As the creative director for 3D Universe I am no stranger to seeing what laser cutters are capable of. While I have watched these machines in action in person and on videos and have spent a lot of time writing about them through my job here, I have never had the opportunity to own or operate one, let alone set it up myself.
When my boss, Jeremy, announced that he was going to ship the new FLUX beamo to me and have me set it up and start using it so we can give some honest feedback and see how user friendly it is, my mind immediately went into a mix of “Oh my gosh….oh my gosh…I get to play with a laser cutter for my JOB!” and thinking about Val Kilmer as “Chris Knight” from “Real Genius” shooting a laser beam into a house and filling the entire thing with popcorn… (Sorry – spoiler alert.)
I mean…really…what could go wrong?
Unboxing and Set-Up of the FLUX beamo Laser Cutter
In this video, you will get to experience me getting overly giddy about pushing the button and making the FLUX beamo laser cutter “do things” along with witnessing someone who has never in their life set up or used a laser cutter go from trying to figure out what those little tiny tools were for… to cutting something with a laser for the first time.
It is my hope that if there are others out there who are a bit nervous about using this technology themselves, they will find some encouragement in seeing someone else who has no idea what they are doing, walk through the process and come out in the end with no singed eyebrows or homeowners insurance claims to fill out.
The FLUX beamo is a great entry-level laser cutter for the newbies in the world who just want to make cool stuff and get a feel for how this technology can work for them!
Easy to Follow Instruction Manual
I am a visual learner and have struggled my entire life with feeling incapable of understanding how to do something by just listening to someone tell me how to do it or trying to read instructions that do not include a visual element.
The idea of setting up this FLUX beamo laser cutter on my own by simply following along in the user manual…was honestly a huge source of anxiety for me for nearly a week before I finally busted out the box cutter and opened it up to start filming. I was terrified that I was going to have to film myself looking “too stupid” to follow directions and ultimately fail at getting the machine to even turn on.
It turns out, the User manual for the FLUX beamo was in fact designed just for people like me who need visual aides to understand where things go, what to do with them, and how to do them.
There was never a time during my assembling adventure where I felt like I wasn’t capable of doing it on my own and was able to completely understand where things were supposed to go.
FLUX did an incredible job of making this user manual a visual learner’s dream. By the time I got to the step for putting the duct hose on the back to connect it to the FLUX Beam Air Fume Extractor, I was feeling very confident that I was actually going to be able to get through this assembly and set up on my own.
I have no doubt that parents with their kids or teachers and their students could work together on setting this up in their homes or classrooms with no problem or confusion whatsoever.
There was never a time during my entire process where I had to stop and re-read the instructions and scratch my head and say “Wait…what?” There was never a time where I had to stop and take a breath out of frustration for not understanding something that I “should be able to figure out.“
I am also pretty impressed that the instruction manual was so easy to follow and clear that I never once uttered a swear word. (Grandma would be so proud and I don’t have to chew on a bar of soap now!)
Setting Up the Network on the FLUX beamo
While the assembly and physical set up of the FLUX beamo was a great experience, I was mostly terrified that I would get the “Technical” part wrong and fail miserably.
I am one of those people who previously had no idea why there are “cookies in my computer” and how they got in there when there isn’t even a disk drive anymore…let alone setting up a NETWORK where my computer is going to talk to this new machine and tell it what to do.
Thankfully, FLUX made sure to walk me through that in their user manual that was full of step by step visual instructions as well as an awesome home screen directly on the machine that made it very clear what you are supposed to do and how.
Using the Beam Air Fume Extractor
When Jeremy suggested that he was thinking of sending me the FLUX beamo laser cutter to test out for 3D Universe – I was really excited to add that to my new set up. (Can I just say that I think I have the best job ever?)
We were trying to figure out how I was going to vent all of those toxic fumes out of the garage.
I happen to live in the woods out near a mountain in the Pacific Northwest and here in Washington, it rains …a lot. Having to keep the garage door open to vent everything outdoors 10 months out of the year where we have consistent blustery days, a leaking sky, and not so warm temperatures most of the time was going to make this a bit of a challenge.
