Jig-method alignment failure


#1

Well this is frustrating; the jig-alignment method has failed me.

I have an order for 50 anodized aluminum business cards, engraved on both sides. I did 25 of one side last night, using a cut-in place cardboard jig. It took a while, but worked fine.

This morning I was going to do the other, more complicated side. I had a fair idea that they would not all be able to process at once, so I tried to plan around that. I had set up an svg with an array of 25 cards (a 5x5 grid), with the art for each side split into 1 color per row to be able to turn off rows of art, and cutlines in a different color.

That was too much to process, so I removed two rows. 15 cards processed into the GFUI. Looking good.

I turned off all the art steps in the gfui and sent just the cutlines to print on cardboard. That worked, but I didn’t get all the way through the cardboard, so I ran the job again to get all the way through. The cut lines fell exactly where they were supposed to on the second pass. Looking good.

I put one aluminum blank into the newly cut jig, and started a test engrave, to be sure of alignment before running more at once. Problems occurred. So I deleted another row and tried again. 10 cards actually ready to print. Looking good.

Ran the test on one aluminum blank. Alignment is close enough. looking good.

Put ten blanks into the jig, started up the print, looking good on the preview screen…

But not actually aligned anymore.

A quarter-inch jump to the left, and 5 blanks ruined.

Gorramit. They were already going to take way too long, and now I’ve wasted some of the time that I put in last night. Guess I’m going to try and finish these one at a time, and probably won’t offer them to any more customers, at least until I can be sure I’m not just wasting materials.

November 2 2017- Approx 11:00 am - Mac OS Version 10.11.6 - Chrome Version 61.0.3163.100 - GF PRO


#2

That’s a drag. :frowning:


#3

If you left it open overnight and didn’t close the file, there’s a known bug that will throw the alignment off after extended periods of time.

(Don’t know if that’s what caused this, but it might have had something to do with it.) :confused:


#4

I turned off the GF overnight, and cut a fresh jig this morning from a newly uploaded file.


#5

Ouch. I have managed 3 almost 3 hour engraves back to back and had no alignment issues on each of the token jobs. Only loaded the file once, but had to reposition the file on the new material.


#6

uh oh, very interested in this.


#7

Ahhh! So the alignment is actually off on the machine. Try rebooting? Sometimes when they have recently pushed through an update (and they’re doing one sometime this week) you have to reboot it to get things squared away.

If that doesn’t fix it, Support can sometimes tweak something on their end and fix it. :slightly_smiling_face:


#8

Hmm… I would have thought this approach to be bomb-proof. Very interested in hearing the resolution on this one. :thinking:


#9

Nothing like your token job, but I’ve done a lot of two-sided stuff using the jig-method, and this is the first time it has failed for me.


#10

Of course it would manifest for a paying job. In my universe there would also be a deadline involved…


#11

So between your test black one, and the multiple tags, it got misaligned. Did you restart the machine in between? I’m going to guess you did not. I mean, why would you.

Okay, my thinking is the head or gantry got touched when you were setting up your production run. That would cause the alignment to now be completely off from where it thinks it is. You might not have even noticed that, say, maybe the jig touched the head or gantry as you were setting things up. The software wouldn’t be the wiser, so the preview would look perfect, just like your test black one did. I feel pretty confident in this answer and I think if you did it all again, careful not to touch the head/gantry, it’ll work as you expect.


#12

Okay, so had this issue or a similar one last week or the one before. I was going back and forth between non-:proofgrade: materials and :proofgrade: materials, of different thicknesses and not always adjusting the focus length. A cardboard jig was part of this process. When I got to what I wanted to engrave in the jig I made sure my focus length was correct for the material (a different focus length than the cardboard) and there was a misalignment.

I was using more than two materials, including some proofgrade, and there were a lot of steps. I remember thinking I should document this and then realized, I can’t precisely recall what I did. And I didn’t have time to try and reproduce it and reduce it to the simplest set of steps.


#13

I guess it’s possible that I bumped the head or the gantry… but I don’t think I did. I’m working in the lower part of the bed, pretty well away from where that stuff is parked in the upper left. I was working gently to avoid any chance of moving the jig, even though it was held down with magnets.

@caribis i had cut a jig yesterday that was a pinch too small to cleanly drop the blanks into and pull them back out, so when I was setting up my file this morning I made the cutlines just a pinch bigger than they had been. I was also using a thicker cardboard today than I was yesterday. The difference in thickness was exactly the thickness of the aluminum blanks, so i dropped the cutouts from yesterday into the jig this morning before placing the aluminum blanks; the tops of the blanks were at the same level as the top of the jig (which was 0.150" according to my calipers.)

Logged out of the app, turned off the machine. Delivered 9 business cards to my client, with low-lpi engraved art on one side (my initial tests, which were to test for engrave-power consistency across the range of colors, and which were aligned just fine, but at half the desired lpi). Told him the other 41 were indefinitely postponed. Will try again later.

download


#14

And he’s still your client? Lucky.

I might have said “No worries. The laser manufacturer had a bit of a glitch in their cloud so I wasn’t able to run them off yet. Should be able to do that tonight.” But “indefinitely postponed” says to me “I’m out of the business of engraving tags.”


#15

Not at all worried about losing him as a client. I didn’t charge for the 9 cards, and they are only a minor part of the work that I am doing for him. But it looks like the time it takes to engrave these (including “processing” time and “preparing your design” time) is not worth the amount that I can charge for them as business cards, so I may very well decide not to offer them to anyone else.
I might consider punching a hole, adding a jump ring, tripling my price, and calling them key ring/luggage tags.


#16

I could never have a successful business making things. I ruin at least three for every one that I get right. There’s a reason I’m in software!


#17

What a bummer. I have used almost this method many times with great success. I usually cover the bottom the bed in copier paper with a small piece of tape at connecting points if I’m using a space larger than 8.5 x 11. Then I upload a design that has a precise box the size of the thing I’m engraving or a perfect outline. I run the outline at (maybe 15 key chain blanks at a time) at 500/1 manual score at .01 thickness. Then I place each blank directly on top of where the score landed. I adjust the height for whatever I’m making and then engrave. I find this SO much easier than using cardboard. I started out with cardboard and the fit is usually too tight or large enough that the object can move around a little and doesn’t perfectly center. Also it moves when you try to place all the items. I usually tape the edges of the paper down so it doesn’t move. I pretty much only use copier paper for jigs now.


Cut is larger than preview
#18

That could actually be your problem. Same thing happened to me when running a large batch of coins. I was doing a whole sheet of proofgrade and had it too close to the bottom of the machine, when it ran the first line of the engrave at the very bottom it hit something and shifted by about the same amount as yours. Try staying as far away from the bottom as possible, it might bring you success.


#19

Well, I made a new array of six cards (3 rows of two, centered in the 12x20 artboard), cut a new jig, and ran one pair: success.
Currently running a batch of six… looks good so far, but will take an hour to complete (one side).


#20

batch of six came out fine. Running another. Wish I knew if my issue was a bumped gantry, bumped jig, an un-noticed click in the UI, the placement of my art in the bed, alignment drift, gravitational shift, or a cloud-processing issue. But it’s working now.