Fabrication Lab

General Laser Cutting Guidelines

  • The use of the laser cutters is restricted to the academic work of PennDesign students only. You may not use it for personal projects, work for professional firms, or for academic work outside of PennDesign.
  • Faculty may not use the laser cutters unless they are working under the Praxis program.
  • Students may not operate the laser cutters. Only trained personnel may operate these machines. Any student who attempts to operate these machines will lose laser cutting privileges for the remainder of the semester.
  • In order to budget time efficiently and reduce errors and re-cuts, students must be present while their files are being cut in order to answer any questions that may arise, or to be advised of any remedial CAD work that may be required.
  • The laser operators cannot correct or draw your files for you. You may not use the computers in the laser rooms to correct or draw your files.
  • All work must be completed within your scheduled time slot. Corrupt files, unsuitable materials, experimentation, etc. all count against your time.
  • Only materials posted on the “Laser Suitable Materials” handout may be cut on the lasers.
  • Students must supply all materials. PennDesign does not supply any materials.
  • Students must remove all cut-off, waste and garbage from the laser rooms and clean up after themselves when finished.
  • Come prepared to your appointment.
  • You may not bring work to the laser cutters until you have read and understood all notices and guidelines posted in the laser rooms.
  • Students are required to maintain a high level of respect for the laser operators. Disrespect will result in immediate suspension of laser cutter privileges.

Online Laser Scheduling

Schedule Location

Permissible Number of Slots

  • Students may sign up for a maximum of TWO thirty-minute time slots per week (one hour in total per week).
  • All other unused time slots are available on a first-come first-served walk-in basis.
  • If you sign up for more than two timeslots per week, ALL of your timeslots for that week will be deleted and your laser scheduling login will be suspended for a week.  Logins may be reinstated only after an interview with the Lab manager.

Weekly Activation Schedule

  • The laser week runs from Saturday to Friday.  The schedule for the new week will become available at 11:00 AM on preceding Fridays.
  • For example, at 11:00 AM on Friday, October 9, the sign-up for Saturday, October 10 through Friday, October 16, will become active.

  • Important Notes

  • You must sign up under your own name only, using your own log-in.  You may not sign up using any other person’s name or under anyone else’s log-in.
    When you are caught trying to sign up for someone else or under a name other than your own, all of your timeslots will be deleted and your laser cutting privileges may be suspended for the entire semester.
  • You yourself must show up for your appointment.  You may not send a proxy.
  • Show up promptly for your scheduled time.  If you are more that five minutes late, you will forfeit your time to the first available student.
  • Cancel your appointment online if you no longer need it.  
  • Report to the laser for which you signed up!  If you show up at a different laser it will be interpreted and processed as a missed appointment.
  • Three incidences of failure to show up for your scheduled time in one semester will result in suspension of your laser cutting privileges for the remainder of the semester. 
  • Dennis Pierattini will resolve all scheduling conflicts.  Do not approach the laser operators or faculty members to resolve conflicts.  Students are reminded that disrespect to the laser operator will result in an indefinite suspension of laser cutting privileges.  

Laser Schedule Access Registration

Online Registration

  • Log in to http://penndesign.calendarhost.com.
  • Navigate to the login screen.
  • Click on “I am a new user”.
  • Fill out the “Add User” form.
  • At “User ID” enter your PennKey.  Your PennKey is the username at the beginning of your Penn email address.  For example, Mary Smith, whose email address is smithm@design.upenn.edu, would enter “smithm”.  Bill Jones, whose email address is jonesb@sas.upenn.edu, would enter “jonesb”
  • At “Password” enter a password that is strong but easy to remember.  DO NOT use your Pennkey password.  The login website is NOT secure.
  • Enter your name as it appears on your PennID.
  • Enter your Penn email address.
  • Click the “Submit” button.

Please note that “Your request for EDIT permission was not automatically granted” and that your request to use the calendar must be processed before you will be able to make laser appointments.

Email Request

You must email a request for laser access to “Laser Access” (laseracc@design.upenn.edu).  You MUST send this request from your Penn email address.  Please include your full name and your PennKey name.  Do not include ANY passwords.  For example, format the email as follows:

“I am requesting access to the PennDesign Online Laser Schedule.  I have already completed the online registration.  My full name is Mary Smith and my PennKey is smithm.”

This request MUST be sent from your Penn email address.  Requests sent from any other email address will not be considered.

Requests will be processed as quickly as possible, Monday through Friday, during normal business hours.  Please note that NO requests will be processed during the weekends or evenings. 

AutoCAD Guidelines

Laser Template

  • Please read the “Working with the AutoCAD Laser Cutter File” for complete information.
  • All parts to be cut in AutoCAD must be drawn in the Laser Cutting Template available on the JUNO server at \\JUNO\Public\LaserCutter\LaserCutter File.
  • Please use the Laser Cutting Template to ensure your file is properly formatted. If your file is not properly formatted the laser operator will not cut your file.

Drawing

  • Draw everything in AutoCAD. Files drawn in other programs that are then imported or pasted into AutoCAD will cause problems.
  • Use only the six standard “index” colors: red, yellow, green, cyan, blue and white. No “true color”.
  • For smoother cuts, all continuous line segments should be joined using the PEDIT/JOIN command.
  • All line widths should remain at “0.00” thickness. Line Thickness settings for all layers are accessible in the “Layer Properties Manager” window. If you want scored lines to be thicker, do multiple .004” offsets. If this is unacceptable, the laser system is capable of engraving virtually any thickness line. However, this involves raster engraving rather than vector scoring and requires considerably more time.

