What is laser cutting?
Laser cutting is a process where a high-powered laser is directed by computer software to cut or etch various types of materials. The FabLab laser cutting machines can process flat materials and are able to achieve three types of outcomes:
- Cutting vector lines to create shapes with straight and/or curved edges
- Etching vector lines/patterns onto the material surface
- Rastering filled areas to create patterns on the material surface
All three outcomes can be combined in a single job to create intricate 2D shapes and surface patterns to compliment even the most intricate of model designs. Laser cutters are excellent for precise facade patternation on a final model, or iterating quickly through a series of design variables.
Our laser machines
Our laser cutters are the most highly utilised equipment in the FabLab processing over a thousand jobs each semester. Demand increases around key submission deadlines throughout semester, during these peak periods jobs can take several days to process. Please submit jobs well in advance during these times.
Epilog Fusion Pro 48
We have one Epilog Fusion Pro 48 laser cutter, Epilog’s newest machine, which uses a top-of-the-line motion control system and an industry leading optics system.
- Materials: Timber, Acrylic, Card, Polypropylene.
- Cutting Area: 1200mm L x 900mm W x 8mm H
Epilog Fusion M2 40
We have 2 x Epilog Fusion M2 40 laser cutters, and 1 x Epilog Fusion 40. Whilst slightly older model machines, they are still a very reliable and accurate machines.
- Materials: Timber, Acrylic, Card, Polypropelene.
- Cutting Area: 900mm L x 600mm W x 8mm H
Why use laser cutting?
Laser cutting enables the fast and precise cutting, etching or rastering of materials for immediate use or further fabrication and model making.
Laser cutting can be used in the fabrication of architectural models, site models, 1:1 prototypes, decorative objects and more. The precision and speed of laser cutting enables clean outcomes and the production of shapes which can be assembled into presentation-quality models.
The FabLab offers a range of training to help you learn how laser cutters work, how to setup a file for laser cutting and how to submit it for processing. This training includes:
The Introduction to Laser Cutting playlist, found in the Training Center, provides a comprehensive introduction to the technology, file preparation and submission process required for the FabLab. This is an excellent resource to start with.
Laser Cutter Introductory Sessions
If you prefer to learn about the fundamentals in person, each week a range of sessions are scheduled. For a full list of sessions, check the events page.
Laser Cutter Expansion Sessions
If you want to learn advanced techniques with the laser cutters, these are the sessions for you. Over the semester a range of sessions will be scheduled - each focusing on a particular technique or skill. You can come to one session or all to get a detailed understanding of the tech. For a full list of sessions, check the events page.
You can book a consultation with the FabLab’s experienced staff to get help with complex technical challenges specific to your project. Before making a booking, it is expected that you have completed the Introductory and Expansion sessions and attempted to resolve the problem independently. For a full list of consultation sessions, check the events page.
ABP students and staff are welcome to submit jobs to be processed by the FabLab laser cutters. If you are new to the FabLab simply follow the instructions below to submit a job. If you are an old hand at laser cutting through the FabLab simply submit a job.
Students are not permitted to enter the laser cutting room unless escorted by a staff member. For any enquiries please ask the [Guru] or an available staff member. Please do not disturb staff members in the Laser Cutting room.
How to submit
You can submit a laser cutting job at any time, day or night, and it will be processed by FabLab staff during open hours on weekdays.
To laser cut at the FabLab you must create a 2D file in Rhino3D and submit it to the FabLab job centre.
Create a 2D laser cutting file
In order to laser cut, you must create a 2D laser cutting file. To learn how to create and setup a file please follow the video tutorials in the Training Centre.
Download the Template File
Prepared geometry should be imported into the Laser Cutting Template File:
- Name each sheet and specify chosen material.
- Assign geometry to the correct layers of the Template File (Cut, Etch and Raster).
- Nest the geometry to reduce material usage and fabrication time.
When you are confident your model has been set up in accordance with FabLab requirements you can submit it to FabLab. To do this, click the button below.
Collect from FabLab
You will be notified by email when your job is complete. Please come to the FabLab during opening hours to pay for and collect your laser cut.
Unfortunately we are unable to predict the price of laser cutting jobs accurately, so we do not estimate job costs. The lasers are heavily subsidised for students allowing our prices to be much lower than standard industry pricing. Jobs are charged at $1.00 per minute of cutting time plus material costs.
What materials can I laser cut with at the FabLab?
FabLab has a list of materials which students may laser cut with. Click here for material availability and pricing.
Students can bring material from other suppliers, but it must be accompanied by a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) which can be obtained from the material supplier. Laser cutting materials must be a maximum size of 600 x 900mm.
How long does laser cutting take?
The MSD laser cutters are the most highly utilised equipment in the FabLab processing over a thousand jobs each semester. Production peaks towards assignment deadlines and as such processing times inevitably increase. Therefore it is recommended to submit jobs well in advance of any deadlines as FabLab can not guarantee a completion date/time.
How much does laser cutting cost?
Laser cutting is priced at a rate of $1.00 per minute plus material cost. It is in the interest of students to nest sheets efficiently and reuse previously used sheet material to reduce material cost. For more information on how to do this, please read the Laser Cutting Guidelines from the Downloads section.
What happens if there is an error in my file?
Depending on the severity of the error, your job may either be placed on hold or cancelled and you will be sent an email explaining the error. If you would like further information or help on how to set up a laser cutting file, please visit the Training Centre.