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>>> Reserve a Laser Cutter <<<


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  • the laser cutter


How to Prepare Your File

How to Use the Laser Cutter



Lime powder MSDS

Laser Cutter Policies

  • 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 these laser cutter or any other Technology Lab policies will result in privileges being revoked
  • Operating the laser cutter without (a) being trained AND (b) paying the subscription fee 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 cutter cutters the student, faculty, or staff must (1) have gone through a laser cutter training session for the laser cutter in question and (2) have a valid reservation made through the Service Desk.
  • Reservations for the laser cutter must be made in person at the Service Desk and the cost is $5.00 per hour.
  • The minimum reservation length is 30 minutes, the maximum reservation length is 3 hours.
  • Each user is limited to a maximum of 3 hours per week of laser cutter reservations. Each week begins when the lab opens Monday and ends at lab closing on Sunday night. Same-day reservations do not count against your weekly limit and may be reserved without any limits.
  • During times of high use, a wait list will be made available at the Service Desk. If you do not arrive within 15 minutes of your scheduled start time, staff will make the laser cutter available to the top of the wait list. If you are going to be more than 15 minutes late for your reservation, call the Service Desk at 512-471-4817 to avoid losing the rest of your time.
    • 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.
      • Certain materials require close supervision, but you should still avoid looking directly at the combustion/vaporization.
    • 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
    If you notice that the laser cutter requires cleaning or maintenance, please notify the computer lab staff at 512-471-1189 immediately, any reservation time lost to maintenance or cleaning will be reimbursed with equivalent time or with returned BevoBucks
    • .
  • Operating the laser cutter in any unsafe way can result in a fine up to the amount of damage caused to your health and/or the laser cutter. These guidelines are covered in the laser cutter training session. For example, a replacement lens for the XL-12000 costs $800 
    • 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.
  • There will be a $50 fine assessed for operating the laser cutter without a reservation.
  • There will be a $200 fine assessed for operating the laser cutter without the appropriate training, with another $200 fine for the person who allowed you access to the system.
  • If you are having EID access problems with the laser cutter systems, contact Service Desk at 512-471-1189. Only the Service Desk staff are permitted to give you access to the system. Do not get another student to log in for you, as this can result in the fines listed above.
  • Students with outstanding fines will not be permitted to use any Service Desk resources until the fines are paid in full.
  • Laser cutter reservations must be canceled 24 hours in advance in order to receive a refund. Cancellations within 24 hours will only be refunded if the original reservation holder finds another person to take the reservation. This policy also applies to unused time at the end of a reservation.  
  • Laser cutter reservations are non-transferable, the person listed on the reservation must be present during the operation of the laser cutter for their reservation. The applies to group projects. The person on the reservation is the person who is officially responsible for the laser cutter during their reservation.
  • In the event of laser cutter downtime due to repairs or other unforeseen circumstances, users will be notified by email and reimbursed with a new reservation or on their bevobucks upon their next visit to Service Desk.
      • Prohibited Materials list
        • Many of the Prohibited Materials emit toxic gas
      • Tampering with the laser cutter's safety mechanisms

      • Turning off the Air Assist feature

      • '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 into the laser cutter bed or releasing toxic fumes.  Due to the severity of the risk, cutting prohibited materials will result in the 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
  • MDF

Please note that the Co-op sells material that looks like acrylic but is made of PVC and styrene. These materials emit toxic gas and destroy the optics of the laser and lens, effectively rendering the laser cutter useless.
** Our CO2 laser cutters can etch certain coated metals; they cannot cut metal.

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:

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ServiceLaser Cutting

Last UpdatedFall 2022