Laser cutters use a high-powered laser to cut and engrave wood, acrylic, metal, paper, fabric, and other materials with extreme precision.
Laser Cutter: What you need to know
- Only Volunteers and Staff who have completed the two part Laser Safety Training are allowed to operate the laser cutter.
- The laser cutter must be monitored across the entire duration of the job. This means that if your cut is going to take an hour, you are required to sit next to the laser cutter for an hour. Make sure to use the restroom before you start!!
- Review the Laser Cutter Safety Checklists prior to using the laser cutter
- The laser cutter cannot be reserved, and operates on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Materials for the Laser Cutter
Not everything can be cut with our laser cutter. Please see the lists of approved and forbidden materials below to ensure your project can utilize the laser cutter effectively and safely.
- Wood, plywood, and medium density fiberboard
- Cardboard and matboard
- Engraving only: aluminum, glass, materials greater than 0.375" (8mm) thick
Some materials produce harmful or even toxic fumes when cut by the laser. These materials are never to be used in the laser cutter:
- Polyvinylchloride (PVC)
- Polycarbonate (this is often confused for acrylic so be careful!)
- ABS plastic
- Flammable materials
- Pressurized containers
Designing for the Laser Cutter
To create designs for our VLS 4.60 laser cutter, you will need a vector-based software such as:
- Adobe Illustrator (available in the Maker Hub and in the Gelardin Center)
- Inkscape (a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator). If designing in Inkscape, make sure to save your file as an SVG when you bring it to the Maker Hub
In the Maker Hub we primarily use Adobe Illustrator to create designs. Follow this link for tips on Designing in Adobe Illustrator for the laser cutter.
Obviously there are many intricacies with using Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape. If you want help using these softwares, come speak with a Volunteer. You can also check out our Workshops and Events page for Intro to Adobe Illustrator workshops.
LinkedIn Learning also provides a series called Laser Cutting: Design for Fabrication which can be used to learn the ins and outs of laser cutting.