What is Laser Cutting?
Laser cutting is a technology that uses a laser to cut materials, and is typically used for industrial manufacturing applications, but is also starting to be used by schools, small businesses, and hobbyists. Laser cutting works by directing the output of a high-power laser most commonly through optics. The laser optics and CNC (computer numerical control) are used to direct the material or the laser beam generated. The focused laser beam is directed at the material, which then either melts, burns, vaporizes away, or is blown away by a jet of gas, leaving an edge with a high-quality surface finish.
The laser cutter requires training to use. Complete online training/small practice project or have a 1-on-1 session to become certified! Complete the following form to register for the online Blackboard Training.
How does Laser Cutting work in the DLL?
1. Make a design
- You can make your own design using the following free software with a free account:
- Retina Engrave (web-based)
- Inkscape (download)
- Adobe Illustrator (download; limited free trial; on school computers)
- Make sure you save your file as an .svg extension (Inkspace/Illustrator) or .re3 (Retina Engrave)
- You can design it at home or in the Digital Learning Lab
- Make sure what you want cut is in red and engraved is in black. This will help speed up the process when it comes time to use the machine
2. Cut or Engrave your design
- Reserve the Laser Engraver in the DLL using the following form.
- The DLL has limited materials to cut/engrave on. Contact the DLL to see what is in stock, but you may have to bring your own materials. The following materials are unsafe for use in the laser cutter:
- Pleather or artificial leather
- Polycarbonate (what safety glasses and CD/DVDs are made of)
- HDPE (milk bottle plastic)
- Carbon Fiber
- Someone in the DLL will assist you with loading your file and selecting what will be cut and/or engraved.
3. Clean your Design
- Use water and a brush to remove some of the burn residue from your item.
Tools in the DLL are free to use. Materials for academic projects (projects or assignments that are done for a class are free to students. Personal projects require students to purchase materials from us or they can bring in their own. Below is a list of material costs: