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.
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:
We will not cut the following:
There are a few things to know when choosing your glass for engraving:
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.
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 email@example.com 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.
If you prefer call (630) 279-8696 and ask to reserve the laser cutter.
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.