Laser Cutter

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Name: Smaug
Tool Steward: Peter Philips <>


Status: Up

This is real time status.

aka Smaug


Ace Monster Toys has an EXLAS 1280 laser.

This page details laser usage and operation, tips and tricks, etc.

TEMPORARY: while the computer running the laser cutter has a temporary Linux install/Windows emulator, to use it there are a couple minor tweaks:

The VM is set up to automatically "capture" the 2 USB devices needed for Lasercut5.3. The dongle and the laser itself.

If you use a USB file key to move files to the laser, you will need to manually grab that device by right clicking on the little USB icon on the bottom toolbar. It's the 3rd icon from the left. A list of USB devices will pop up and you can select the one you want.

On the linux side, the account name is amt, and the password is the standard one from the whiteboad upstairs.

Please don't touch or fiddle with the laser cutter unless you have been trained.


Laser cutter is currently operational.

See the mailing list for further discussion.

Moved the details of purchasing to their own page.

Old page about cleaning junk out of the space


Please make a reservation if you absolutely need to use the cutter at a certain time.

Usage Cost / Fee Structure

We charge by the minute based on the actual time the laser is firing.

Costs are as follows:

The laser has been paid off, and the fee for members was reduced from $0.50/minute by the board on 3-27-14.

Note that these fees do not include any assistance with setting up runs, models, etc. This is purely cut time assuming things are ready to go already and the person just needs to cut stuff. Any other help needs to be negotiated with willing parties.


PDF manuals for laser cutter and software:

Laser Cutter 101 Class

Regular classes are scheduled for training on the laser cutter, check our meetup page for the next one; if there appear to be none currently scheduled, please post a request on the discuss mailing list!

Here are the notes from the class (note that just reading the notes is not a replacement for taking the class).

Safety information and training

We should have a bunch of helpful information here on safe operation of the device and who to go to to be trained on its use here.

Things that can / cannot be lasered

See the full list here. If any of the banned items are knowingly and purposefully put into the laser, you will be banned from its use (and possibly AMT) for being a danger to yourself and others. The outgassing or fire can kill people.


There are two shelves: "Member materials" and "Scrap".


Material power settings

Laser Cutter/Power Settings

Software Manual / Tips

Laser Cutter/LaserCut Software

Using the Laser Cutter quick tutorial

Laser Cutter/Checklist

Cleaning the Laser Cutter

Laser Cutter/Cleaning

Mirror Alignment

See the Instructable on aligning the mirrors

Usable Work Area

1200mm x 800mm (47.24in x 31.49in)
Please note this is the travel size for the head. The physical workbed is approximately 50mm larger in both X and Y directions.

Software to prepare designs to laser


Inkscape can be used to convert various vector file types (SVG, PDF, etc) into DXF, with the Inkscape DXF export plugin listed below.

Quick tutorial on exporting files from inkscape as dxf:

If it doesn't import correctly into LaserCut, try this:

Dunno why, but that solved a problem for me once.

note: linux didn't import .pdf files from box-maker. There is a command line program you can use called pdf2svg that worked for me. (ubuntu: sudo apt-get install pdf2svg)

If you are on a Mac with Lion or Mountain Lion, you may encounter a dialog in Inkscape when trying to export as DXF, saying there isn't a problem but you should install something (lxml). This actually is a problem, but installing lxml doesn't solve it. Instead, add one line to a file in your Inkscape install as described in this link: This should allow you to export DXF files successfully. In case that link goes away, I'm copying it here.


Can export DXF files with a plugin (see below)


Good for converting bitmaps. Use curves or levels to make the image super light, then convert to an indexed 1-bit palette (black & white), then save as BMP

Adobe Illustrator

Here are some tips form our members that have used it to make lasercut designs. The tips are somewhat general, and may apply to any 2D vector design program you may be using:

From Crafty regarding how to make sure Illustrator units are reflected on your lasercut piece:

I use an in art "measuring stick" as the unit conversion on out software is not reliable depending on the version of illustrator you are exporting from. I using the flowing low tech technique to quicky and reliably resize my art and have very good results
  1. Drop a 1200mm x 800mm box around the art
  2. Import the art and select Draw> Resize > Choose 1200 x 800
  3. Move the art to the "laser bed" on the software
  4. Delete the box you used to size it
  5. Proceed with all the other art clean up steps
I have very specific reasons for using that order of operation and can explain to anybody who wants to chit chat about. c/Rachel


In Photoshop, the Gold Method Script works very well for preparing photos for engraving. After applying the script to your liking, to save the file for the laser software, make sure your Image > Mode is set to Bitmap, then Save As type BMP, setting depth as 1-bit.

Draft Sight

Draftsight is a free (for non-commercial use) clone of AutoCAD by Dassault Systèmes. For those who have used AutoCAD in the past, this may be a good option. It run on Windows, Mac, and popular Linuxes.


Software Links

More information

Existing designs to laser

How Other Spaces Use Lasers

Here are links to the laser cutter pages put up by other hackerspace or hackerspace-like entities:

Personal tools