Laser cutter

Two laser cut keychains

What is it?

Laser cutting is a technology primarily dedicated to cutting, engraving, and marking materials.

What can I do with it?

You can make prototypes, add creative flourishes to items, and more! Use the laser cutter to cut or engrave materials such as wood, paper, cardboard, fabrics, and certain types of plastic. The laser cutter can engrave some materials, such as glass and stone, but not cut them.

Read our policies before coming in to use the machine.

How can I get certified?

Interested in learning more about laser cutting? We offer a free certification program for those who want to dive deeper into laser cutter operation and safety. Whether you’re certified with us or not, our staff is available to help you create your projects.

If you get certified with us, you'll have more freedom and flexibility to use our equipment on your own. This certification only applies to the laser cutter located in the iSpace. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Review the learning module.
  2. Complete the quiz.
  3. Attend an in-person training session.

Steps 1 and 2 should take about 30 minutes total to complete. Within a week after you pass the quiz, we’ll contact you to schedule a session where you’ll work hands-on with our laser cutter and learn about setup, operation, and safety.

Who can use it?

Priority is for UA students, faculty, and staff, but non-affiliates may also use the equipment, subject to availability. You're welcome to drop by the iSpace during our open hours where one of our staff members can help you with your project. 

How much does it cost?

Each job costs $2 for every 10 minutes of cutting/engraving time plus the cost of materials (if applicable). The library has several materials available for purchase or you can bring your own material. An iSpace staff member must approve any material you bring before cutting or engraving. See a list of acceptable materials below and email us if you have any questions.

Make your payment prior to pickup.

Not sure what material you should use? Come in during our open hours and an iSpace staff member can help you decide.

Materials for purchase

Material type

12x12 in

12x24 in

15x24 in

Baltic birch plywood 1/8"

$2

Unavailable

$4
Baltic birch plywood 1/4" $2 $4 Unavailable

Acrylic (variety of colors)

$5.50

$11

Unavailable

Rapid prototyping materials such as cardboard ($0.50 per sheet) and MDF ($1.00 per sheet) are also available.

Acceptable materials

All materials you bring in are subject to approval by iSpace staff. The following list is just a guide, so it is not exhaustive.

Material

Cut

Engrave

Notes

Wood

Yes

Yes

Most wood-based products, including solid wood and plywood, are excellent for cutting and engraving. Engineered woods, such as MDF, still work but might char more when cutting. Avoid oily or resinous woods.

Acrylics

Yes

Yes

Cloth and fabric

Yes

Yes

No plastic-coated or impregnated cloth.

Paper products and matte board

Yes

Yes

High fire risk, monitor closely.

Cork

Yes

Yes

Leather

Yes

Yes

Genuine leather only. No "pleather" or anything containing vinyl.

Rubber

Yes

Yes

Only rubber that contains no chlorine.

Polyester sheet (Mylar)

Yes

Yes

Great for stencils.

Anodized aluminum

No

Yes

The laser can't mark bare metals, but it can burn away the anodizing to make designs.

Glass

No

Yes

Only flat glass.

Marble, granite, other stone

No

Yes

Ceramics

No

Yes

What are the laser cutter's technical specifications?

Work limits

  • Cutting/engraving area: 16 x 24 in (406 x 609 mm)
  • Maximum material thickness: 4.5 in (114 mm)
  • Maximum cutting thickness (1 pass polished edge): .3 in (7.94 mm)
  • Maximum cutting thickness (1 pass reduced edge quality): .5 in (12.7 mm)

Filetypes

  • Vector file types supported: DXF, AI (version 8), DST, PLT, LAS
  • Raster file types supported: JPG, BMP, GIF, TIF, PNG, TGA
  • The laser cutter may support other file types. Contact us if you have a specific need not listed here.

Laser

  • Type: 50-watt max CO2 laser
  • Wavelength: 10.6 microns (infrared, invisible to the naked eye)