Hogeschool van Amsterdam

Centre for Applied Research of the Faculty on Digital Media & Creative Industries

Laser cutter

Cutting with light!

A laser cutter can be used to cut materials such as cardboard, cotton, wood and Plexiglas® extremely accurately. The machine cuts wood, for instance, so precisely that separate parts can then be joined ‘dry’, without the need for glue or screws. Besides cutting, a laser cutter can also be used to engrave images, texts and logos onto almost any material.

Cutting process with laser

Using a lasercutter for cutting or engraving you need a ‘vector diagram’ created with a 2D drawing program such as Adobe Illustrator, AutoCAD, Inkscape or CorelDRAW. Engraving is done inside a framework of closed lines, so if you just want to engrave something, a JPG image will suffice. (See the Illustrator guide.) Besides the .ai files generated by Illustrator you can also import .dxf files, as generated by AutoCAD (see the AutoCAD guide).

Would you like to laser cut? Make an appointment. One of our staff members will give you instructions on how to use the laser cutter. This takes about 20 minutes.

The laser engraving process ‘damages’ the surface of the material by burning into it with a pre-determined intensity. This is quite a slow process; first you have to do tests to find out what intensity to use, and then the laser goes to work, in steps, within the contours of the drawing. When large areas are engraved the results are generally not of constant quality.

Engraving metal involves the use of a special paste. The Lab has more information on the use and cost of engraving paste.

You have to bring your own materials. Certain materials are forbidden because they give off combustion gases that are toxic or which contaminate the laser. The following materials may not be cut by laser:

  • PVC, Vinyl and some types of artificial leather
  • Fur

  • Maximum cutting bed dimensions, laser 1: 88 x 128 cm
  • Maximum cutting bed dimensions, laser 2: 88 x 128 cm
  • Maximum cutting bed dimensions, laser 3: 58 x 88 cm
  • Maximum material cutting thickness is 8mm
  • Metal, stone and glass can not be cut
  • Maximum engraving dimensions laser 1: 88 x 115 cm
  • Maximum engraving dimensions laser 2: 88 x 115 cm
  • Maximum engraving dimensions laser 3: 58 x 75 cm

Published by  CREATE-IT Applied Research 14 September 2020