clean the nozzle tip 


Day




Shift





2

Vacuum the machine interior, including the cover, gantries, filter panels, and part slide



Week



Shift





3

Wipe encoder strips



Week




Day




4

Clean cutting head



Week




Day




5

Check external air filter and empty if necessary (follow manufacturer’s instructions)



Week




Day




6

Vacuum rotary area*



Week

Month



Day

Week



7

Empty dust collector




Month




Week



8

Empty PM vacuum




Month




Week



9

Clean green window with microfiber cloth




Month




Week



10

Empty cleanout drawer




Month




Week



11

Apply WD-40 to the rails





Quarter




Month


12

Grease the drawer slides




Month




Every 2 Weeks


13

Inspect the cutting head window





Quarter




Month


B. Compressor - check manufacturer’s instructions for specific PM schedule

1

Drain water from compressor tank


Day




Shift





2

Drain dryer



Week








3

Drain prefilter



Week








4

Drain particulate filter

See manufacturer’s PM guide






5

Change compressor oil




Month







*Choose rotary vacuuming frequency based on use percentage. Rotary area still needs vacuuming if not used to maintain usability.


Even if the machine does not appear to be dirty, over time metal particles can build up; for optimum machine performance you must adhere to to the recommended PM schedule even if the machine “does not appear to be dirty.”


Items required

Tool

Notes

Vacuum

A secondary, dedicated vacuum should be purchased for cleaning.


The machine comes with a dust collector for fine particles. This vacuum can be used for PM if the machine is used sparingly, but it will need to be emptied frequently and disconnected from the machine every use.


We recommend the VacuMaid Garage Vac PRO for cleaning, along with a telescoping attachment and soft brush attachment.

VacuMaid Garage Vac PRO ($339) https://vacumaid.com/product/garage-vac-pro/


Bags can be purchased separately from the VacuMaid site or on Amazon.

Telescoping attachment

These attachments come with the VacuMaid Garage Vac PRO, but can be purchased separately on the VacuMaid site.


The brush must be SOFT, ideally made from a natural fiber. Cheaper, hard plastic brushes can potentially unseat cables and scratch the machine.

Soft brush attachment

Microfiber cloth or microfiber duster

For keeping the window clean. Do NOT use paper towels or the vacuum brush on the window. It will permanently scratch it.

Scotch-BriteUsed to clean nozzle tip of splatter

Clean shop towels

Used to clean encoder strips and cutting head.

WD-40

For keeping bearings lubricated and rails clean.



Recommended vacuum

The vacuum we recommend is the Garage Vac PRO from VacuMaid, available at this link: https://vacumaid.com/product/garage-vac-pro/



The Garage Vac PRO has a number of features that make it ideal for machine maintenance:

  1. Large volume - Doesn't need to be emptied very often.
  2. Uses bags - Easy to clean and replace. Bags can be purchased for about $1/each.
  3. Wall-mountable - Can be affixed to the wall next to the machine so it is always easy to locate in your shop.
  4. High-quality attachments - The telescoping attachment is durable and made of metal. The soft brush attachment is delicate enough to not damage or scratch the encoder strips.
  5. Easy to empty - Only requires two latches to open it and access the bag.


Step by step guide (video)




Step by step guide (photos)



https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1qzVsBUaEHd2wnPywusQnCzcyIafZ6EoemPOxfOn4jIk/edit?usp=sharing

A PDF version of these instructions is available at this link: Click to view instructions as PDF


Side note: Why manual cleaning is required

The laser cutting process works by melting material with the laser and blowing it through the cut with an assist gas. This melt and blow process creates both fine vaporized metal particles and larger particles. The smaller airborne particles are removed by the dust collector, while the larger particles settle in the machine and must be cleaned out manually.


Most of the large particles are created during the pierce process which is the start of a cut. The pierce typically fires the laser at a high power. The laser melts the metal from the surface down into the material until it is melted all the way through, at which point the assist gas blows the metal through the back. The result is a hole is punched through the material. During the first part of the pierce, metal particles splatter up above the material, and during the second part, metal particles are blown down into the machine.


The metal particles that remain in the machine vary depending on the type of metal cut. You may see:

Aluminum    White or light colored particles

Magnetite    Black particles

Oxides     Brown particles


The encoder strips in the machine are magnetic and attract magnetite. They are delicate and need to be wiped by hand, using clean shop towels.