Laser Cutting at the AA Digital Prototyping Lab
The laser cutting machines at the Digital Prototyping Lab can be used by current registrered AA students and staff.
The machines are available during the opening times of the Lab (Mon to Fri: 9.00 am - 6.00 pm, Saturday: 10.00 am - 5.00 pm) and can be booked by individual students using our online booking system. The booking system allows to book hourly slots up to a certain number of days in advance (depending on the machine), new slots will appear the next day.
The booking system is only available to students who have completed the specific laser induction. If you would like to register for a laser induction session visit the Lab to sign up through one of the paper lists posted at the door.
Sizes and Materials
The maximum cutting size of laser cutting bed is 812x457 mm.
There is no minimum thickness, the maximum thicknes for cutting is 6 mm.*
(*Greater thicknesses might be possible depending on material, cutting pattern design and available machine time -please consult DPL staff to determine the possibilities.)
The DPL has a number of materials in stock at slightly smaller sheet sizes to optimize material efficiency. These materials can be paid for in the DPL with your AA card -make sure to have enough money on it by topping up with the machine in the back staircase or with the AA Accounts Department. The sizes and prices are listed below.
If you bring your own materials it is adviced to cut them to a size of 810x450 mm or smaller.
Please note that there is a limited range of materials that you can use in the laser cutting machines, as some materials can release toxic fumes or present a fire hazard when used in a laser cutting machine. The DPL staff will deny access to the machines to people with hazardous materials and ban students from using the machines in the future if they are found to be using hazardous materials.
Materials that can be used in the laser cutting machines are:
Paper and Cardboard
MDF - up to 6 mm
Plywood - up to 1.5 mm
Cast-Acrylic brandname 'Perspex' (no other types of acrylic or plastics)
Textiles (100% Cotton)
Cost of Materials
The materials available at the Prototyping Lab are:
MDF - 3 mm thickness, 800 x 450 mm approx. - 1.50 pounds per sheet
MDF - 6 mm thickness, 800 x 450 mm approx. - 3.00 pounds per sheet
Skinplywood - 1.5 mm thickness, 800 x 450 mm approx. - 7.50 pounds per sheet
Cast-Acrylic - 3 mm thickness, 800 x 450 mm approx. - 15.00 pounds per sheet
Cast-Acrylic - 5 mm thickness, 800 x 450 mm approx. - 24.50 pounds per sheet
Cast-Acrylic sheets are available in clear and white.
Guidelines for File Preparation
The laser cutting machines can be operated from AutoCad as well as Rhino.
It is advisable to prepare your cutting files according to the guidelines in our PDF that can be downloaded here.
The following instructions are important for safe and efficient laser cutting and ensures that our student assistants can help you in case there are problems with your files:
- cutting files must be in millimeters, in 1:1 scale of the final physical model;
- cutting objects must be nested into sheets, drawn as rectangles of 812.8 x 457.2 mm (landscape);
- if you have several sheets they should be organized in one drawing file;
- objects should be organized in separate layers for cutting, scoring and text, with each one having a different color;
- avoid using blocks or groups including elements in different layers;
- prepare 'clean' files, without unnecessary other objects or layers;
Click here for the Tutorials Page with extended information on how the use the laser cutters and how to prepare files.