Laser Cutter Info

Important: Watch the video before making your reservation!

The laser cutter is one of the more versatile machines we have here in the Makery at Elmhurst Public Library. It also is one of the more complex. Therefore, it is important to arrive prepared in order for your projects to turn out. We like to have you involved as much as possible in the creation of your cut or engraving so your projects have that personal feeling and touch of a homemade piece you crafted yourself. The following video will best help prepare you for the laser cutter.

The Makery Staff reserves the right to refuse any unprepared projects or material that does not meet guidelines on the website or guidelines contained in this video.


Choosing your material is the first step for using the laser cutter. The Makery does not provide any materials for purchase.

The laser cutter can do 2 things: rastering also called engraving and vector cuts. If cutting all the way through material, ensure your material is less than ¼” thick. If engraving your material, thickness will not matter quite as much. Please try to keep all objects for engraving under 10 inches thick. The thinner, the better. All material must fit on the laser cutter’s built plate of 20” by 12”.

Here are some of the most popular materials we are able to use:

  • Natural Wood
    • Plywood has glue that makes it more difficult to cut
  • Glass – both curved and flat. It leaves a frosted appearance like a glass etching cream.
  • Cardboard
  • Cardstock
  • Slate
  • Grip tape or sand paper
  • Denim, real leather, and fabrics – most can be cut, thicker fabrics are well-suited to receive engravings.
  • EVA Foam – must have label or receipt for staff to verify material

Always bring extra material. The Makery is not a production facility. Most projects require testing and refining. Things don’t always turn out on the first try.

We will not cut the following:

  • Any and all material containing Chlorine
  • Any wood that has been painted or stained, otherwise non natural
  • Acrylic
  • ABS, HDPE, or other types of plastics
  • Carbon Fiber
  • Epoxy and other resins
  • Fiberglass or Printed circuit boards (FR4, G10, anything resin-based)
  • Metals
  • Mirrors and other reflective surfaces
  • Pleather or artificial leathers
  • Polyvinyl shloride (PVC), Polyvinyl butyrale (PVB), and Vinyl (Sintra)
  • Polycarbonate (PC, Lexan)
  • PolyStyrene Foam (Styrofoam and foam core board)
  • PolyPropylene Foam
  • Polyuerthane

For safety concerns, if any material is questionable or unknown to staff, we will not attempt to cut it for any reason. If you have any questions on material, please contact Makery staff before making your reservation.


Tips and Tricks

Glass Engraving

There are a few things to know when choosing your glass for engraving:

  • For glass, we can do both curved or flat pieces
  • Curved glass such as cups or glasses require a rotary attachment that the Library provides
  • Curved Glass that works best either has a slow gradual increase in size from bottom to top such as a pint glass, or has very little if any change in circumference throughout. Any bulbed or curved glass such as a stemless wine glasses or snifters are discouraged because they are difficult to load in the machine and results can vary.
  • Crystal glassware retains heat making it harder to engrave
  • Colored glass can be engraved but coated or painted glass cannot. Staff will need to scratch the glass to determine if the glass is colored or coated.

Keep in mind the size limitations for the laser cutter: 20in x 12in. Any glassware longer or larger in area than this will not fit inside our machine!


Depending on your design, getting your images and vectors ready for the laser cutter can be either somewhat labor intensive or quite simple. Your design is a digital file and should be brought in as such. The laser cutter needs a digital file to run, it cannot translate a physical picture or printed off piece of paper into an engraving. We can resize your file to fit your material in the makerspace, but it is recommended to have a size in mind and measured out when coming in for your reservation.


If your design consists solely of words, such as an engraving on glass or cutting letters out of acrylic, a simple Microsoft word file with the words typed into it is all you need to bring with you. Please make note of what font you would like to use as the library does not have every font you might have.

Other formats such as a pdf, notepad file, jpg, or png of words will also work.


In a logo design, please try to get as close to a single color logo as possible. Most black and white logos work great. Logos with a gradient or greyscale will not work well. This is because the laser cutter works in binary – it only knows to be shooting the laser or not. Because of this, any colors get converted to black or white. Like colors will run together and not be discernable.

Any .jpg, .png, or other standard photo files will work. The higher quality the photo, the better the picture.

If you are trying to cut the logo out of the material, you must have a vector file. The most common file type for this is a .svg. The laser will not take a picture and automatically create an .svg out of it. Adobe Illustrator is great for creating vector files. Inkscape is a free program that also is great for creating svg files.


Photographs for engraving suffer from the same issues as logo with many colors. We require all photos to be converted into line drawings before coming in to the Makery to use the laser cutter. You can find how to do that using the guide in the description below.

Line Drawing Conversion Guide

Please bring both the original and converted files in during your reservation. The line drawing works best with architecture. Faces and animals it struggles with details.


The laser cutter will etch slate but is not strong enough to cut through slate. Slate requires a slower speed setting, which increasing etching time. For example, a 4″ x 4″ piece of slate could take up to 15 minutes to etch.

If you have any questions about a file you are trying to cut or engrave, please contact Makery staff and we will look over your file and let you know what steps to take. You can email us the file along with the material you are planning on using and the size of the material at with the subject line “File for Laser Cutter” and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

To see full Makery equipment usage and rules, see the Makerspace Policy.


Extra Information

Full Spectrum P-Series 20×12 CO2 Laser Cutter Website

Laser Cutter Manual


Reserve the Laser Cutter

If you prefer call (630) 279-8696 and ask to reserve the laser cutter.

  • Reservations can be made in .5, 1, 1.5 and 2-hour blocks
  • Maximum of two upcoming reservations – Limit of 1 reservation per day
  • Up to seven days ahead
  • Reservations are held for 15 minutes after start time
  • You will need an email address to make a reservation

Note: First time users will receive an email request to opt-in to receive email from the system. The link in this email must be clicked within 24 hours.