Design Studio: Laser Cutter

Quick Start

  • 2D digital fabrication technique. All files must be .dxf format.
  • Undergraduate coursework only and approved student groups.
  • Submit files for cutting. No self-service. TAs manufacture parts for you.
  • Watch this tutorial video on how to save your file as a DXF for submission
  • Recommend design consultation with TAs prior to file submission. See TA Office hours.

About This Machine

  • Make/Model: Universal VLS4.60
  • Cuts light-duty materials like wood and plastic up to 1/4″ thickness
  • Medium-sized working bed (23.75″ x 17.75″)
  • Precision cutting operations

Designing for the Laser Cutter

Stock Materials & Cost Estimation

  • Most commonly used for soft wood and plastics.
  • Maximum material thickness of 1/4″. Work area is ‎23.75″ x 17.75″ (W X H)
  • 23.75″ x 12″ birch wood is available in-stock for 1/8″ and 1/4 thicknesses.
  • 23.75″ x 17.75″ acrylic is available in-stock for 1/8″ and 1/4 thicknesses.
  • Other materials may be custom ordered. Here is a full list materials appropriate for laser cutting. Consult with a TA if you want to use these materials.
  • There is no charge for use of the laser cutter for class projects; however, you may be asked to estimate part costs. Conservatively, assume $0.05 per square inch for wood stock and $0.10 per square inch for plastics.

Design Considerations

  • The laser cutter can both cut-through material and etch. Cut-through is the default assumption on all .dxf files.
  • If prescribing etching or engraving, you need to note this on your laser cut request form. You must also manually edit your .dxf file to distinguish cut-through from etching/engraving lines as follows:
    • Red = full thickness cuts (RGB 255,0,0)
    • Blue = vector engraving (RGB 0,0,255)
    • Black = raster (grayscale bitmap) = (RGB 0,0,0)
  • It is possible to create 3D geometries out of 2D laser cut parts. One more common 3D geometry is an enclosure box. This brief video shows you how to design and manufacture box shapes using the laser cutter.
  • Laser cutting is a subtractive manufacturing operation and produces a kerf. It is important to consider this kerf in designs that need a particular kind of fit (e.g., press fit, slip fit). Demo boards with different types of fits in common materials are available in The Fab Lab. Also refer to the quick guide below.


File Formatting, Submitting, & Processing

  • All files submitted for laser cutting must be in .dxf format. Follow this video tutorial on how to create a .dxf file easily from SolidWorks.
  • Once you’re all ready to laser cut, complete the Laser Cutter request form. It will ask you for the following information.
    • Information about your project (course, team number, your contact info)
    • Choice of material & thickness
    • Your .dxf file
  • A TA will look over your request and will approve or reject your part for processing. The TA will correspond with you on the status of your part.
  • It generally takes 5-7 days for processing, and your part will be delivered to you as specified by your particular course, e.g., put into your project bin or pick up in designated location.
  • If you have questions about the status of your order, please contact the TAs via

Need Additional Help?

If you need assistance with the laser cutter, please email the TA team at

Fab Lab TA names and contact information listed below. Fab Lab TA Office Hours listed here.

Ben Caro, Lead TA

Logan Butler, TA

Jessica Coto, TA

Logan Feiler, TA

Joshua Ginsberg, TA

Nikki Pilla, TA

Hermelis Reyes, TA

AcademicsDesign StudioEquipmentLaser Cutter