Engineering | 3D Print and Laser Cutter Lab

Printer information

  • 4 Units available
  • 32″ x 18″ processing area
  • 60 watt lasers

Reservations

Schedule the laser cutter

Tutorial

Please review the following Laser Cutter Tutorials prepared by the Herberger Design Lab before your scheduled laser cutting session.

Laser cutter tutorial cover thumbnail

Download tutorial PDF

Additional information

Tips, materials and troubleshooting

Materials

  • Students are only permitted to use the laser cutter with APPROVED materials
  • The Digital Lab provides recommended power and speed settings that serve as a starting point for laser cutting your material, these settings can be adjusted to achieve the intended results

Approved materials

MaterialMax ThicknessNotesWarnings
Hard Woods (Recommended)
Basswood
Birch
1/4"Charring may occur, Avoid oily/resinous woodsOily and resinous woods will catch fire
Plywood1/8"Charring will occur, plywood contains glue and may be more difficult to cut, we recommend using a hard wood if possible
Paper
Card Stock
Matboard
Butterboard
Standard ThicknessCuts very nicely and very quicklySlight edge discoloration may occur if settings are too high
Cardboard2-plyCuts nicely, but easily catches on fire under slow speeds or high power settingsWatch for fire
Natural Cork (NOT engineered cork)1/4"Quality of the cuts depend on the quality of the cork, thick cork will char and burnWatch for burning/charring
Acrylic
Lucite
PMMA
1/4"Cuts extremely well, with nice clean edgesANY clear or plastic protective covering must be removed before cutting
Styrene Sheets1/16"Smokes severely when cut, laser cutter lens easily gets dirty and will need to be cleaned when finished and cooledChars and burns when speed is too slow or power is too high

Banned materials

MaterialDangerCause/Consequence
"PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride)
Polyester
Vinyl
Pleather (Artificial Leather)"
Emits pure chlorine gas when etched or cut! Damages the laser cutterDO NOT cut this material!! It will ruin the optics of the laser cutters, cause the metal of the machine to corrode and ruin the motion control system. It is severely damaged to our equipment.
Polycarbonate
Lexan
Catches fire, does not cut!Often found as a flat, sheet material, Polycarbonate strongly absorbs infrared radiation. It is very ineffective in etching/cutting and discolors the material.
Plastics
ABS
HDPE (milk bottle plastic)
Emits CYANIDE gas, catches fire and melts!It melts rather than vaporizes and easily catches on fire, leaving behind a melted gooey deposit that is especially difficult to remove from the honeycomb grid. It does not engrave well.
Foam
Polystyrene Foam
PolyPropylene Foam
Depron Foam
Gator Foam
Catches fire immediately!It catches fire, melts and does not easily cut, this material will melt into drops of burning fire and turn to rock hard drips and pebbles in the laser cutter bed. Do not etch or cut.
FiberglassEmits toxic fumes!It's a mix of two materials that can't be cut. Glass and epoxy resin
Coated Materials
Carbon Fiber
Emits noxious fumesThe material will simply not cut
MDF / OSB / Engineered WoodHigh amounts of charring, difficult to cut

 

If you have a material that is not listed that you would like to cut or etch, please contact the Print Lab Staff for special permissions.

Troubleshooting

If you receive an error message when attempting to send your file to the laser cutter indicating that no information was sent then you may need to check the following:

  • Ensure your line weights are at 0.00 (AutoCad), 0.001 (Illustrator) for vector lines
  • Ensure the colors of the lines are the standard color options (AutoCad)
  • Ensure all of the lines/images are at 100% opacity (Illustrator)
  • Ungroup, release and explode any groups, blocks or compound paths

Policies, terms and conditions


Late policy

If the student has not arrived within 15 minutes of their reserved session then the session and collected monies will be forfeited.

Laser cutter operation

  • Students should come to the laser cutter ready to cut. The laser cutter workstation is not a place to make extensive changes to your files.
  • Students MUST be actively watching the laser cutter at ALL times, due to the fact that your material may catch on fire.
  • Fires
    • Small flames are to be expected
    • If your material catches fire and remains on fire you must immediately stop the laser cutter using the main power switch and notify a Lab Assistant.
  • After your part is completed, keep the lid of the laser cutter closed for 10 seconds to allow smoke or vapors to be vented.
  • Clean up your workstation when you are finished. You may not leave materials of any kind in or around the laser cutter.
  • Please place all recyclable materials in the recycling bins in the Digital Lab