The Laser Engraver Room AA1D is equipped with Trotec 400. This machine uses a 80 W CO2 laser to engrave and cut a variety of materials. A list of acceptable materials appears later in this document. Please remember that the information in this document pertains to the correct and safe use of this machine. All references to safety and usage must be adhered to; failure to do so could result in permanent injury. Anyone not following these guidelines will forfeit any future use of this equipment. Policies and recommended procedures within this document may change and it is the user’s responsibility to stay current with latest revisions.


  •  Always check in with the technologist before operating laser to be certain that any routine maintenance or required inspection has been performed from previous user/cutting operations.

  •  Only qualified technologists are allowed access to the laser room and operation of the laser.

  •  Any exposure to direct or reflected laser beams can be hazardous.

  •  Exposure to the laser beam can cause burns and severe eye damage. Never disable access door sensors or try to operate the laser cutter with access doors open. Laser damage can occur faster than human reaction time. One tenth of a second is sufficient to cause eye damage.

  •  Never leave the laser cutter unattended while it is operating. Most of the materials used with the laser cutter are combustible and can ignite when in contact with the laser beam. If a fire should start inside the machine turn power switch off, turn off the exhaust system, turn off compressed air; leave the laser room and alert shop staff immediately.

  •  The laser cutter uses high voltage. Never touch or tamper with the exposed wiring inside the machine.

  •  Always operate the laser cutter with the exhaust system on. Smoke produced by cutting in all cases can be harmful. Almost all of this smoke is expelled safely when the exhaust system is on. If the amount of smoke being produced seems abnormal stop using the machine and check with shop staff.

  •  Do not stare at the light produced while the machine is cutting.

Do not bring any type of flammable liquid into the laser room.

Food and beverages are not allowed in the laser room.

Unless a demonstration is taking place only the laser technician and two students are allowed in the laser room at a time.

Do not attempt to bypass any safety features. All doors must be closed when laser is cutting.

Laser Usage Policies

  •  No storage is allowed in the laser room. The laser room is not a storage area for student projects.

  •  Clean up after you are done this includes the floor, work desks, computer desktop and laser.

    We only accept jobs that are submitted electronically via our approved workflow.

  •  Do not store any work on desk top, a folder structure has been set up for storage this can be found on the desktop. Any work not located within this structure provided will be deleted.

  •  When laser is in operation pay close attention to how material reacts during the process. Some materials will distort from the laser process which could impact with the laser head while it is in motion. This will cause damage to the laser.

  • Only when the "Laser in use" door sign is active and all interlocks are closed, will the laser will operate. If anyone opens the door during a job, the job will be ABORTED. If you need to open the door once the job has started, pause the job first and resume it after re-enabling the "Laser in use" door sign.

  •  You cannot cut PVC, Polycarbonate (Lexan), Vinyl, Fiberglass, Carbon Fiber, MDF, Printed Circuit Board these materials can damage the laser and emit hazardous fumes when burned. You must know the material you are using to avoid machine or health damage. Mystery plastics will not be allowed, you must show an invoice from one of the approved vendors at the bottom of this document to be allowed to cut or engrave it in this lab.


  •  Laser set up fee $10.00 (when applicable)

  •  Laser run time per minute $1.00 (minimum charge $3.00)

  •  Payments can only be made with the Papercut system. Ask the technologist for a payment form.

Starting up the Machine

  •  Turn on the machine (turn key on top of laser as if starting a car)

  •  Turn on the exhaust (button near the bottom of the exhaust unit or through software)

  • Press the red button on the left of the door to turn the exterior "Laser in use" sign on (Laser will not operate without this enabled)

    Basic Laser Operation (Cutting/Etching)

  1. Laser room computer is not a work station have your files ready to cut/etch. No outside Internet access is available.  Files must be submitted via the approved workflow.

  2. All files must be vetted first by a technologist by having them submitted here
  3. Before you submit your laser job, download the AI template file and ensure that the following details are met. For best results created your model using our template, please see best practice for details:
    1. Open AI laser template
    2. Copy and paste all lines you want from your AI file to the AI laser template file
    3. Change all lines weights to .01
    4. Change the line color to the appropriate color. If the specified colors are not selected when you go into the laser cutter software it will not recognize your lines.
    5. Red is for cutting. It must be pure red with Red set to 255, Blue and Green set to 0.
    6. Blue is for a lighter etching. It must be pure blue with Blue set to 255, Red and Green set to 0.
    7. Black is for a deeper etching (engraving). It must be pure black with Red set to 0, Blue set to 0 and Green set to 0.
  4. All work files will be stored in the “Pending Jobs” folder on the desktop located in the upper middle portion of the desktop.

