It's cold what do I do?


#1

So it’s that time of year where it get coooooold!

My laser is kept in a sheltered indoor area but it used to be an outdoor area now cut off with PVCU cladding with a window and door. The floor is concrete. It’s not quite outdoors but its also not inside where the central heating is.

Question: how can I keep my tube warmer?
I thought maybe blankets or cardboard to protect.
Currently I don’t have a thermometer to check the temp of the space but it’s been 1-2° here and the water in the chiller isn’t frozen…yet.
Any suggestions would be brilliant.

I will be using the machine during the colder months and plan on building in a 30 min warm up time before I start cutting

Thanks in advance

Alex


#2

Hello Alex

A good question! The most common cause of needing to replace tubes is freezing. I’ve experimented with tubes trying to get them to break in the cold and have found that it is a rapid sudden (i.e. fast) drop in temperature that causes ice to form rapidly in a cold tube, expanding and smashing the glass. I have found this has happen in the following scenarios.

  • Garages and other unheated outbuilding

  • Shipping containers

  • Class rooms left unheated over the holidays

  • Port-a-cabin type buildings left unheated over the holidays

There are many ways to mitigate against damage from the cold.

  1. Keep an eye on the forecast, if a frost of sub-zero temperatures are likely or you are planning on leaving your cutter unused over a period in the winter be sure to take action.

  2. Consider draining your CO2 glass tube (inside the cutter) of water if you are going to leave the cutter unused for a period over winter or the holidays and its likely to be exposed to the cold.

  3. Use blankets and/or a small electric heater with thermostat to keep the edge off the temperature in the room (like keeping a greenhouse frost free). If you are able to heat the room a little consider leaving your chiller or water supply running i.e. moving water through the tube. If you have a temperature controllable chiller such as the CW5000 series from S&A this should be capable of maintaining a temperature for your coolant.

  4. Consider using an Ethylene Glycol based machine antifreeze HPC Laser supply one
    HPC CoolFlow but you can find one by shopping around also.

I hope this helps!


#3

Hi Dominic, someone suggested to me that it was potentially worth leaving the water pump running overnight to keep the water moving, what are your thoughts on that one? I wasn’t too convinced myself but definitely keen to hear other people’s thoughts


#4

Hello Graham

It very much depends. If you are able to heat your outbuilding a little, I think leaving an ambient chiller like the CW3000 on is fine and could even help.

My best advise is definitely to empty the tube and even the chiller if they are likely to be left in sub zero temperatures, say in a garage over the Christmas period unused.

Have a great holiday!

Dominic


#5

“My best advise is definitely to empty the tube and even the chiller” - sounds like a great idea for a Smoke & Mirrors tutorial right there :wink: :slight_smile:


#6

Oh like a video!? Hmm. That is a good idea.


#7

I’d certainly watch and to be honest I’d be a little nervous about doing it right now without some further tuition from somewhere, but Im certainly very keen to actually go through the process


#8

I have a little oil filled radiator with a thermostat and frost setting, i.e. it comes on when it is starting to get towards 0. It was fairly cheap and is quite economical compared to a normal electric heater. I use a timer switch on mine and it keeps the damp out and the edge off the temperature.


#9

Thanks all for the suggestions! Very helpful.

I can borrow a radiator from work for a while and I’ve got anti freeze in the chiller running through the pipes also so this should be sufficient for the space the LC lives. I think I will drain the water if I’m not using for more than a couple of weeks.
Hopefully no nasty icy surprises!

Happy Christmas :slight_smile: