The Franklin Center For Innovation Makerspace has one laser machine.
The Laser machine is available to FCFI Members and faculty, to make two- and three-dimensional objects from birch or acrylic sheets using a design uploaded from a digital file.
- Prior to using the laser machine you must complete a mandatory orientation and sign a Makerspace User Agreement form (must be signed in person).
- The laser machine is to be used in a non-commercial capacity. Mass quantity printouts will be referred to a commercial company.
- Uploaded files will be deleted once your object has been created.
Use of the laser machine must conform to all Franklin Center For Innovation Policies.
The laser machine is to be operated by FCFI Makerspace Technicians only.
The FCFI Makerspace laser engraver may be used only for lawful purposes and FCFI reserves the right to refuse any print request. The machine cannot be used to create material that is:
- Prohibited by state or federal law.
- Unsafe, harmful, dangerous, or poses an immediate threat to the well-being of others.
- In violation of the intellectual property rights of others. For example, reproducing material that is subject to copyright, patent, or trademark protection.
- A weapon, in part or whole, or any object that can be mistaken for a weapon.
- Too large for the printer.
- Lewd, malicious, or otherwise unsuitable for creating a welcoming and inclusive public space.
Items created using the laser machine are presented as is, with no cleaning.
Items must be picked up within 3 days after email confirmation is sent and by the individual who submitted the job. Items not picked up after 3 days will become the property of FCFI and may be discarded.
What is a laser machine?
A laser machine, also known as a laser engraver or a laser cutter, uses highly focused and amplified light to cut and/or etch a design onto material. The FCFI Makerspace has a Glowforge laser machine that can cut or engrave (or both) on materials like wood, plastic, acrylic, fabrics, and other materials. The machine can be used for both two dimensional and three dimensional design which means you can engrave detailed graphics, cut intricate patterns and/or create 3D objects.
Laser engraving (or etching): The laser moves horizontally along the surface of the material you are using and etches (burns) the surface of the material creating a shape, graphic, or picture.
Laser cutting: The laser is used to burn (cut) all the way through the material.
Where do I start?
If you are new to using a laser machine and wish to learn the basics the best place to start is with Instructables. Instructables has easy, interactive tutorials which teach the basics of design and modeling.
How do I use the laser machine?
You will be required to complete a one-time mandatory Laser Machine orientation and sign a Makerspace User Agreement (must be signed in person). Once you have passed the training with 100% and completed the User Agreement you can submit your jobs in person to a Makerspace Technician.You will be asked to complete a Laser Machine Design Checklist and review your submission.
Please note: Operation of the laser machine is restricted to the Makerspace Technicians.
What materials can be used with the FCFI Makerspace laser machine?
The materials approved for use with the FCFI Makerspace Laser Machine are 3 mm Baltic birch and 3 mm acrylic sheets.
Baltic birch: Purchase at the Library Desk on the Main Floor. If you wish to purchase elsewhere, ensure that the sheet is not larger than 12"x24", as that is the maximum size of the laser bed.
Acrylic: Purchase at the Library Desk on the Main Floor. If you wish to purchase elsewhere, check with a Makerspace Technician first and provide a safety data sheet (SDS) and the thickness (in millimetres) of the acrylic you plan to use.
Other materials: If you wish to use material other than Baltic birch or acrylic, it must be approved in advance by the Makerspace Supervisor. Provide a Makerspace Technician with the safety data sheet (SDS) and the thickness (in millimetres) of the material. It may take time to investigate whether the material can be used safely with our machine.
There are two main reasons the proposed material may not be approved for use:
- Some materials emit hazardous or toxic fumes. Materials that cannot be used include:
- Leather and artificial leather containing chromium (VI)
- Carbon fibers (carbon)
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
- Polyvinyl butyrale (PVB)
- Polytetrafluoroethylenes (PTFE /Teflon)
- Beryllium oxide
- Any materials containing halogens (fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine and astatine), epoxy or phenolic resins
- The laser machine uses different attachments for different materials. If we do not have the correct attachment, we will not approve your request.
What can I create with the laser machine?
While the possibilities may seem endless, there are some limitations: some designs may be too large for our machine, the material cannot be used in our space, or we do not have the necessary laser head.
What is the difference between the red line and the black lines in my design?
When you submit a file for a project that requires both engraving and cutting you will need to identify which lines are to be cut (red) and which lines are to be engraved (black). The Makerspace Technicians can provide you with assistance on this part of your project.
If you are new to engraving and cutting and wish to learn the basics, start with Instructables. This software allows you to create a wide variety of graphics, convert your jpg images into an svg (scalable vector graphic) file, or download an existing design.
Find or create your own design
You can create your own laser design using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software or you can find existing ready-to-cut designs online. Many online designs are free, while others you need to purchase. Some sites to try include:
- Box Designer
- Epilog Laser
- Make a Box
- Thingiverse (available at RDC Library)
Another way to create designs is to download picture files from the Internet. You must conform to Copyright Rules. Use only copyright-friendly images.
To convert images to laser printable files we recommend using Inkscape
When you are ready to submit your design please ensure the file meets these specifications:
- File dimensions must be provided in millimeters and the file format must be SVG.
- Files must be submitted on a USB drive.
- Each separate part of your request must be submitted as a single file.
- Submit a Laser Machine Design Checklist with each file.
- Any files we receive are assumed to be final versions and laser ready. Staff will review the submission and will follow up if modifications are required.
- Users are responsible for making any design modifications and resubmitting the changes. Technicians will not make modifications to a file on your behalf. Examples of modifications include:
- Adding or removing elements
- Increasing or decreasing the item size
- Maximum size: 12"x24"
- drawings should be slightly smaller to fit within these dimensions
- Personal jobs: Limited to a 5"x5" surface area per week.
Submissions will generally be made on a first-come, first-served basis in the order they are received and approved. We endeavour to print the oldest item in the queue first; however, priority will be given to RDC students and RDC related projects in the following order:
- Projects or assignments related to RDC coursework
- Other academic and personal RDC student, faculty, or staff projects
You will be notified by email when item(s) are ready for pickup. Your pickup date depends on a number of factors, including your position in the queue. We cannot guarantee pickup dates so please submit jobs well in advance.
Items made in the laser machine:
- are presented as is.
- must be picked up within 3 days after email confirmation is sent.
- must be picked up by the individual who submitted the file.
Items not picked up after 3 days will become the property of RDC and may be discarded.
Who can use the laser engraving/cutting service?
The service is offered to FCFI Members and Faculty.
How much does it cost to use the laser machine?
There is a fee for use of the machine, and materials cost
How long will my laser job take?
Laser engraving and cutting time varies depending on the size and complexity of your design. Most projects take 30 minutes or less.
After submitting your laser job to a Makerspace Technician your file needs to be assessed and added to the laser queue. There is a waiting period before your design is produced. Student assignments will take priority in the queue.
You will receive an email when your project is available for pickup from the FCFI Makerspace. The amount owing for the usage charge is included in the email.
How soon will my item be ready for pickup?
Your pickup date depends on your position in the queue. We cannot guarantee pickup dates, so please submit jobs well in advance. You will be notified by email when your item is ready for pickup. Any items not picked up within 3 days of the email notification will become the property of FCFI Makersapce and may be disposed of.
What if my job fails?
Sometimes designs fail due to technical issues with the design. Makerspace Technicians will strive to identify issues prior to cutting/engraving and may recommend revisions to your design. We cannot guarantee the success and quality of the object.