Laser Cutter FAQ

Welcome to the Laser Cutter FAQ! All frequently asked questions are answered here. For answers to infrequently asked questions, please email us at

Before proceeding, please read the Laser Cutter Rules.

General things

What kind of materials can I have cut?
  • Acrylic
  • Plywood
  • Cardboard
  • Hardboard
  • Chipboard
  • Paper
Can you laser cut this unidentifiable plastic I found?


What size limitations are there?

The laser bed is 32 x 18 inches wide; we can cut materials up to .25 inches thick.

Where do I get materials?

The lab has plenty of scrap cardboard and a limited amount of scrap acrylic for small parts. For large acrylic parts, buy your own. Canal Plastics is usually a good choice.

Wait. Where's the lab?

41 Cooper Square, room 706. Also known as the Materials Science Lab. Affectionately known as Limalab.

How do I make an appointment?

See our Google Calendar to see when the laser cutter is free. Then email us at with your preferred time slot (1 hour slots) and we'll help you out. To improve your chances, include as many possible times as possible.

What are lab hours?

There are no official lab hours; anytime the school is open and operators are willing to make an appointment is fair game. This includes weekends.

What if my parts will take more than an hour to cut?

Schedule multiple appointments or request a longer appointment. If your appointment ends up being too short, the operator may extend your time or ask you to schedule another appointment later.

Preparing drawings

How do I draw things to laser cut?

The easiest way is to draw your parts in AutoCAD.

Then what?

Copy them into the AutoCAD Laser Cutting Template (available at the bottom of this page) and follow the instructions on the template. You should also read the Laser Cutter File Preparation Instructions before coming in.

I'm bad at AutoCAD. Can you just do it for me?


Can I laser cut things I made in SolidWorks?
Can I laser cut from Illustrator files?

Yes. Export your drawing from Illustrator as a .dwg file, then open it in AutoCAD and clean it up according to the Laser Cutter File Preparation Instructions.

Can I laser cut photographs?

Yes. Paste your raster image into the template, and AutoCAD and the laser print driver will generally take care of the rest.


I put my parts on the Parts to Cut layer. Why won't they display as red?

AutoCAD treats grouped objects differently. You may also have this problem if you created parts using the ARRAY command. Select your parts, EXPLODE them, and make sure their Color, Line weight, and Line type are set to ByLayer. You may have to select small sections of parts and move them between layers individually.

I downloaded a .stl file from online and the drawing is full of weird overlapping lines. What do I do?

You'll need to convert all your 3D objects to 2D polylines. Select your parts and use AutoCAD command FLATTEN. Then, use PEDIT to convert your objects to polylines. Finally, OVERKILL to get rid of any leftover overlapping lines. AutoCAD will indicate near the command line how many segments were successfully exploded and/or deleted.

How do I get rid of the AutoCAD educational watermark?

Find a computer with the full (non-educational) version of AutoCAD and open your file. Save it as a .dxf using DXFOUT. Then, use DXFIN to open the new file. Save it as a new .dwg. The watermark should be gone.

Laser Cutter Template Files

Choose the latest template file you can open in your version of AutoCAD.

2013 dwg 2012 dwg 2011 dwg 2010 dwg


start/classes/lasercutterfaq.txt · Last modified: 2014/09/16 14:23 by jsong2
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