Our garage has no windows that actually open. So my only option would have been to open the garage door a ways and shove the air duct out the bottom and hope that the rain (and our ugly giant slugs) didn’t invade.
Jeremy surprised me with a FLUX Beam Air Fume Extractor system so that I can not only use the laser cutter without having to open the garage door, but I don’t have to worry that those toxic fumes are going to turn those slimy slugs into mutant monsters that will chew my face off in the middle of the night while I sleep!
It was really easy to set up, as it literally came all ready to go with each of the needed filters in place, a few extra top filters for replacing later, and the hose clamp I needed to attach it.
Thanks to the gift of the FLUX Beam Air Extractor there will be no lungs full of cancer or mutant slugs overthrowing my garage for me!
Stop! It’s LASER TIME!
After I set up the network and followed the instructions for how to set up the laser to cut my first little piece of wood (and try to contain my excitement), I was ready to fire up the FLUX beamo laser to start my cut and etch with the sample test image that came with the free software.
I love how easy this software is to use. It is simple to understand right away and I have no doubt that kids of all ages are going to be able to use this to make their creations come to life.
First, you make sure your laser is focused in by setting down the focus bar to just gently tap the top of your materials, dial in the laser, close the lid and then go into the software to click on the little camera icon and drag it across the top of where the material is on the bed so that it can take a photo.
Once you have the image up on the screen, you simply drag your design over the top and position it where you would like it to go and either use the parameters that are already set or adjust them as needed once you choose which material you are working with.
Then you export and hit start and …suddenly, like magic, you are laser cutting something!
It etched and cut beautifully and was fascinating to watch!
Choosing a Geeky Name for my FLUX beamo Laser Cutter
I think one of my favorite parts of the setup, was realizing that I could give my new FLUX beamo any name I wanted.
Maybe it is the mom in me, but I spent a good couple of hours a few days prior, researching “baby names” that had anything and everything to do with “fire” or “creativity.”
At first, I was thinking about naming it “Charlene” or “Charlie” as a nerdy Stephen King fangirl who loved reading “Firestarter” growing up, but didn’t really want to jinx myself and name my laser after a character that can set things on fire with her mind and ultimately burns the house down…
Turns out, there is a really cool Greek god named Hephaestus.
Hephaestus had many powers to offer. He was the god of fire, the forge, blacksmithing, metalworking, and masonry. Hephaestus constructed the armor and weapons for Olympus, as well as constructed many accessories that helped other Greek heroes in mythology. This mythology suggests that his workshop was underneath a volcano, which he used as a forge.
Basically – he liked to burn stuff and make cool things for his friends and family.
Seems like the best name for my FLUX beamo…ever?
We call him “Phae” for short.
The FLUX beamo Happy Dance
I have to admit…I kind of cried a little once the laser started etching that first little test token on my new FLUX beamo.
It felt amazing to realize that I had accomplished this task on my own and I was indeed capable and smart enough to do something like this without relying on anyone else to help me.
I did it myself and I didn’t fail.
It may seem like no big deal to most people who are around 3D printers, laser cutters, power tools, makerspaces and high tech equipment all the time, but for those of us who aren’t, it’s sometimes a challenge and at times even terrifying.
Getting to do something “as simple” as getting a laser cutter connected to a duct hose, set up a network to make it talk to a computer, and set up materials and a design to cut with a laser might seem like a very easy task for many. For people like myself, however, who have never set up or used these kinds of machines before, it is pretty overwhelming to even think of doing such a thing.
For all of you “non-techy” people out there, the homeschool moms and dads, the teachers, the students and the everyday artists and creative folks who have always wanted to try using a laser cutter in your class, home or for your business but are intimidated by machines like this – this FLUX beamo is the perfect starter laser cutter.
I am really looking forward to seeing what I can do with this machine!
Stay tuned for some materials testing videos and art projects as I learn how to use this machine and try teaching some of my housemates as I go!
For more information on the FLUX beamo or to check out the Beambox or the Beambox Pro versions – please visit our shop at shop3duniverse.com!
Now…let’s go burn stuff! (On the laser cutter. Not… with your mind. Safely. Ahem.)