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Multimodal Education Center

Laser Cutting

laser cutting examples

What is it?

Laser cutting is a technology primarily dedicated to cutting, engraving, and marking materials. The Multimodal Education Center offers laser cutting as both a service and teachable skill.

Due to their flexibility and ease-of-use, lasers are a great tool for test setups and prototypes. Drawings and designs can be sent directly from the CAD or graphics program to the laser. Applications for educational uses of such technology include:

  • Prototype construction
  • Test setups
  • Research projects
  • Art projects
  • Design projects
  • Digital production of 3D models
  • DIY projects
  • Industrial design
  • And More!

We house the Glowforge Plus and invite you to search their website for ideas and inspiration.

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. A guide to laser-compatible materials is available on the Glowforge website.

Who can use it?

Anyone! Laser cutting at the MEC is open to CWU students, staff, and faculty, as well as community members. However, if you are not a CWU student, staff, or faculty member, payments can only be made in cash or check.

What if I've never designed a laser cut?

The MEC offers a weekly laser cutting workshop on Wednesdays from 1p - 2p in Samuelson 126. We will teach you how to design a laser cutting file in Adobe Illustrator and can consult on independent projects. If you are unable to attend the workshop, email mec@cwu.edu and we can arrange another time that works for you.

How much does it cost?

There is no cost to use the laser cutter! The MEC does offer sheets of material for use in our laser cutter at the following prices:

  • Acrylic - $5acrylic laser cutting example
  • Bamboo - $10
  • Carboard - $0.50

You may bring your own materials but we reserve the right to refuse cutting materials we deem unsafe or inappropriate for use in laser cutting. Typically, this is because the burnt product results in chemical fumes that are either toxic or will ruin the electronics in our machine. MEC Staff will require a minimum 1" x 1" sample of your material in order to establish appropriate settings on our machine. Proofgrade materials, which have predetermined settings and are designed specifically for laser cutting, can be purchased directly from the Glowforge website and will not require a sample square. Review our Laser Cutting Material Guidelines before purchasing any material for use with the MEC laser cutter. 

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

Are there any designs I can't order?

The MEC will not laser cut designs that are under copywrite or any weapons. We also reserve the right to refuse any laser cutting request.

Do I get to operate the laser cutter?

No, at this time operation of the laser cutter is limited to MEC Staff who have been trained on its safe and proper use. However, you are welcome to watch while we cut your order.

What are the laser cutter's technical specifications?

Work limits

  • Maximum material size: 18" x 20.4"
  • Cutting/engraving area: 11" x 19.5" 
  • Maximum material thickness: 2"
  • Maximum cutting thickness: 1/4"

File types

Engraving (Raster Files)

  • Photographs
  • Hand Drawn and Scanned Artwork
  • Photoshop, Gimp, and CoreIPaint Artwork
  • Common extensions: JPG, JPEG, PNG, BMP, PSD

Cutting (Vector Files)

  • ClipArt
  • Dingbats
  • CAD Drawings and Line Art
  • Fonts
  • Illustrator, Inkscape, and CoreIDraw Artwork
  • Common extensions: SVG, DXF, AI, CDR, EPS

 

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