Laser Cutting & Etching

How Do I Use the Laser Cutter & Etcher?

Those wishing to use Laser Cutting & Etching service are expected to take an orientation prior to printing.  Schedule a time with staff to begin printing an object yourself.  Contact Freeman Adult Reference staff for available times.

Make an Appointment to use the Laser Cutter & Etcher at Freeman

What is Laser Cutting & Etching?

Laser Cutter The laser cutter in the Jocelyn H. Lee Innovation Lab uses a 40W CO2 laser tube to generate an invisible beam capable of etching a variety of materials and cutting through wood and acrylic plastic up to ¼” thick. It has a working area of 12 x 20 inches. The laser is capable of etching a variety of bitmap images (BMP, JPG, PNG, etc.) and uses vector files (SVG, AI, PDF, etc.) for cutting and etching intricate line-art designs.

What Materials Can I Use?

  • Natural Wood
  • Natural Fabric
  • Paper
  • Uncoated Cardboard
  • Tile, Stone & Glass
  • Acrylic Plastic
  • Birch Craft Plywood
  • Natural Leather

Other materials are subject to Staff approval. PVC and chloride-containing materials are prohibited. Materials or job settings which produce excessive smoke, odor or flames will be restricted. Prepared samples of some of these materials are available in the Lab to provide example settings for the laser cutter. A limited selection of plywood and acrylic is available for purchase from the Friends of Freeman Bookstore.

Software for Etching and Cutting

Most programs can be used to print in raster mode. The Innovation Lab at Freeman uses Inkscape (free) for creating and editing vector files. Many CAD programs also generate vector files. 123D Design (free) and Autodesk Inventor are both available in the Innovation Lab. Adobe Creative Suite products (Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator) can be used to create vector files and edit bitmap images for rastering. Creative Suite programs are available in the Computer Training Lab at Freeman.

The laser cutter uses proprietary software (RetinaEngrave 3D, from Full Spectrum Laser) to transfer the raster and vector images to the laser cutter. This software is installed in the Innovation Lab.

Stacked-Slice and Interlocking-Slice Construction

The same STL files used in the creation of 3D printed models can be processed by 123D Make to create models formed by either interlocking sections or stacked layers of thin materials. 123D Make is free, and is installed on the Innovation Lab computers.