Set up guide for laser cutting and engraving

Students are not  permitted to operate the lasers. Charges apply per  minute for laser use.

What is a Laser?

The best way to explain what a laser does is that it is a printer.
The preferred program to operate the Laser cutter is - AutoCAD.

Typical Set Out for AutoCAD designs

The drawing should be drawn to model size, NOT REAL SIZE. It should be saved as either a DWG or a DXF

Setting up your laser work

It is not the responsibility of the operators of the laser to fix laser files when work is submitted on the wrong size sheets. All work drawn incorrectly will be returned to the student to resolve. Once resubmitted, it will be placed in the queue.

Do not use layers - Make sure all laser work is in layer 0

After drawing the model always 'overkill' your drawing. Overkill is an add-on in AutoCAD. It can only be loaded when installing off the disk. See Shane Warren in Tech Services (level 4) for more information. This add-on searches for double lines which can be a problem when it is scanned into the lasers as the double lines are recognised and can be in the thousands especially on scanned, hand drawings. If you have a green line over a magenta line the laser will engrave it as well as cut it. Always overkill before colour coding your drawing as it will change the colour of some lines.

Sheet Sizes


1200mm x 600mm

Usable area of sheet is 1190mm x 590mm.


1020mm x 600mm

Usable area of sheet is 1010mm x 590mm.

White Paste Board

1020mm x 600mm

Usable area of sheet is 1010mm x 590mm.

DO NOT USE the outside  edges of the sheet as a border as stated above, always allow an offset of 5mm minimum around all edges as shown in the example sheet below.



Engraving or can be rastered

MDF 3mm, 6mm and 9mm
Ply 3mm, 6mm and 9mm
Acrylics to 9mm
Balsa Wood to 9mm

Slate, stone, cork and painted metals, as well as the above materials. Check with the workshop prior to starting your model

Please do not  bring plastics to be cut as it transmits a toxic gas

Students can supply their own materials but for convenience some of the above materials are available for purchase from the workshop.

The workshop stocks the following materials: MDF 3mm, 6mm, 9mm Strawboard 1mm, 2mm, 3mm White pasteboard 1mm, 2mm

The workshop stocks these materials as the materials are from one supplier and the moisture content is consistent and the operator is familiar with the settings and test trials are not required. If supplying your own, please provide an additional piece (100mm x 200mm) to enable the operator to test cuts before cutting your model. 1mm straw board is the most economical material to build models.

Different ways of cutting and engraving

Below is the description and the colours needed to set up the laser. They must be true colours.

Vector Cutting (Magenta) laser will cut all the way through the material.
Vector Engraving (Green) by reducing power and speed settings the laser will only mark lines, circles and outline printing.
Raster Engraving (Red) Hatched Printing (broad text), photographs and designs.

The most economical way of using the Laser is by vector cutting and vector engraving using AutoCAD. Vectors are lines. Try to use common lines where one line makes two objects as per the example drawing sheet.

A guide on how far apart lines can be before the material distorts during vector cutting.

3mm MDF 1.0mm
6mm MDF 2.0mm
9mm MDF 3.0mm
3.0mm Acrylic 1.0mm (in long vector cuts some distortion may occur)
6.0mm Acrylic 1.5mm (in long vector cuts some distortion may occur)
9.0mm Acrylic 5.0mm (in long vector cuts some distortion may occur)
1mm Straw Board 0.5mm
2mm Strawboard 1.0mm
1mm and 2 mm Balsa Wood 75mm
2.5mm to 5mm Balsa Wood 2.0mm
5.5mm to 9.0mm Balsa Wood 5.0mm

Set Out Guide for Laser 1

example of a set out guide for laser 1

All enquiries should be directed to the workshop:

Phone 5227 2251  or   5227 8019

Laser cutter booking form

View information on how to make a booking

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