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General

  • If the laser cutter computers aren't logged in, notify staff at the Technology Desk. Only the Technology Desk staff are permitted to give you access to the system. Do not log in using your own EID credentials, as the software is only configured under our account.
  • Infractions of laser cutter or any other Technology Lab policies will result in privileges being revoked.
  • Operating the laser cutter without being trained AND paying the subscription for the semester will result in privileges being revoked.
  • If you notice that the laser cutter requires cleaning or maintenance, please notify the Technology Desk staff immediately in person or by calling 512-471-1189.

Certification and Subscription

  • In order to use the laser cutters the student, faculty, or staff must
    • be a member of the School of Architecture community (students, faculty, or staff) AND
    • purchase a subscription for the semester AND 
    • complete online laser cutter training AND
    • be certified for laser cutter use by a member of the Technology Desk staff.

Health and Safety

  • Although this system uses a CO2 laser that could damage your eyes or skin with direct contact, it uses both a system of safety interlocks and an IR-absorbing window on the top door, making the laser cutter safe to use without goggles or other safety gear.
    • Please note that the intense light that appears during the engraving or cutting process is the product of material combustion or vaporization. DO NOT STARE AT THE BRIGHT LIGHT or risk damage to your eyes.
    • Additionally, the Red Dot Pointer that appears on the material is just a positioning help, not the laser beam itself, however, DO NOT STARE at the Red Dot Pointer or risk damage to your eyes.
    • Lastly, the machine doors are safety interlocked and will disable the CO2 laser beam from firing when the doors are opened. The Red Dot Pointer is NOT safety interlocked and can be activated with the door(s) either open or closed.
  • Operating the laser cutter in any unsafe way can result in damage caused to the laser cutter, which costs the school money.
    • Unsafe practices include (but are not limited to):
      • Leaving the laser cutter unattended while it is running.
      • Cutting materials that are not on the acceptable materials list.
      • Tampering with the laser cutter's safety mechanisms.

      • Turning off the Air Assist feature, especially when vector cutting. Consult with Tech Desk staff for possible exemptions.

      • 'Sandwiching' more flammable material between less-flammable materials. (i.e. a sheet of cardboard between two layers of chipboard, etc.) The result could easily be a FIRE!
  • IN CASE OF FIRE, IMMEDIATELY PRESS THE EMERGENCY STOP BUTTON (located on top of the laser) AND USE THE FIRE EXTINGUISHER (located near the door). 

Prohibited Materials

Using prohibited materials could result in the material melting to the laser cutter bed or releasing toxic fumes.  Due to the severity of the risk, cutting prohibited materials will result in loss of lab privileges and fines for damages.  

  • Lexan
  • Polyurethane
  • PVC*
  • Styrene

  • Polycarbonate
  • Vinyl
  • ABS (3D prints are made with this)
  • Foam Core
  • Foamboard
  • Metal**
  • Chloride-based materials

  • Felt


Please note that the Co-op sells material that looks like acrylic but is made of PVC and styrene. These materials destroy the optics of the laser and lens, effectively rendering the laser cutter useless.
** Our laser cutters can etch certain coated metals; they cannot cut metal.

ATX Hackerspace also has a list of materials that should never be used for laser cutting: http://atxhackerspace.org/wiki/Laser_Cutter_Materials#NEVER_CUT_THESE_MATERIALS.

Questionable Materials

Consult with Tech Desk Staff for approval 

  • Wood, ie. plywood with potentially flammable adhesives 

  • Soft materials like leather  

  • Reflective materials

For more information on materials that can possibly be cut (not all materials listed are approved by SOA IT), please see: https://www.lasercuttingshapes.com/page/materials.

Another valuable resource: http://atxhackerspace.org/wiki/Laser_Cutter_Materials.