Laser Cutting and Engraving

Wavemaker has a 60 watt CO2 laser cutter and engraver. It has a 600mm x 400mm working area and can cut or engrave a wide variety of materials. The adjustable bed can be lowered to support materials up to 200 mm thick. We’ve found it is capable of cutting through softer materials up to 10mm thick and harder materials up to 6mm thick, although results will vary depending on material. Also note that the laser kerf (slit made by cutting) is 0.2mm. This will need to be factored into your work if it is to have interlocking pieces.
It is dangerous and bad for the machine to cut or engrave anything with chlorine in it. Therefore PVC or unidentified (random) plastics are not to be used in the machine.
Makers can use this machine at a cost of 50p per minute (5 minute minimum) once they have taken our Laser Cutting and Engraving Induction class.

What it can do

Our cutter can do three things; Cut, Engrave and Kiss Cut.

Cut

This is when the laser cuts completely through the material, creating separate pieces.

Engrave

This is when the laser removes a layer of the material over an area, leaving your design visible.

Kiss Cut

This is when the laser does not cut all of the way through the material. Also known as marking or outline engrave, this is another way to create a design on a piece of material.

Materials you can use

Material
Cut
Engrave
Acrylic (up to 6mm)
 y y
Wood (up to 6mm) y y
Ceramics (not glazed) NO y
Cardboard y y
Cork y y
Fabric y NO
Glass NO y
Leather y y
MDF (laser safe) y y
Paper y y
Plastic – Acrylic and polypropylene y y
Plywood y y
Polyester y NO
Rubber (Laser safe only) y y
Metal NO NO
Stone NO y
Veneer y y

Preparing your file

To begin with, your design must be a vector image for our laser to be able to cut or engrave. Any shapes that are to be engraved must be closed and cannot contain any breaks in the lines.

A number of applications are available capable of creating vector graphics. We mainly use Adobe Illustrator and can help you with preparation techniques. Other applications may vary and we are happy to help with the process.

Once your design is ready, it needs to be exported as a DXF file. This allows it to be imported into the cutter control software where further settings are configured to determine cut and engrave finishes.

Export from Adobe Illustrator

Designing in Adobe Illustrator is great for laser cutting although a number of steps are required to correctly export the design to be compatible with our laser cutter.

The following must be done before exporting your file.

Ensure your file is in RGB colour mode. Different colours show as different layers when imported into the machine software. As a general rule, we use; RED for cut, BLUE for engrave, and GREEN for a kiss cut.
Convert all text to outlines
Ensure no objects are filled and outlines are set to 0.25pt
Objects must be ungrouped
Document units must be set to inches
Document units must be set to inches

Now export your design by going to FILE>EXPORT and ensure your file type is set to DXF.

Booking

To book the cutter, check the calendar below for availability and email your preferred date and time to info@wavemaker.org.uk. A minimum time of 5 minutes applies and bookings are made on a first come basis.