Skip to main content
Skip sub navigation

Set up guide for laser cutting and engraving

Typical set out for AutoCAD designs

The drawing should be drawn to model size, not real size. It should be saved as a DWG file.

Do not use layers

Please ensure all laser work is in layer 0.

After drawing the model, always 'overkill' your drawing. We find that some drawings have multiple lines where something is copied and placed over the top of another line, in which case the laser will see the multiple lines and cut them accordingly. This will add time and cost to your model.

Call or visit the workshop for further information.

Important note

Always allow a minimum offset of 5mm around all edges as shown in the example sheet below.

Please do not bring plastics to be cut as they transmit a toxic gas.

You can supply your own materials but for convenience, some of the above materials are available for purchase from the workshop.

The workshop stocks these materials, as they are from one supplier, the moisture content is consistent and the operator is familiar with the settings so, test trials are not required. If supplying your own materials, please provide an additional piece (100mm x 200mm) to enable the operator to test the stock 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).

Colour set upDescription
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 – you should try to use common lines where one line makes two objects, as per the example drawing sheet.

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

Material Line limit
3mm MDF 1.0mm
6mm MDF 2.0mm
9mm MDF 3.0mm
3.0mm acrylic 1.0mm
6.0mm acrylic 1.5mm
9.0mm acrylic 5.0mm
1mm strawboard 1.0mm
2mm strawboard 1.0mm
1mm and 2 mm balsa wood 1.0mm
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

Submit drawings

Please submit all drawings for laser cutting to

Contact us

For more information contact the supervisors, Greg Shield or Anthony Swanborough.