Frequently Asked Questions

Our FAQs are largely service focused and are designed to support current owners of ULS systems. In most cases, the answers provided will help you better incorporate DLMP® (Digital Laser Material Processing) within your organization. If you have questions that are not answered here or require additional clarification, we encourage you to contact an authorized ULS representative. Please note, solutions that provide digital laser material processing are commonly referred to as "laser cutters", "laser markers", and "laser engravers". In reality, all ULS laser systems are capable of all processes.

What is the significance of laser wavelength?

ULS laser sources are available with output wavelengths of 9.3um (CO2), 10.6um (CO2), and 1.06um (Fiber laser). Many materials react differently to each of these wavelengths. By offering laser sources at different wavelengths, ULS significantly increases the flexibility and capability to laser process a wide and diverse array of materials. Each wavelength is suited to a different range of materials, processes and applications. When connected to a ULS laser system, ULS laser sources communicate with the Universal Control Panel (UCP) or the Laser System Manager (LSM) to let the software know what laser source is currently installed. This is important in that the software can then display the materials that can properly utilize the unique characteristics of each laser source wavelength in the Materials Database.

What is the difference between Raster and Vector motion?

When processing a design file there are two distinct ways the laser system handles different elements of the design. Raster motion (overlapping left-to-right/right-to-left movement of the optics carriage) is used for laser engraving, marking and photo imaging. The ULS laser system control software parses design files for bitmap images, text and filled areas, interprets these elements as raster objects and automatically calculates raster processing patterns for the laser system.

Overlapping left-to-right/right-to-left motion creates a filled rectangle, shown below:

Vector motion is used for laser cutting, scoring, and some marking. In these cases the laser system’s X-Y axis motion system simultaneously moves in two dimensions along the path to match the shape being processed. The ULS laser system control software parses design files, interprets thin lines as vector objects, and calculates 2D vector paths for the laser cutting, engraving, and marking machine.

Do ULS laser cutting, engraving, and marking systems comply with safety regulations?

All ULS laser products (for laser cutting, laser engraving, and laser marking) comply with all pertinent United States and European Union government laser safety and product safety regulations.

Laser Safety

Laser safety standards are well established and relatively harmonized internationally. The two most prevalent version of these harmonized laser safety standards are 21 CFR 1040.10 and 1040.11 in the US and EN60825-1 in Europe. These harmonized standards establish four broad classifications of laser safety for products. The classifications range from Class 1, in which the laser energy is fully contained within the laser system and the operator is not exposed to any laser energy, to Class 4, in which the laser system does not have containment provisions and the operator can potentially be exposed to high levels of laser energy. To process materials in a Class 1 laser system, the material must fit completely within the laser system enclosure.
All ULS products are designed to meet Class 1 safety requirements for the material processing laser(s) meaning they are designed to fully contain all laser energy used for material processing. To do this, ULS products employ laser hardened enclosures, along with labyrinth seals and redundant hardware interlocks on all doors and access panels. Class 1 laser products are considered safe for use by the general public as long as all safety precautions are followed as outlined in the manuals. There are no restrictions on the sales of Class 1 laser products. No safety gear or special facility accommodations are needed to operate a Class 1 laser system.
All ULS laser systems are also equipped with a low power red diode laser for aligning materials to be processed by the material processing lasers. The red diode lasers a similar to the laser pointers used in presentations and are considered safe for public use. ULS laser systems are labeled as Class 2 laser systems due to the presence of the red diode laser for alignment, but meet Class 1 requirement for the material processing laser(s).
Some ULS laser systems (ILS and XLS) can also be operated in Class 4 mode in order to process materials that are too large to fit completely within the laser system when equipped with an optional Class 4 conversion module. This module bypasses the interlocks on the side doors to these laser systems and adds additional safety features required only on Class 4 laser systems, such a key switch to prevent unauthorized use of the laser system, an emissions indicator to warn when the laser is active, and a mechanical shutter to block laser energy from entering the material processing area. Operation of the laser system in Class 4 mode puts additional restrictions on the operators and owner of a laser system including the such as the requirement for a trained laser safety operator, laser safety gear for the operators to wear and the designation of a restricted area for the laser system to operate in (see white paper on Class 4 conversion module for more details). Many of these safety measures are outlined in ANSI Standard Z136.1 “American National Standard for the Safe Use of Lasers” or in equivalent standards available in most other countries, such as the European Standard EN 60825-11. Other safety measures may be required by state and/or local authorities, for example, the Regulation BGV B2 on laser beams of the German Employer’s Liability Insurance Association. It is the responsibility of the Owner of a Class 4 laser system to understand and adhere to these laws.

