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Laser Cutter

Due to the delicate nature of the laser cutter, its high operating cost, and high-value consumable materials, use of the laser cutter is limited to members of NSL in good standing.

Do not use the laser cutter, member or not, unless someone who knows what they are doing has given you permission to do so. There is almost always someone present who can show you how to use the laser cutter properly.

Verify proper chiller and exhaust fan operation before every run to avoid blowing up the laser cutter or asphyxiating all of NSL. If you kill us all, we won't like you very much.


  • Do not place or leave food or drinks on top of the laser, empty or not.
  • Do not stack your cast-offs, left over bits, or test material on top of or around the laser cutter.

After Every Use

  1. Clean off the bits that are left over on the honeycomb.
  2. Clean off the table under the honeycomb and/or razor.
  3. Wipe down the razor and table with a cloth.


  1. Wipe down the inside of the laser in areas away from grease and moving parts. (Table, walls, etc…)
  2. Check inside the lower drawer below the table and clean.
  3. Remove the honeycomb and clean it out with compressed air outside of the building.

Pre-Cut Checklist

After you have prepared your program on the PC and are ready to begin…

  1. Ensure the laser cabinet is free of obstructions which may damage the mechanisms or head
  2. Close the cabinet
  3. Power on the laser cutter
  4. Power on the exhaust fan via the power strip on top of the chiller
  5. Verify the exhaust fan is functioning properly
    1. Exhaust should be blowing outside of the window. Check for blowback or leaks.
    2. When the laser cabinet is closed noticeable suction should be present around the front of the cabinet
  6. Power on the chiller
    1. Check for the ALARM light on the chiller. It should be off. If it is on the chiller needs maintenance.
  7. Double-check every again.


We Can Cut

  • Plastics
    • ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)
    • Acrylic
      • Plexiglass, Lucite, PMMA
      • Two-tone acrylic — top color different than core material, usually for custom instrumentation panels, signs, and plaques.
    • Delrin (POM, acetal) — for a supplier, try
    • Kapton tape (Polyimide)
    • Mylar (polyester) - Available at Office Depot as “Laser Transparency Sheets”
    • Nylon — melts badly
    • PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol)
    • Polyethylene (PE) — melts badly
    • Polypropylene (PP) — melts somewhat
    • Styrene
  • Foams
    • Depron foam — often used for RC planes.
    • EPM
    • Gator foam — foam core gets burned and eaten away compared to the top and bottom hard shell.
  • Other
    • Cloths (leather, suede, felt, hemp, cotton)
    • Magnetic sheets
    • Papers
    • Rubbers
      • Neoprene
    • Teflon (PTFE, Polytetrafluoroethylene)
    • Woods (MDF, balsa, birch, poplar, red oak, cherry, holly, etc.)

We Cannot / Should Not Cut

DO NOT CUT ANY MATERIAL CONTAINING CHLORINE. Chlorine gas can kill you, but more importantly it will damage the laser!

  • Any material containing chlorine
  • Metals
  • Polycarbonate (PC, Lexan)
  • PVC (Cintra) — contains chlorine
  • Vinyl — contains chlorine
  • Glass — we can engrave glass, but we cannot cut it.
  • Fiberglass
  • Printed circuit board (FR4 and other material types)
  • Carbon fiber
  • Pictures with some acrylic colors
  • Moleskine book covers

Materials Settings Chart


Material Thickness Speed Power
Acrylic .093“ 20 45
Blue Acrylic .1181 20 80
MDF .1181 20 60
Plywood 5.2mm 8 90
Rubber 4 8 12
Mylar Sheet .002 10 300
Cheese 5 10 15
Pine/Poplar 1/2” 3mm/s ??
Oak 3/8“ 6mm/s ??

Please update this list with UNITS and additional materials after every new cut or test.


Material Speed Power
Acrylic 300 40
MDF 300 10

Please update this list with additional materials after every new engrave or test.

Sample Etches

Laser Cutter Upgrades

equipment/laser_cutter.txt · Last modified: 2023/02/21 08:01 by blakangel