Responding to COVID-19

Chat and email with us from 9am-9pm, 7 days a week! The Weaver Library is open Sunday through Friday 9am-9pm, and Saturday 9am-5pm. We’re providing limited services in the Main Library lobby. The Health Sciences Library is open to Health Sciences affiliates. Learn more about access during COVID-19.

Laser cutting

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?

New users can register for a certification, offered weekly. If you are unable to attend a certification session, please contact us to arrange an alternative training time. 

Register for Laser Cutter Certification

Who can use it?

If you are certified, you can book time on the laser cutter in advance. Reservations are for laser cutting time only, not design setup. Please have your file downloaded and ready to be cut, or come in to CATalyst prior to your reservation for help preparing your file.

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 during our open hours where one of our staff members can help you with your project. 

Book time on the Laser Cutter

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. A CATalyst 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 a CATalyst staff member can help you decide.

Materials for purchase

Material type

12x12 in

12x24 in

24x36 in

Baltic birch plywood 1/8"

$2

$4

$8
Baltic birch plywood 1/4" $4 $6 $10
Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) 1/8" $2 $4 Unavailable
Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) 1/4" $4 $6 Unavailable

Acrylic (variety of colors) 1/8"

$4

$9

Unavailable

Acrylic (variety of colors) 1/4"

$7 $15 Unavailable

Rapid prototyping materials such as cardboard ($0.50 per sheet) and miscellaneous scraps available.

Acceptable materials

All materials you bring in are subject to approval by CATalyst 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

Marble, granite, other stone

No

Yes

Ceramics

No

Yes

What are the laser cutter's technical specifications?

Work limits

  • Cutting/engraving area: 36 x 48 in ( mm)
  • Maximum cutting thickness (1 pass): .75 in (mm)

Filetypes

  • Vector file types supported: DXF, AI, 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: 80-watt max CO2 laser
  • Wavelength: 10.6 microns (infrared, invisible to the naked eye)