Laser engravers use a high-powered laser to cut or engrave a wide range of materials, including wood, acrylic, leather, and paper. What can you make with a laser engraver? All types of things! It’s a very versatile machine that’s deceptively easy to use. Checkout this article “From Food to Furniture: 10 Dazzling Laser-Cutter Projects” from Wired magazine for a few examples.

Equipment

Glowforge Universal VLS 6.60

Location

  • Universal VLS 6.60: Maker Hub – Downtown
  • Glowforge: Maker Hub – Colonnades

Access

You must complete training before you can use either laser engraver. Visit the Maker Hub’s Training Website for information about the training (click on the “Enroll me” button). Once you’ve completed the training, you can use the Laser Engraver during regular operating hours. It is first-come, first-serve.

Training

Laser Engraver training consists of two parts:

  • Online content that you can complete at your own pace.
  • A practice project that you need to complete in the Maker Hub.

Visit the Maker Hub’s Moodle page for information and to get started (click on the “Enroll me” button if you see it).  

Resources

Materials

Only approved materials are allowed on the laser engraver. Attempting to engrave or cut other materials could seriously harm your health and/or the tool and is not allowed. 

  • Laser-safe materials are:
  • laser-safe plywood (interior-grade plywood made without formaldehyde glue)
  • untreated lumber
  • acrylic
  • paper, chipboard, cardboard, and poster board
  • textiles (most woven fabrics, including cotton, felt, fleece, denim, linen polyester, lace, and silk)
  • leather (NEVER pleather or faux leather)

We have an assortment of all these materials available in the Maker Hub for you to use for free (except leather). See the Maker Hub’s policies on materials for limitations on what the free materials can be used for.

If you supply your own material, it’ll need to go through the material approval process. A link to the online form and more details are available on the Maker Hub’s materials policies page. 

Material recommendations

We recommend Baltic Birch plywood from the following online stores MakerStock and Inventables. If you need larger sheets of plywood, visit the Hardwood Store of North Carolina in Gibsonville. They sell plywood in 5 feet x 5 feet sheets that they will cut down into smaller pieces. Plywood from Lowes or Home Depot is not recommended for use in the laser engraver.

Acrylic can be purchased from MakerStockInventables, and Delvie’s Plastics.

Untreated lumber can be purchased from Lowes or Home Depot.

Technical details

Universal Laser Systems VLS6.60, 60 watt

  • Accommodates materials up to 32” x 18” x 9” (tall)

Glowforge Laser Engraver, 40 watt

  • Accommodates materials up to 19” x 11” x 2” (tall)