Stanford University

Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is a process that uses a laser beam to cut or engrave materials. The machine is computer-driven, based on design data generated by the user. Industrially, powerful lasers can cut thick metals. In the Product Realization Lab, our lower powered machines are designed to work with thin plastics, woods, and paper materials.

Complex 3D forms can be assembled from flat-pattern designs. Many students use SolidWorks and Adobe Illustrator to generate design data. Additionally, a useful free program is Autodesk’s 123D Make, which can generate slices to cut and form a solid model.

Machine Specifications

LaserCAMMUniversal VLS 4.60
Location Machining Lab, Bldg 610 Room 36, Huang Engineering Center
Material Size(s) 24" x 48", 22" x 36" 18" x 24"
Power 150W and 100W 60W
Materials Duron, plywood, acrylic, paper Duron, thin woods, acrylic, cardboard and paper materials (see below for more details)
Operation in the PRL Runs off a DXF file. Origin must be in the bottom left corner of the sheet. Runs from Adobe Illustrator. Files require specific line formatting.
Best option for: Larger designs, thicker materials Thin materials, designs that require raster engraving
Tutorial Documents - LaserCAMM instructions - Using the Laser cutters in Room 36
- Getting Started with Illustrator
- Troubleshooting file issues


Room 36 laser cutters can handle a wider variety of materials than the LaserCAMM. Samples of the following allowed materials are available in Room 36:

  • Acrylic (mirrored, textured/frosted, opaque, transparent)
  • Duron
  • Some Hardwoods (Black Cherry, Pine, Poplar, Walnut, Ash, Maple, Basswood)
  • High-quality Birch plywood
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Felt
  • Matboard
  • Chipboard
  • Silicone
  • Cork
  • Various papers
  • Foam core
  • Cotton fabric
  • Anodized Aluminum (etching only!)

The following materials are NOT allowed on Room 36 laser cutters:

  • Any hardwoods NOT explicitly listed above
  • Polycarbonate
  • PTFE
  • Delrin
  • Carbon fiber
  • Transparency sheets
  • Camera gels
  • Polypropylene
  • Polyethylene (HDPE, LDPE, etc...)
  • Styrene
  • Laser-engravable rubber stamp material

See a TA if your material is not listed!! Do NOT assume that it is allowed.

Demo Files

Get Started - T-Rex

Tabbed Construction - Basic Basswood Box

Kerf Cutting - Teeny Lamp

Pattern of slits allows a flat sheet of material to bend
Captured nuts with screws hold components together so that they can be disassembled easily.