One of the most popular machines in the lab, this 120 Watt Laser Cutter can cut and etch wood and certain plastics. When the laser cuts, it burns all the way through the material. When it etches, it burns the surface of the material, but it does not burn very deep. A list of materials stocked for use with the laser cutter is available below.
It should be noted, these machines can not cut or etch metal. What they can do is etch paint, or ink, or anodization, off of a metal surface. Attempting to etch or cut bare metal will damage the Laser Cutter.
Please also note our Manufacturing Policy where we prohibit mass production. If you intend to make more than 10 of your item, that is considered mass production and is not allowed. When you are ready to go beyond your prototype and grow your commercial activity, consult our list of Mechanical Engineering and Fabrication Services for commercial manufacturing resources.
To use the laser cutter, start by preparing a .DXF file (a common CAD sketch format) or a vector art file made in CorelDraw (.cdr) or Adobe Illustrator (.ai)
Consult the Speed/Power Settings chart for your material. If you don't find your material listed, locate the MSDS sheets for your material and bring them to the lab for approval. Be aware that certain materials such as PVC and Fiberglass emit hazardous or toxic fumes and may not be cut or etched under any circumstances, while other materials may not cut well on this type of laser. Please consult think[box] staff if you have any questions about materials. The lab also stocks limited supplies of the following materials for your convenience (see explanation of pricing rates):
|Material||Regular Price||Undergraduate Price|
|1/4" Birch Plywood (24" x 12")||$9.75||$6.50|
|1/4" Acrylic - Clear (24" x 18")||$38.75||$25.75|
|1/16" Lasermax (24" x 12")||$26.75||$17.75|
The ideal theoretical spot size of the laser cutter is 0.005 inches, and the accuracy is is +/- 0.003 inches across the entire 36 x 24 inch bed. Typically, a 4 inch focal-length lens is used, which has a cutting depth of about 1/2 inch.
Due to the physics of the laser light focusing on your material, the side edges of your cut pieces will be slightly beveled. Do not expect an 0.005 inch kerf (cutting width). If exact dimensions are important, do a test cut on your material, measure the kerf, and compensate.
For engraving large objects, the laser bed can be lowered, allowing you to etch items up to 11 inches tall.