  5. Ensure the correct material is set within Job Control X with the appropriate power and speed settings.

  6. Manually overriding the speed and power settings from defaults adds increased risk of fire, lens damage and fumes escaping the exhaust vacuum. Only override settings with the approval/assistance of a technologist.

  7. If using the unit in pass-through mode the unit is a Class 4 laser and all occupants of the room must wear the provided approved eye protection.

  8. Open your Adobe Illustrator file

  9. Print the AI file to the Trotec printer, Job Control X will launch.
  10. Open lid of laser cutter.
  11. Place material on cutter bed. If using a thin wood, leather or plastic use double stick tape to secure material to the cutter bed or substrate material. Be aware that using a substrate material can sometimes excessively burn the backside of your project due to heat buildup.
  12. Focus the laser using the laser focus tool.
  13. If material is to be cut to the edge of your material, place outer edges of material 1in in from edge of cutter bed in both X and Y axis (or use one of the placement jigs)
  14. Close lid

    Watch laser while it is cutting. You must be present while laser is cutting. Failure to do so may result in loss of your laser cutter privileges.
  15. Record all the details for the job log including date, setup time and duration
  16. Laser operation can be paused (pause button) or restarted as needed (resume).

    If material starts to lifts from bed and is in danger of hitting the cutter head hit E-stop and contact the technologist immediately
  17. If material catches fire hit E-stop, turn off exhaust system, contact shop staff immediately.
  18. If cutter bed gets heavy with smoke hit the pause button in UCP (Located next to the play button you pressed) continue cut after smoke has cleared repeat as necessary.
  19. Wait for smoke to clear then remove your parts from the bed as well as all scrap left behind.
  20. CLEAN UP YOUR MESS. Failure to do so may result in loss of your laser cutter privileges


Vector and Raster engraving- These terms apply to how the laser will cut your drawing, understanding them is very important in achieving the results you desire. Vector cutting/engraving means that the laser will follow each line from beginning to end. This method of cutting is advantageous when you are cutting out parts because it produces a smooth clean cut at a fast speed.
Raster engraving means that the laser will move back and forth firing 1 dot at every pixel in your drawing. This method should not be used to cut out parts but is the only way to engrave solid areas, text and intricate patterns and textures.

The printer driver distinguishes between raster objects (raster engraving) and vector objects (vector cutting and marking) by the types of elements contained in the graphic being printed. All graphics, other than outlines of very thin line widths will be interpreted as raster objects and the raster mode will be used for laser processing. Not all software is capable of printing vector output. If you want to create jobs for vector cutting, make sure your graphic software of choice allows creation of vector lines and that the line width can be 0.001” (0.0254 mm) or less. The printer driver will interpret these objects as vectors. 

Focus Lens- This is the lens that focuses the laser beam onto the material you are
cutting. It is important that this lens is focused correctly to achieve accurate cuts and reduce the risk of damage to the machine. It is also important to keep this lens clean because a dirty lens will retain more heat and eventually melt and crack (Replacement lenses are upwards of $350 each)

Preset Material Database

Below is a list of materials that can be used on this laser. The Fablab does not provide or sell any material, and does not allow offcuts from previous jobs to be used as material.  Each material has a basic preset as a starting point which can be further adjusted as required to control the desired end product.

Laser Tile

  • Light, Medium, Dark


  • Cotton, Felt, Film w/Heat Activated Backing, Tackle Twill, Wool


  • Foam Core


  • Alkali -Alumino-Silicate Glass, Soda-Lime Glass


  • Will not cut or etch base material must be coated or anodized (Markable)


  • Cork
  • Leather
  • Mat Board
  • Mother of Pearl


  • Construction Paper
  • Copier Paper


  • Granite
  • Marble



  • Soft
  • Medium
  • Hard
  • Very Hard
  • NO MDF or other glue infused woods


  • Mylar
  • PETG


  • ABS, Acetal Copolymer (Delrin), Nylon 6/6, Polycarbonate
  • Acrylic – Cast, Continuous Cast, Extruded
  • Engravers Plastic – Micro Surface - Deep Engraving, Metallic Surface, Non Metallic Surface
  • Latex
  • Low Odor
  • Laser Rubber
  • Silicone Rubber