Laser Lab

Location: Laser cutters are located in the Model Lab room A102 on the ground floor next to the Material labs.

The Labs have three Universal Laser Systems solid state laser cutters useful for etching patterns or cutting virtually any 2-dimensional shape from a wide variety of thin materials such as acrylic, chipboard, wood veneer, and thin plywood. The lasers open 24/7 during the semester.

We have three Universal laser systems all with 32" x 18” beds. Costs are $.005 per square inch.

Each laser's usage is controlled on a signup sheet basis - "first come first served." Please see the tutorials below. Tutorials are also posted in the laser lab on computer home page. If you have any further questions use the contact list for monitors located outside lab entrance. 

The lab is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the regular semester, excluding holidays. You must sign up for a time-slot – there are signup sheets posted at entrance to lab.  (2 hours max on 1 laser per day)

The student begins their file preparation by modeling their form with any of the following programs:

  • Adobe Illustrator
  • CorelDraw
  • Alias
  • Rhinoceros
  • Maya
  • Solidworks
  • 3dsMax
  • AutoCAD

Note: the Laser Cutter requires 2D line drawings only.

When your files are ready then bring them down the laser lab.

To gain access to the Laser Cutter

Students must first read the on line tutorials.

Read and understand the Policies and Procedures

Watch the introduction training video for laser use here:

And you must pass the Laser Lab Test in order to log into the laser labs:

  • The Laser Test is now part of the yearly safety exam given during the Fall in certain courses. Everyone is required to go through the study materials and pass the practice quizzes before you can take the Final Safety Exam and sign the Safety Contract. Once your faculty submits that information to the appropriate people it will take 3-5 business days for your access to process.
  • If you have not taken this exam during the Fall or don't have an architecture course, you must arrange access to the course material with a faculty sponsor and the materials lab.

The Laser Policies

  1. SURVEILLANCE: The lasers are under video surveillance.
  2. ATTENDANCE: NEVER leave the laser unattended. It can catch fire! Stay alert and observe. If there is any, flame, smoke or fire, LIFT the lid to Stop the laser. If you leave the laser running unattended, the staff will shut it off and you will lose your access to the laser cutters. If you have to leave, stop or pause your file.
  3. RESPONSIBILITY: The Lasers are for Academic Use, only. You are financially responsible for all damage due to misuse.
  4. MATERIALS: Only use allowed materials. If you have any questions ask one of the lab monitors!  Always test your settings first to make sure that they don’t cause a fire.
    YES: Basswood, balsa, cardboard, chipboard, leather.
    Note: Paper burns easily, so only use very low power settings and fast speed. You MUST run quick tests with simple lines when using paper to determine the proper settings.
    MAYBE: Plexiglas and acrylic can be cut, but can smell bad. If you are going to cut them, notify others in room before starting. Place acrylic waste in containers outside of the Model lab to control fumes. Leave the laser lid closed for 30 seconds after use to let fumes be removed.
    NO: Foam-core, Lexan, PVC, treated plywood, MDF or anything that can produce toxic fumes when burned. NO glass, mirrors, metal, coins, foil, metallic paints, or anything that can reflect the laser. NO glues, sprays, or toxic materials.
  5. PREPARATION: Prepare your files first. Your laser reservation will be forfeited if you are not cutting within 10 min. of your start time.
  6. POST-PRODUCTION: You can use the Model lab to assemble your models. Once you have cut your material, please gather your things and clean up after yourself. Do not leave the remains of your materials on the tables, on the laser beds, or anywhere in the room. Be considerate of fellow students. Use gondola outside for laser waste because of the smell.
  7. COST: Students are charged for laser use with the PaperCut system via CatCard. You pay only for the cut area, which you have to manually set in the engraving field on UCP software.
  8. CERTIFICATION: All students must complete the online laser test before using lasers. If you are caught using another student’s login, both the user and the login-owner will be penalized:

1st offense- laser privledges suspended for one week; $50 fine.
2nd offense- laser privledges suspended for one month; $100 fine.
3rd offense- laser privledges suspended for remainder of the semester; $200 fine.

Lasers are maintained weekly but with heavy use, problems are unavoidable. If you have a deadline, plan ahead. Waiting until the last minute to cut should be avoided.

Great source for a birch ply made just for lasers