Laser Cutter

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The laser cutter is located in the southeast corner of the wind tunnel lab, and can be used to cut thin, soft materials(woods, plastics, etc.) and to engrave anodized metals.

Laser Cutter Hours[edit]

Monday-Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. (Shop Manager can unlock the door)

General Safety[edit]

  1. Fire extinguisher is next to the wind tunnel and entry way.
  2. NO food or drinks past the sink.
  3. ALWAYS turn the air on (50 psi on wall regulator) before you do anything.
  4. Blower must be ON before cutting.
  5. Make sure you know the type of material and the thickness of the material that you are cutting.
  6. DO NOT cut materials that can damage the laser or produce toxic fumes (see Material List).
  7. You are NOT allowed to cut geometries in the shape of a weapon(s) (such as a sword, gun, etc.); or components of weapon(s).
  8. Laser can’t cut metal (it can etch paint off metal).
  9. You must stay and supervise the Laser cutting during your cut.
  10. DO NOT leave the top door of laser open without the air on.
  11. If unsure HOW or WHY – ASK!

Approved Materials (< 1/2” thick)[edit]

  • Wood (usually Birch)
  • Acrylic
  • Cardboard (Power: 100%, Speed: 48-52%)
  • Etching paint off metal

Banned Materials[edit]

  • Any highly flammable or explosive substance
  • Any material containing chlorine/chlorines
  • PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride)
  • Vinyl (including records)
  • Polycarbonate/Lexan
  • Chlorinated Rubber
  • ABS
  • HDPE/Milk bottle plastic
  • Epoxy
  • PETG, PET (Polyethylene terephthalate)
  • Polystyrene or Polypropylene Foam
  • Corian
  • Nylon
  • Delrin
  • Fiberglass
  • Coated Carbon Fiber
  • Casting Wax
  • Foamcore
  • Bending Plywood
  • Tropical Hardwoods
  • Pleather/Artificial LEather
  • Any Foodstuff (meat,seaweed,tortillas)
  • Metal (except for etching off paint)

Image Setup[edit]

Using CorelDraw to Create an Image[edit]

CorelDraw Interface

CorelDraw functions like most other drawing programs. Along the left side of the screen are different drawing tool. In CorelDraw you can create shapes and lettering, scale objects, and set lines to either thick or thin, red or black. Black is used for when you want to make the laser cutter shade a shade or area without cutting through. This is called rastering. Red tells the laser cutter to cut through the material. You should only use thin red lines for cutting, thick red lines will cause the laser cutter to cut the same pattern about 8 times.

Corel Draw Info[edit]

  • Make sure workspace is 32”x 18” (so it matches the Laser print area).
  • For cutting and vector etch the style needs to be set to hairline.
  • The (0,0) of the area is the bottom, left corner of the work space.
  • If using anything University official images/logos make sure they are properly sized according the University website.
  • Can import DXF, PDF and images to Corel Scaling and sizing options available. NOTE: if you are scaling, make sure both ‘x’ and ‘y’ values are inputted before you press enter.
  • There are aligning options available in the Tool menu.
  • Settings for the various operations are located with Object Properties and Object Manager.
  • You can

Importing a CAD File[edit]

  1. Create the model of the part you would like to cut. Be sure that the part is dimensioned correctly in inches.
  2. Create a 32x18 inch drawing by selecting Make Drawing from Part -> Custom Sheet Size -> Width: 32in Height:18in.
  3. Create the drawing view you would like to cut. Be sure that scale is 1:1 and you have deleted all constructions lines, centerpoints and callouts.
  4. Save your drawing as a .DFX file.
  5. Open your drawing in CorelDraw and edit line colors for desired cutting/rastering.

If you need a little more help here are links to videos to help export your drawings as .DFX files from both CATIA and Solidworks


Importing an Internet Image[edit]

  1. Copy your image from the internet and paste it into CorelDraw.
  2. Once in CorelDraw, select Outline Trace and your image type.
  3. Once the image has been traced, play with the smoothing options until the image looks good to you.
  4. Delete the original image, the laser will cut/raster the trace. Any colored images will be gray-scaled by the laser cutter.


Sending Documents to the Laser Cutter[edit]

Delete lines like these highlighted lines here
  1. Print your drawing from CorelDraw to "VLS6.6"
  2. Next select preferences: select and color code the lines and areas for what you want to cut with the laser. By default: red, blue, and magenta denote vectoring (cutting a line); black and green denote rastering (cutting out an area); yellow, cyan, and orange denote both vectoring and rastoring.
  3. Change Material Thickness to the thickness of your stock.
  4. The laser cutter cannot cut material greater than one-half inch thick.
  5. Select the material you will be cutting. Most materials should have pre-set settings.
  6. Select Manual Controls Tab.
  7. Here you can re-order the order of operations for the laser cutter. Always make sure that the last operation is cutting out the part because the part could shift slightly when it drops from the material board and would mess up whatever is left.
  8. Turn the Z-Axis off for all operations
  9. Click Set -> Apply -> OK.
  10. Click OK again to send it to the laser program.
  11. Open the Laser Interface by selecting the arrow in the bottom-right of the screen and clicking the red box.
  12. The ruler in the Laser Interface matches the ruler in CorelDraw as well as the ruler on the laser cutter.
  13. Make sure everything is before you start cutting: last check on the rules on the whiteboard, turn on the air with the lever to the left of the monitor (check to make sure the pressure is 50psi, the gauge is to the right of the monitor), and turn on the exhaust to keep fumes and debris from building up in the laser cutter.
  14. Once the 'Initial Laser Bed Setup' has loaded, select the green play button to start the cut.


If you are confused about any of these steps, you can watch a screencast for clarification Here

Again, before you start cutting, there are a few things you want to make a last check


      • IMPORTANT: You must stay and supervise the the entire laser cutting process, and move the computer mouse every once in a while because the computer will go to sleep after 20 minutes of inactivity which will stop your print and you will not be able to resume from where you were before the computer went to sleep.
Finished Laser Cutter Product

It can be fun to watch the laser cutter work anyways: Time Lapse










How to get access to the laser cutter in GJ 123[edit]

To use the laser cutter in GJ, you must be certified as a user. this involves a demonstration from a trainer, hands on training, and an exit exam where you will make your own "I" for the board outside the lab.

Certified Trainers[edit]

These people are qualified to train new users on the machine. contact one of them if you are interested in learning to use the laser cutter. There is a list of qualified trainers in GJ 123. If the lab is locked, The shop manager can unlock it for you.

Training-related Documents[edit]

File:Laser Cutter Check List.pdf and File:Laser Cutter Training Exit Exam.pdf