Laser Cutter

Images by Jody Culkin & Anna Pinkas. Used with permission.


If you’re looking for project ideas, please check our Workshops!

A laser cutter uses a laser to cut away materials. There are many varieties of this machine, with many industrial applications. The machine we have, the Epilog Mini 24, can cut cardboard, acrylic(plexiglass), wood, fabric and other materials less than 1/4 inch thick. In addition to cutting, it can also etch materials.

Only the CLT, lab manager or your instructor can cut files presently, but it is important that you understand how the laser cutter works and that you set up your documents properly. It is also a good idea to understand the basic settings for cutting and for etching different materials.


Outputting Tips

Output Guides: Illustrator | Inkscape

Open source programs like Inkscape or the browser-based Vectr are available to use if you don’t have Illustrator, otherwise please come to the Makerspace and familiarize yourself with the program on our computers!

If you do not wish to set up a document yourself, see below for a ready made template for use!


  • The Makerspace provides a limited amount of materials. If there’s specific material or color of acrylic you want to use, please look at our Materials resource page as to where to acquire it.
  •  Accepted files for output are .ai or .eps (preferred) .svg (acceptable) or .pdf (in extreme cases).
  • Maximum Bed Size is 12 x 24 inches; so please make sure your project  and materials fit within that space.
  • Color output is RGB. You can change the output when starting your file, or going to File > Document Color Mode > RGB Color
  • Separate your etch and cut jobs into 2 separate layers, it will speed up the preflight process. If cutting multiple “pages”, keep it to one art board and simply add more cut/etch layers. (This helps speed up the printing process just a little bit!)
  • Laser cutting and etching takes time. While one small and simple cut may be fast, a large scale job with both cutting and etching may take up 30 minutes or more. Files may not be perfectly set for  printing. Plan accordingly when making a walk-in or reservation.
  • It’s always good practice to prototype in cardboard first before committing with another (and potentially expensive) material. The Makerspace always has cardboard on hand!
  • Get extra material! Mistakes happen, or sometimes we need to test the settings before running jobs, especially if it’s a new material not on the list! (See below for approved materials.)
  • If you are unsure about your materials, please talk to the lab staff prior to purchasing!

Laser Cutting:

  • Items must be set up as a shape with a black (#000000) 0.01 point stroke in your file.
  •  Maximum material thickness for cutting is 1/4″ (0.25 inches). But this also varies on material.

Laser Etching/Engraving:

  • Items to be etched must be set up as solid black (#000000) fill or greyscale.
  • The opacity of the black determines how deep the etch is, the darker the color the deeper the etch.
  • Vector images are HIGHLY recommended, greyscale raster images output with less fidelity.
  • Maximum material thickness for etching is limited to the bed’s depth limit.


Approved Materials

Check our Materials page on where to purchase materials.

Please be advised that materials on this list may be subject to change by the Makerspace. If your material is not on the list, please contact the Lab Manager before using it.


Both Etching and Cutting:

  • Acrylic (up to ¼” thick)
  • Cardboard
  • Cardstock
  • Chipboard
  • Basswood (up to ¼” thick)
  • Birch Plywood (up to ⅛” thick)
  • Paper
  • Vegetable Tanned Leather (up to ⅛” thick)
  • Fabrics (with varied success)

Etching Only:

  • Acrylic (Over ¼” thick)
  • Cork
  • Basswood (Over ¼” thick)
  • Birch Plywood (Over ⅛” thick)
  • Laser Safe Rubber
  • Wood Blocks
  • Hardwoods

Cutting Only:

  • EVA Foam

Other Resources