laser cutter reservations are online
Students can make reservations for Laser cutters #1, #2 and #3 here. Students are allowed to make reservations in one hour blocks for a maximum of two hours a week. Trying to reserve more than your allotted two hours will result in loss of laser privileges. Failure to show for an appointment will result in loss of laser cutting privileges (the confirmation e-mail contains a cancellation link).
Laser cutter #4 is reserved for walk up jobs no appointment necessary. Jobs on #4 are limited to 45 min. It is intended for short, emergency cutting. If you have one piece you lost or forgot to cut, that is what #4 is for, not production work. If you are cutting on #4 and there are people who have been waiting longer than 45 min, you will be asked to stop cutting even if your cut has not finished.
Semester hours: M-F: 9a-11p, su: 10a-8p (closed sat)
The school has one Universal Laser Systems X-660 laser cutter with single 50-watt laser, one PLS 675 with a 60-watt laser and two PLS 615D with dual lasers. They are located in Room 011 of Slocum Hall, around the corner from the Plotting Room. The laser cutters are managed by trained monitors, and the room is open only when a monitor is present. Students will cut their own work under the training and guidance of a monitor.
Only architecture-related work for architecture students may be laser cut.
If room is closed, try:
- DesignWorks at the Warehouse, 443-0479
There is no per-minute cost for laser cutting. Students must supply their own approved material (see below).
Architecture students may cut a maximum of two hours per week. This policy may be relaxed if there is no queue.
Laser cutting your files
Laser cutting is done by the student under the guidance of an operator. Students must undergo a short training prior to cutting the first time. Stop by Room 011 or 008B with your material and files, and see John Bryant.
Bring your files on a USB memory stick. Until further notice, you must use one of the supplied templates for submitting work (see next section below).
Bring your own materials, cut to fit the laser bed (18”x32”). There is trimming device mounted to the wall in Room 011 that you can use to trim the material.
ONLY work related to architecture courses will be cut—no personal, non-architecture material.
Laser Cutter Template
You can now laser cut using AutoCAD, Rhino3D and Adobe Illustrator. Please cut directly from the application you are designing in; this prevents errors that occur in translation between programs. All files must use one of the supplied templates. The template files can be downloaded here (unzip to use) or obtained by logging onto a lab computer and looking under the G drive in the Student Resources folder in the ‘Laser Cutter Template’ subfolder. AutoCAD files can be saved in 2015 or earlier DWG format.
The templates provide a pre-defined bounding box that matches the laser cutter bed dimensions (18” x 32”). You can copy the bounding box as many times as you want in the same file; this way you won’t need to have multiple files. The template provides layer colors pre-set for cut, score, fold and skip (the score color will occur before cut).
Cut = blue - laser completely penetrates material
Score = red - laser makes shallow cut
Fold = yellow - laser makes deeper cut to allow natural folding
Skip = white - laser does not cut
- Chipboard - up to 1/8” - edges will char
- Museum board - up to 1/8” (black, brown, grey) - cuts nicely
- Museum board - up to 1/8” (white, off-white) - edges will char
- Illustrator board - up to 1/8” (white, off-white) - edges will char
- Corrugated cardboard - up to 1/8”
- Basswood - up to 1/8” - heavily charred edges and orange surface if not protected with paper masking
- Plexiglas, Lucite, Acrylic - up to 1/4” thick
Lexan, PVC, styrene, polyesters (including Dura-Lar and polycarbonate), PET films (including PETG), polypropylene, vinyl, glass, MDF, plywood, foam core, metal, fabrics, and any material not listed above. Prohibited materials could melt on the laser bed or release toxic gas. Plastics can release carcinogens such as benzene.
The SU Bookstore sells many of the acceptable materials, including acrylic. But please note, the bookstore also sells material that looks like acrylic but is not—this includes styrene, PETG and Dura-Lar, all of which are not permitted on the laser cutter.
Vector vs Raster Cuts
Only vector cuts are allowed, no raster cutting (it is too time-consuming). When choosing fonts in AutoCAD, make sure to use ONLY VECTOR fonts (which have a small TT symbol next to the names). Raster fonts take forever to cut and will not be cut.
AutoCAD Important Tip
Save time and headaches by running the OVERKILL command on your DWG file before laser cutting. This will remove duplicate lines and combine line and arc segments that overlap. If your file has lines on top of lines, it can result in a much slower cutting time, or excessive charring of the edges. From the AutoCAD command line, type overkill, or from the menus, click Express, Modify, Delete Duplicate. Don’t save over your original file in case something goes wrong.
Before submitting files for laser cutting using the AutoCAD template:
1. Make sure you are using the Autocad DWG template
2. Check layers and TURN OFF the cut, score and fold layers. All objects should DISAPPEAR in the template. If not, there is a mistake in the layers and you will want to fix it.
3. Once the layers are correct, the file can be PURGED (purge) of all excess layers. The ONLY layers should be the ones that come with the template. Erase EVERYTHING outside of the templates. All layers should be BY LAYER.
4. Explode and OVERKILL the drawing. This will clean up the drawing and save time.
Material costs are not reimbursed under any circumstance.
The school is not responsible for failed jobs, material damaged by the machine, jobs not finished before your deadline, or models left in the room after they have finished.
If you have questions about use of the laser cutters, please drop by the laser cutter room to speak with the monitor on duty, or contact John Bryant in 008 or Chuck Savage in 001.