In the wake of working with support on some alignment and media detection issues, they wanted me to clean all the optics and send pictures. Being that my machine is only a week old, left me with this question… “How often do you clean the optics?”
Around every 40 hours of operation, or when I can see the lid camera needs it. In the first two years, probably 4-6 times.
It really depends how you are using it. Lots of heavy engraves will require much more frequent cleaning.
and what materials you use. some materials (like MDF) generate a lot more soot and can be “stickier” than others.
Since this is a question for the membership and I don’t think you actually intended to open another Support ticket, I’m moving it out of Problems and Support.
As for how often I clean, if I’m using a lot of MDF (e.g. draftboard) I clean 'way more often, probably every few jobs. It’s not super likely that yours were gunked up in only a week, but it still needed to be ruled out before moving on to more invasive / expensive options.
I cut a lot of MDF. My rule of thumb is that if the head glass (the shiny round window on the left side) doesn’t look perfectly clean it’s time for a wipe down of the two windows plus the lens. I want to avoid any chance of heat accumulation. The internal mirror I clean MUCH less frequently.
It also depends on how closely you hew to the “enough power to barely cut through” line. Less power is less flashback, but you’re also susceptible to incomplete cuts if you accumulate even small amounts of smut.
I ride that line very closely, so sometimes if it’s been a minute and I don’t feel like cleaning, I’ll knock my speed down a notch or 5 to compensate.
In your case, they probably just want to get a baseline, so it seems reasonable that they are telling you to clean it regardless.
yeah, i think the “hey, my normal settings aren’t quite cutting thru any more” is my queue that i need to clean. sometimes i’m proactive when i know either it’s been a while or i’ve engraved some gooey stuff (a lot of my walnut tends to be pretty gooey), but it’s usually a cut that’s not making it that makes me stop and clean. i’m very up and down in usage, so it’s hard to use a time frame for me.
Since the smoke is cleared to the left by the exhaust, I have noticed the first of the optics to show accumulation is the gantry window under the left side glass.
I use a small flashlight to look closely for any deposits there. If I can see anything at all I clean both windows and the lid camera. Every 6 or so of those cleanings I inspect the lens and mirror in the head.
I find the lid camera lens to be the worst, followed by lower side of main lens - by using clean area of wipe on each optical surface.
So visual inspection of lid camera is typically a good indicator of need to clean.
All good rules of thumb - clean the camera, clean the lens.
Kinda like save the cheerleader, save the world.
Heroes? Show on NBC a few years back. Wasn’t that good but had a good tagline…
I generally clean the optics anytime I clean the top - I like seeing the cuts as they go so that’s my heads up
Cleaned mine once about 3 weeks ago. I’ve been using it since Dec 2018. Even then it wasn’t very dirty. It really depends on the materials you burn I guess.
Totally this, I can go for weeks without cleaning on Baltic birch but a couple hours of cutting wool felt made a mess.
wipes are cheap, and cleaning the optics takes about 2 min. I clean mine regularly, probably every few uses, maybe two hours of actual cut time. I’m mostly doing plywood, MDF, and hardwood. The way I figure it, is that I would rather get in the habit of doing it more often then is needed, and have consistent results, rather then having something not completely cut through because of a dirty lens. I’ll go through and fully clean everything, tube etc, every 4 or 5 cleanings. maybe more often if I see enough build up to warrant it.
Quick question - wipes then? I use wipes to get it clean, but always find I want to “polish” it when done, so I have a micro-fiber cloth next to the GF in a plastic bag that I use to do this once I use a wipe. I think it gets it cleaner, but I could be wrong. Anyone else use a finishing towel / cloth / something?
All I know is I was cutting an inlay last night for a cabinet I’m building and did it first out of proofgrade draftboard to see how well it’ll fit before I cut expensive walnut (FYI - remember kerf!) and noticed the laser cutting all of the way through in most parts, but would barely cut the masking off of the back. 20+ minutes later of weeding it was done, but the cut pieces should have fallen out.
After cleaning the lens, no problems whatsoever. That was a noticeable difference to me, much so that I’ll clean more often, especially after engraving 6 “You’re snazzier than you think you are” signs in draftboard.
i don’t think there’s any real value in polishing. and, if that microfiber cloth has any dirt at all on it, you risk scratches. use the wipes as directed and you should be fine.
I use the Zeiss wipes exclusively, for my GF, eyeglasses, and small telescope eyepieces. Found out many years ago that lenses and first surface mirrors get dirty but it’s only the cleaning that causes scratches. Ruined hundreds of dollars in lens from the cleaning process.
The wipes come out of a sealed package free of dirt and crud. After a short while of using any other cloth very small bits of crud will be embedded in the fibers. I would be dragging that material across an easily damaged surface. Even when using the wipes I lightly wipe the dirt off and only then use an unused portion of the wipe for additional cleaning. If careful to not get oils from fingers on the cleaning wipe, the surface should become crystal clear after the liquid evaporates.
Only reason I use the Zeiss brand wipes is because the were $3.97 for 100 at my local Walmart. Other single use wipes intended to work for camera lenses are probably just as good.
What he said.
If you’re having to use something in addition to the wipes, you’re not using them correctly - and risk scratching the delicate surface coating.