Protohaven Member Forum

Policy for long-running laser jobs

So! The current guideline, I think, for a block of laser time is “two hours per day, three times a week”.

a) What do we do if we have a laser job that we KNOW will take longer?

b) What should the volunteer host do if a member, two hours into a large engraved piece, becomes aware* that their project will actually take three more hours? (“I think it will be only another 20 minutes…”)

  • A lot of people may be unaware that LightBurn has a runtime predictor, which you reach by clicking the “iMac-looking” icon in the main menu bar.

I have asked a similar question – how can professional/business members reserve the laser cutters for larger blocks of time or in hours where we are closed? Which requires that we have a new level of membership for people who “do this for a living”.

At HackPGH (shut up jet :slight_smile: I can to use the laser cutter any time it’s free. At Protohaven I have to leave when the shop is closed. Which TBH, is kinda not funny because I have built laser cutters, written safety guidelines for using laser cutters, and called out some really sketchy unsafe behavior by members using laser cutters. I would be using the laser cutter in my garage but I need a new $3K laser tube and need to bill hours to pay for that tube.

One key benefit of pro-level membership is 24/7 access to the shop.

I agree. I got an Etsy order a couple of months ago for three of my tool stands and they wanted to pay for FedEx 2-day shipping to their studio in Korea (architects). So that’s easily 3 hours of cutting time on the 80W laser cutters at Protohaven that I needed to ship within 48 hours.

I didn’t make it to the meeting (two days notice, SERIOUSLY?) or I would have again tried to bring up professional membership.

It could be that I’m the only person who cares about this, which if so is fine. I was just thinking that there are other people who pay their bills doing digifab and that we’d pay a bit extra not to get kicked out before dinner.

Speaking as a safety nerd, however, I don’t think anyone should be able to use the wood-shop or metal-working tools solo. It’s pretty hard to injure yourself with a laser cutter but you can die using the lathe.

Hmm. Interesting point about safety with the Big Grabby Tools. I don’t think it’s appropriate to make a sweeping ban. (Some people will take Pro membership specifically so they CAN make a Pro dollar accessing said tools 24/7.)

While there’s the Pro membership with 24/7/52 access, which is great for long-running or large batch jobs when you know you’ll need >2 hours – what if Jet would like to run a 3-4 hour job before dinner (Jet needs to eat, too)? Can he pay extra $$$ for the privilege of blocking out 4 hours in the middle of the day? Do Pro members get to reserve a longer block because they are Pro members? Will we have to make policy adjustments to accommodate peak/non-peak usage (e.g., 4 hour blocks available only from 10am-4pm)?
Jet brings up a good point about running potentially dangerous equipment at 3am when nobody else is around to help you if you severely injure yourself. Do we need a “Buddy” system? A “Panic” button to call 911?
The only laser time constraint issues I’ve witnessed so far are folks hopping onto a laser without verifying online that the laser is indeed unreserved for the period they’d like to use it. How can we make it simple and fast to check equipment reservations at a moment’s glance? Without going through the laborious process of logging in and going to the equipment reservation section.
Also, it’d be nice to know who reserved a laser (or other equipment), for a variety of reasons. It’s not like it’s a privacy issue.
At least for now, I don’t see a reason to put a 6 hour per week reservation limit on the lasers. If a laser is unreserved for the upcoming hour, say, and it’s 15 minutes prior to that hour, why not let anybody reserve it? Like flying Stand-By.

Michele Dufault, an Yale undergrad who helped write the safety/operations manual, died while working overnight at a lathe. Her hair got caught it in and she was choked to death.

I would probably support a rule for not using machines that can kill you if you’re the only person in the shop, including mills and table saws. It’s the rule for using a chainsaw: You need two people: one to use the chainsaw, one to dial 911.

Wait, so do we already have a “Pro” membership?

I agree that we should be able to see the scheduling plans while we’re operating the laser cutters. If my reservation ends at 1pm and nobody has the machine reserved for the rest of the day I’d like to keep using it.

I also like your idea of a window on reservations – you have to reserve the slot at least N minutes before the start of the reservation.

Hey guys! I’ll preface all this with the admission that there needs to be more info on our website. I added a floorplan, equipment list, and calendar recently, and I’m working on getting more on there.

We do - It’s in beta mode and currently only being used by a few experienced members. This is intended for exactly what you’re asking about - non-peak hours where those making professionally can use the equipment with longer reservations and less competition.

Before Pro Membership moves out of Beta, this is what needs to be nailed down. Current intent is to require (and include) first aid training for Pro members (as well as Volunteer Hosts) so that anyone who is there can help if there is an emergency.

If we do implement a partial buddy system, what tools would require a buddy and how do we clearly distinguish them to members?

Not currently. Based on use patterns from the old shop and others, here’s the current approach to dominant shop use:

Weekdays 10am - 6pm: Optimize for coworking
Weekdays 6pm - 10pm: Optimize for classes
Weekends 10am - 6pm: Optimize for community
Off-hours: Optimize for production

The intent is for Pro members to be able to make 4 hour reservations during off-hours, but right now there is so little competition for off-hours use that it hasn’t been an issue.

When/where was this announced? I’ve been asking for this option since the meetings at Techshop.

The training program for Motorcycle Safety Foundation instructors requires an in-person first-aid/CPR class from AHA or Red Cross.

Maybe because I didn’t know this was even an option. Right now I have a back log of laser cutting I need to do pay for a new tube in my laser cutter (250W tubes aren’t cheap :-). Being able to cut until 10pm on a Sat or Sun or starting at 8am on a weekday would be a big benefit.

Something I didn’t know about until Devin’s post. When was this started and where was this announced? I get email from Protohaven from time to time and I still have the Nextshop channel open on Slack. Do I need to physically hang out at Protohaven (and not bill client hours) to find things out? Did I simply miss a post to the forum?

I signed up for Pro a couple of days ago, still waiting on email/instructions on how this membership level works.

I’d highly recommend calling Devin directly during normal business hours to work out the details. This forum is more a community discussion page, and there isn’t any sort of historical precedent that we as a group can refer you to as a guide. I believe most if not all of the pro members at this point are also volunteer hosts, so they already have keys etc, so you may be blazing a new trail.

That’ll be on my tombstone. That, or “You have died of dysentery.”

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So I have a project right now that is a good example of “I need the laser cutter for maybe 8 hours”. A client ordered a custom stencil using a complicated scene, which is easy to test with the “fill” operation in Indesign or Rhino. However, what isn’t easy to test is “does this work as a stencil?” That is, are the gaps wide enough to let through spray paint? How quickly does it clog? How heavy is it?

In my home studio I would do a test cut, go spray paint it outside, come in, change the cad, and do another cut. That could easily take 30 minutes just to do the cut then another 20-30 min to test and update the cad model.