Laser cutter

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A0 laser cutter.jpg

A0 Laser Cutter

The Hackspace brought an A0 laser cutter from Just Add Sharks in early 2014, installed in May 2014. The project information related to that is available on the wiki if you are interested in the decision making and pledge drive.


You need to have had an induction on the laser cutter to use it at a cost of £20. This requires you to be a paying member of Nottinghack; it is not available for use by the public.


At the moment in June training takes priority and without any easy way to share a calendar the laser may be used for training and interrupt your use - this is just common sense to get people trained in good time.

You need your RFID access card to use the machine. Please do not let other people borrow your card, you would be deemed responsible if anything went wrong (the machine is dangerous and everyone using it requires an induction for safety) and of course the usage charges would be applied to your account balance.

A booking system for people who have had an induction is available on HMS which also allows you to track laser time against your Nottinghack budget - it can go up to £20 in debt and you are emailed with how to pay it off. No money can be taken at the machine itself.


The A0 laser cutter costs £3 per hour; it will be charged per penny. Your normal HMS account can be used to track and pay for this up to the limit of £20, or credit added in advance using methods in the space. Note that the laser won't turn off when you reach your limit but you won't be able to put your card on the laser to turn it on again.

Anyone who pledged will get their pledge amount in laser money (separate from the costs for vending machine items or other things).

The charge is to encourage users to prepare their files in advance to keep the unit as free as possible. Money paid will contribute towards the provision of laser-related supplies such as replacement laser tubes and lenses. A booking system is in progress to sort booking slots on the laser for up to 2 hours at a time.

For guidelines these are the costs over an hour, since larger jobs can take a long time especially if engraving.

Time Cost
10 Minutes £0.50
20 Minutes £1.00
30 Minutes £1.50
40 Minutes £2.00
50 Minutes £2.50
1 hour £3.00



Inkscape is one of the most useful SVG tools and available for free on any platform (the Mac version however is hard to install). The help here on the wiki shows the best export settings and the different tools that help create a perfect laser cut file to import!

Adobe Illustrator

Illustrator by Adobe is a high-end paid-for vector graphics software tool. The Laser Cut program will import Adobe Illustrator files (given certain save options - no compression!). The main issue is that the Laser Cut program doesn't seem to export colour, but DXF export is still available - use R14 settings, but we had some issues testing this.

There will be some notes (as to settings, such as using mm sizes!) and screenshots of save settings in the future. If you can help please contact Andrew Armstrong for a session of testing.

Notes: When designing in Illustrator work in millimetres as your unit. On export as DXF, select AUTOCAD Version: R14/LT98/LT97. The artwork scale will show 1mm = 1Unit(s). Change the unit from millimetres to points. The scale should now read 2.8346 points = 1 Unit(s).



Draftsight is a free suite of software that can plan out diagrams, and save to DXF format. More information to come. It runs on Windows, Mac and Linux.

LaserCut 5.3

The main software is LaserCut 5.3 - this can be used on a local machine and items saved ready to send to the laser later. For large engraves the calculation times can be up to an hour.

See the installation instructions using the software.

There is also a page of basic information and tips available too. Tutorials also to follow!


  • LibreCAD: 2D CAD (Free-as-in-freedom fork of now closed-source QCad)
  • DraftSight: Free-to-use 2D CAD


There is a Windows 7 PC connected to the laser cutter via a blue USB cable, you will also be able to connect your own computer if you want via the USB cable; this allows you to use whatever software to export the laser compatible files quickly.

Laser Cutter Setup

Subpage for the setup to use the laser cutter here. Also helps identify if there are issues with the laser or cooling system and what to do (ie; mainly stop using it and tell someone!).

Laser Cutter Cleaning

How to clean the bed on the laser cutter here. This may be maintenance team only. Note: It is impossible to safely remove it by yourself due to the size.

Laser Cutter Materials

You can have a look at what materials work well on the laser at what settings, and where to buy materials.

Note that a set of standardised laser cutter materials is being looked into, which will be kept in stock by the hackspace to lower the barriers to using the machine. A standard list will be produced here once stocks are sourced.

Main laser materials are wood, certain plastics and paper. Other materials may work, depending on what they are made of. Please note however that the laser cutter will not cut metal. You can see a reasonably complete list of what is laser safe here and here.

Laser Cutter Maintenance

List of trained members who can maintain the machine such as mirror alignment and so forth and how it is accomplished with pictures.

Replacing the major machine parts will be documented with photos when it is done for the first time.

Red Laser Cutter

There is still some information on Inductions to sign up for an induction and for information on inductions while it is in the space. These however have been put on hold with the new laser being available.

The old Materials info on what can be cut and suggested settings for this machine and will be updated.