Before Your Appointment

  • Erase all stray lines.
  • Remove all overlapping and duplicate lines. The laser will double cut overlapping lines with very negative results. Use the OVERKILL command.
  • When importing files from RHINO, please refer to the “If you Must draw in Rhino” sheet posted in the laser room.
  • In AutoCad, it is possible to have multiple cut templates in a single file. Please ensure that any file you bring strictly follows the Laser Cutting Template format, is well organized and is ready to cut.
  • Delete all unnecessary information from your file.

About The Laser

  • The laser’s kerf is approximately .008” centered on the drawn line. This will cause the parts that are cut to be slightly smaller than what is drawn. This fact is normally insignificant, but if it is critical to your work, please make a note of it.
  • The rule of thumb for spacing between discrete parts is to allow at least half of the thickness of the material between relatively parallel cuts, particularly on acrylics. For example, if you are using ¼” acrylic, allow 1/8” spacing between individual parts

Working with the Laser Cutter Template

Download

  • 
Download the laser cutting file template from the Juno server. 
  • Go to \\Juno\Public\DigitalFabrication\LaserCutter-Template\
  • Open or download the file named “Laser Cutter File.dwg”.

Drawing

  • The “0” layer represents the laser’s maximum bed size of 32” x 18”.   The laser operators use this for targeting alignment when plotting.  If you change this size, your parts will not cut correctly.
  • You must either draw your parts to be cut in this drawing, or cut and paste parts from another AutoCAD file into this file.
  • Parts pasted into the drawing will retain their original layer names.  You must place these parts onto their new appropriate layers and delete the old layers.
  • Delete all unnecessary information from your file.
  • All parts must be placed within the dotted lines of the “Bleed_Boundary” layer.  The effective cutting area is  31 ½” x 17 ½”

Altering The Template File

  • You may not alter the size of the rectangle in the “0” layer.
  • You must use the layers provided (i.e., all parts to be cut must be placed on the magenta cut layer, all parts to be scored must be placed on the blue vector score layer).
  • You may make additional layers named “innercut03”, innercut04”, etc. as needed.
  • You may make copies of the 32” x 18” box in the “0” layer for larger files or for files with multiple materials.

Thou Shall Nots . . .

  • Thou shall not use this file for anything but laser cutting.  (Plotting from this file will embed information that conflicts with the laser drivers.)
  • Thou shall not scale the original page layout.
  • Thou shall not come to the laser cutter with any AutoCAD file formatted in any way other than described above.  You will be turned away. 

Illustrator Guidelines

Before You Draw

  • In “Document Setup”, set Artboard Width to 32” and Height to 18”. All parts to be cut or scored must be ¼” inside this perimeter to avoid bleed problems. Effectively, this makes the cutting area 31-1/2” x 17-1/2”.
  • Do NOT set up multiple artboards. Set up multiple files instead.
  • All drawings must be expressed in inches.

Drawing

  • Draw everything in Illustrator. Files drawn in other programs that are then imported or pasted into Illustrator will cause problems.
  • All lines on all layers must be set to black for laser cutting.
  • Lines to be cut or scored (rather than engraved) must be expressed as vectors. Select the lines, and in the “Window”, “Stroke”, drop-down menu assign these elements a stroke of .001. You must type this in; it is not an option to be selected.
  • Elements to be engraved, such as wider lines and filled artwork, must be expressed in raster mode—that is, they have a stroke and fill. Stroke weight should be set to .025 pt or higher. Fill must be set to black.
  • Separate layers must be used for parts to be cut, scored, or engraved. Name the layers “cut”, “score” and “engrave” respectively.
  • If you must transfer from Rhino, ensure that all line work is set to the solid black line setting. Beware of gray “ghost” line color, a gradient line color, or question marks in the line color box.
  • If you are unable to set your vector line work to the proper solid color and weight of “.001” after transferring from Rhino, check your Rhino drawing and export it again.

Before Your Appointment

  • Erase all stray lines.
  • Remove all overlapping and duplicate lines. The laser will double-cut overlapping lines, with very negative results.
  • Delete all unnecessary information from your file.

About The Laser

  • The laser’s kerf is approximately .008” centered on the drawn line. This will cause the parts that are cut to be slightly smaller than what is drawn. This fact is normally insignificant, but if it is critical to your work, please make a note of it.
  • The rule of thumb for spacing between discrete parts is to allow at least half of the thickness of the material between relatively parallel cuts, particularly on acrylics. For example, if you are using ¼” acrylic, allow 1/8” spacing between individual parts

Laser Suitable Materials

Cutting and Etching

  • Acrylic
  • Wood-Consult laser room charts for species-specific thicknesses.
  • Paper
  • Leather
  • Mylar
  • Matte Board
  • MDF (1/8” thick only)

Etching Only

  • Glass
  • Stone
  • Anodized Metals
  • Corian

Banned Materials

  • Rubber (All Forms)
  • Casting Resins
  • Polypropylene
  • Polycarbonate
  • Any material in the chloride/chlorine family (e.g. PVC-polyvinylchloride)
  • Felt
  • FoamCore
  • Polystyrene