Rebuilding The Big Laser

OK - If you haven’t heard. The Big Laser is Toasted.

On 8/12/19 a fire started in the Big Laser Cutter. Fortunately, the fire was contained to the Big Laser itself.

No one was injured, though there was a lot of nasty smoke in the building.

The fire did cause a lot of damage to the Big Laser and made a mess of FabLab. It could have been a lot worse. T

Much of the Laser is still good. Over the last two days a list of needed parts has been developed. Upper end cost estimate for parts is between $2000 to $2500.

Many parts are now competitively supplied on AliExpress. The original maker has been contacted for possible parts.

Money for parts is only a part of the problem. Rebuilding this laser is going to take a lot of work.

Hive13 is a Do-ocracy - Nothing gets done unless you step up and do some work.

Hive13 does not have any paid staff. Hive13 only gets better when Members Do Something.

You Might Ask - WHY should I get involved? Answer: Because Hive13 is an all volunteer Member Supported organization.

You Might Say - I don’t know anything about Lasers. - You can learn about Lasers by participating in the rebuild. You will meet interesting people.

You Might Say - I don’t have much time. We will break down tasks to small bits. You will find something that you can do.

Reply to this list or email me directly.

We need help with

  • Cleaning

  • Hardware

  • Electrical

  • Software
    First tasks up are cleaning, photographing, documenting and disassembling the equipment.

If you know Lasers and or electronics, your help in sourcing replacement parts is welcome.

There is now a Laser TODO list on the wiki Laser_TODO#Things_we_need_to_do_-

Happy to help.

Count me in.

I can come out Sat or Sunday.


I’ll be glad to help however it may be a good idea to make a Meetup of it so we can schedule it on our calendars. I have had limited time to get to the Hive over the last month so if I can schedule it that would make it easier.

Laser Fire Pictures

Wow. Much more thermal damage than I originally thought.

Looks like a total disassembly and reassembly.
Hopefully the tube and mirrors are OK.

As was discussed at meeting Tuesday, the tube is trash because the dry chem is likely inside the open end of the tube.

Mirrors and lenses are shot. The Tube is a big concern. I’m in favor f ordering a replacement right away.

We cannot test the tube until the whole thing is back together. Then if it’s bad we wait another 6 weeks.
Many mechanical parts are just needing a complete tear down and careful cleaning. That cleaning isn’t easy.

There is a link to a spreadsheet with parts required on the same google drive as the photos.

I will update that spreadsheet with more links to suppliers as they become clearer.

Laser Fire Pictures

Electrically, it doesn’t look like there was fire damage in the lower cabinet. However, there were a lot of wires with power that burned up.

We will not know what if any damage occurred from shorts until the soot is cleaned off, the controller and other burnt parts are replaced and the wiring harness is redone.
I’ve asked GWeike for parts availability and pricing. I also asked for a wiring harness and wiring diagram. Who knows what they will give.

If ya don’t ask, ya don’t get.

Somehow, my gut says we are going to be hand building the wiring harness. A great opportunity for members to learn to crimp on connectors.

We still need more volunteers to dig in.


Would it be worth considering replacing rather than repairing?

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐ Original Message ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

We have an estimate of $2500 to repair. It seems new lasers go for between $800 and $50,000 If someone wants to do some research on replacement options that can happen in parallel with the initial disassembly and physical cleanup of the existing hardware.

I’ve asked GWeike for a replacement quote.
Just so you know, the door to FabLab is not wide enough for the laser to fit through. We tore out the door frame and part of the wall to get this one in.

The original project to by the Big laser is here Start 01/01/2015 End 07/21/2015
In 2015 this laser cost $6485 Delivered.

So This wont work for the Z rods but I do have an 2.5L ultrasonic cleaner that could come in handy to clean some of smaller parts. If we think that will be helpful then let me know I can bring it down.

I was REAAAALLLY hoping for the security cam photos of the fire (anonymized, of course, if applicable). Just interested in flames.

Dude, dusty tubes are a bad idea, you’ll need a new one, definitely. That was an efr F4 tube – it matched the machine real well.

To tell you the truth, after looking at the photos, this doesn’t look as bad as I would have expected. HV supply looks good. I made a test load for it when we did the last overhaul. It is a big board with a giant ceramic resistor, and some stuff connected with fahnestock clips. Oh hell, does anyone know what fahnestock clips are?!..


An ultrasonic cleaner could be a real help. Is it purely aqueous or
can it handle solvents? I'm concerned with really nasty soot.

I been using it with rubbing alcohol for resin prints. I believe it can handle solvents. I will bring it up tomorrow or the weekend.

I have a large 27-liter (7-gallon) Ultrasonic cleaner that I can lend for the clean-up, I’ll bring it up Saturday. I was just about to put it up on Craigslist to sell but it sounds like you guys could use it first. Lowes has a cleaner called Mean Green which is only about $5 a gallon that works fairly well. You could also use a mixture of water, vinegar, salt and a little Dawn if you want something cheaper. 7 gallons is a lot to fill so if this is too big for you, please let me know.


Looks like Jeff’s cleaner will be alot more useful than mine. Let me know if you want mine as well. And I definitely second his opinion on Mean Green.

Jeff, Daniel,

Please loan us your ultrasonic cleaners. There are both large and small items to clean. I’ve got a couple of jugs of mean green around.

I’ll get it down this weekend. I have it drying from being cleaned up.

Did some digging. We may need to do a bit more to clean up the dry chem material.

Clean Up Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher Residue

Dry chemical fire extinguishers use firefighting agents such as monoammonium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate, and potassium bicarbonate. These leave behind a corrosive powder, so it’s important to clean up dry chemical fire extinguisher residue quickly, especially if it has come in contact with metal surfaces.

  • Vacuum or sweep up loose debris.
  • Spray stuck-on residue with isopropyl alcohol diluted 50 percent with warm water. Let the solution sit for several minutes, and then wipe with a damp rag.
  • To neutralize sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate residue, apply a solution of 98 percent hot water and 2 percent vinegar. After several minutes, wipe the area with a damp rag.
  • To neutralize monoammonium phosphate residue, apply a baking soda and hot water paste. After several minutes, wipe the area with a damp rag.
  • Give the affected area a final wash with soap and water, and then rinse clean. Use fans to help the spot dry quickly.
  • If dishes, cookware, or clothing have dry chemical fire extinguisher residue on them, wash as usual in the dishwasher or washing machine.

Not sure what material was in the one that was used.

Probably best to wipe down everything. I’m a bit concerned about the electronics area stuff.
I should be at the Hive this afternoon.

I’m down here now with my ultrasonic cleaner and my card is not working so I can’t get in. No one is answering the buzzer so I’m locked out. I’ll hang around for a little to see if someone shows up.