What is a laser cutter?
This machine can cut materials with a laser very precisely. It measures approx. 1 meter broad, 1 meter high and 80cm deep.
The laser cutter can cut wooden plates, cardboard or plexi glass.
It cuts so precise that 2D parts can be assembled with a perfect fit, i.e. without using glue or screws.
With this machine you can also engrave e.g. photos, logos, etc. on all kinds of materials (mirrors, wood, plexi, …).
The maximum thickness of materials that can be cut is 9mm and the largest plate that fits in the machine is 60x30 cm.
Layout of a drawing
Document and program
Each drawing program can create a .pdf and that’s all you need. However, we recommend Inkscape (an .svg-file), as this is for free and very reliable. It matches the commercial packages such as Illustrator and Coreldraw. Inkscape works what they call “vectorial” and this is necessary to be able to cut with the laser machine. The laser cutter needs these ‘vector’ lines to be able to cut.
A link to a basic tutorial (and other tutorials) or Inkscape, you can find here. For tutorials in Dutch we refer to our own tutorials on the key chain and clock.
Layout of a drawing
For the laser cutter you need files that have been made in a 2D- or 3D drawing program. For the lines that you want to cut, you take the thinnest possible line in your software package.
The laser cutter has 3 settings: engraving, cutting and 'fast-cutting' (= thin cutting line which does not cut through the material). In order to be able to use these three, you need to use the correct settings in your drawing program.
|Mode||Color||RGB values in your software package||What do you use it for ?|
Besides these RGB values of the lines and surfaces, also the Alpha- (A) and Opacity- (O) values are important. A must always be 255 and O always 100!
When you want to engrave a picture, this needs to be a picture saved as a .jpeg file. In order to create this, we can recommend a free program: GIMP.Attention: drawings that have been made in GIMP or Photoshop can only be engraved, not cut!
Points of concern file
- The maximum size of a drawing is 60x30 cm (600 x 300 mm). This is similar to the maximum size of panels that fit in our machines (and that you can buy here).
- The line thickness within the file needs to be 0,1mm in all lines.
- Your file does not contain double cutting lines.
- No combines on lines (mainly problematic at Solid Works and Solid Edge !!)
- Make polylines from your lines. This means that all nodes on a contour must be connected !
- Ideally your file does not contain groups/grouped elements. Possibly the laser gives an error notification when there are groups in the file. In Inkscape you can remove groups by using shortcuts Ctrl+U or Ctrl+Shift+G. You apply this after having selected everything in your file (Ctrl+A).
- No lines outside your paper format (always use the max paper format 600x300mm) - best is to keep a few mm distance form the borders.
- In order to decrease errors for laser cutting, it's best that you don't apply filters and don't crop elements.
- Clones of elements should not be linked.
What can be cut and engraved?
In the price list you can see what materials we sell.
Of course, you're not obliged to use FabLab materials. You can alsobring your own materials. In case you want to use your own material, you'll first need to ask us and you'll also need to know what material exactly you are bringing, otherwise the material is not allowed in our machines!! Some materials can release toxic damps when being laser cut. E.g. PVC cannot be cut in the laser cutter, as chlorine gas can evaporate. As for now ONLY paper, cardboard, MDF and PMMA (plexi acryl) can be used in the laser cutter.
At FabLab Leuven we have 6 laser cutters, wit which we can cut materials with a maximum thickness of 9mm. For the materials that we sell ourselves, we know the settings. When you bring your own material, try to bring some extra for us in order to be able to test the settings.
While using the laser cutter, you remain at the machine all the time. Otherwise we will stop the machine and your turn will go to the next person waiting.