Product safety

ULS laser systems are designed and tested to meet product safety requirements per the harmonized global standard for computer peripherals UL/EN608950. This includes electrical safety and EMI certification per Class A standards. Where required, this process includes third party testing by certified testing laboratories.

What are laser safety classifications?

Lasers are rated according to internationally harmonized classifications ranging from Class 1 (highest safety rating) to Class 4 (lowest safety rating). ULS laser systems contain a CO2 and/or fiber laser source in a Class 1 enclosure that does not permit human access to laser radiation in excess of the accessible emission limits of Class 1 for the applicable wavelength and emission duration. Because of this, the laser system is safe to operate without the need for any specialized laser safety equipment beyond those already built into the laser system. A visible Class 2 red laser pointer is used to aid in the positioning of material. Due to the presence of this red pointer, ULS laser systems are classified as Class 2 overall. With a Class 2 laser the blink reflex of the human eye is capable of preventing harm so Class 2 laser systems are considered safe to use without additional safety equipment under normal use circumstances. However, one should not attempt to stare into the red laser pointer or view the red laser pointer with optical instruments such as binoculars, microscopes, mirrors or reflective surfaces. ULS offers a Class 4 Conversion Module allowing for the ability to process lengthy or roll to roll materials. . A Class 4 designation indicates that persons near the laser system may be directly exposed to hazardous laser radiation. Any Class 4 laser system requires the use of a key switch and safety interlocks for operation. Additional safety requirements for Class 4 operation vary from location to location. Additional information on use of Class 4 laser radiation is available on request.

Is it okay to leave a running laser system unattended?

ULS recommends constant supervision of a laser system during operation: an operator should always remain within visual range of the process. This is vitally important to reduce the potential for fire when processing materials with a laser.

What are the site and system requirements to operate a ULS laser system?

ULS laser cutting, engraving, and marking machines require a dedicated computer, fume exhaust or exhaust filtration system, suitable electrical power, and a compressed air source (if air assist is needed for material processing) in temperature controlled facility between 50˚F (10˚C) and 95˚F (35˚C), with low humidity levels and devoid of excessive dust, on an even, stable floor or platform. The optional Class 4 Conversion Module requires additional site preparations. For specific specifications of a laser system, please refer to the Operations Manual for that laser system.

What software can I use to create design files for laser material processing?

ULS systems will process design files printed from a wide variety of programs such as: Adobe® Illustrator®, CorelDRAW®, SOLIDWORKS, and AutoCAD®.

What is Warranty Coverage? Can a Warranty be extended?

A 13-month Standard Warranty covers non-consumable laser system parts on Platforms and Options and a 25-month warranty protects CO2 Laser Sources. Standard warranties can be extended to a maximum term of 5 years.

What are typical preventive maintenance (PM) events?

Each laser system consists of components that will wear naturally during normal operation. Inspection and the eventual replacement of these components is important to preserve the high quality of laser material processing one comes to expect from a ULS laser system. Typical preventative maintenance includes replacing the timing belts, bearings, idler and drive gear for the X-axis motion system approximately once every 1 to 2 years. Every 2 to 3 years the belts, bearings, idlers and drive gears should be replaced on the Y-axis motion system. While this is a general guide to preventative maintenance, there are many factors that can increase or decrease the time between preventative maintenance events such as: quality of exhaust system, material processed, duration of operation and routine maintenance (cleaning) performed.

I recently purchased a new laser system. Where can I get the drivers?

The drivers are accessible on the CD or flash drive that was delivered with your laser system. Additionally, you can download the latest version through the upgrade feature in the Universal Control Panel (UCP) or Laser System Manager (LSM) or on the ULS website at: Software Downloads.

What is the process for repair or exchange of a laser source?

The ULS Laser Exchange Program is designed to provide expedited replacement of all ULS CO2 laser sources, with little to no downtime. Rapid Reconfiguration makes installation of the replacement laser quick, easy and tool-less, with no service call or training required. In most instances laser sources are shipped overnight to most locations and are both field-installable and pre-calibrated. If you would like to schedule a laser repair or exchange, use Find a ULS Representative to locate the closest authorized representative or Contact Support to contact ULS directly.