Laser Cutter Checklist

Laser Cutter Checklist

– ensure that what you want to cut can not be done in a more efficient way

              – by hand

              – with another machine

              – with another technique

– check acceptable materials → raplab laser tutorial

– prepare your drawings

              – simplify complex geometry, redraw if necessary → isocurves

              – avoid duplicates and small objects (<0.1mm)

              – join outlines

              – cutting → red (rgb 255,0,0)

              – engraving → black (rgb 0,0,0)

              – Only export geometry you want to cut/engrave → avoid hidden objects, textboxes, or watermarks

– export file as PDF 

– laser bed dimensions → 1000x600mm

– read raplab laser tutorial

– login once and batch process your files

– keep your cutting time below 60min per individual or group

– inform the next user 5 min before you’re done so they can begin to upload their file

Small Vacuum Former

Small Vacuum Former

Quick start video found here

  1. Turn on the machine by turning the right hand knob to the desired temperature and wait for the flashing yellow light to turn green
  2. Sandwich your material in between the trays and clip together using the handles
  3. Press the frames into upper position
  4. Place mold on the vacuum bed
  5. Check the plasticity of the material by eye
  6. Press the frames into the lower position to trigger the vacuum
  7. Unclip the traps and remove you part 
  8. Turn off the machine
  • Cost: free
  • Size 200mmx200mm
  • No undercut on the mold
  • PETG (Polyethylene terephthalate glycol)
  • PS (Polystyren / Polystyrol)
  • PVC (Polyvinylchlorid)
  • PMMA (Polymethylmethacrylat (Plexiglas, Acrylglas))
  • PE (Polyethylen)
  • 0.3mm to 8mm thick

Material for the mold:

  • heat resistant material
  • metal
  • wood
  • foam (thermoset)
  • Plaster


Helpful quick start video found here
    1. Turn on the machine by turning the temperature knob (1) to your desired setting. We would suggest using the setting “5” to begin with.
    2. Wait for the heater (2) to reach temperature. The flashing yellow light will turn green once this has happened.
    3. Unclip the top tray (4) from the bottom tray (3) by lifting the outer part of the yellow handles (5).
    4. Lift the upper tray (4) and place your material underneath on top of the lower tray (3)
    5. Clip the trays together with material in between. This can be done by applying downwards pressure on the trays followed by clipping the outer yellow handles downwards.
    6. Use the inner part of the yellow handles to press both trays and material into the upper position. It should lock in place about 5cm away from the heater.
    7. Place your mold on the vacuum bed (6)
    8. Wait for the material to heat up. Keep an eye on it to check on the plasticity. Once the material droops downwards by about 5cm it is ready.
    9. If you have to produce many of the same pieces, it may be a good idea to use your phone timer check long your material takes to reach the optimal plasticity. 
    10. Use the yellow handle to press the both trays downwards which will trigger the vacuum bed.
    11. Wait 10 seconds and then remove your material and mold.
    12. Turn off the machine


Parametric Tower

Scale: 1:1000
Material: 4mm PMMA (Floors), 10mm PMMA (Core)

Installing Rhino3D and Grasshopper

Please refer to this page for downloading and installing Rhino and Grasshopper as well as an in-depth introduction to Rhino and Grasshopper. 

Download the Grasshopper Definition

After successfully installing the software you can download the Grasshopper definition for this tutorial here.

Individual Design Exploration

  1. Open Rhino7 and load the grasshopper file.
  2. Use the sliders in the four pink boxes to adjust the overall shape of the tower (Fig. 1).
  3. Explore your design options in realtime in the Rhino viewport (Fig 3).
  4. Once you are done designing double click the design / fabrication toggle in the pink bubble.
  5. Right-click the component “Lasercurves” and press “bake” to generate the curves for laser-cutting.
Optional: Measure your material thickness and adjust drawings accordingly!

Laser-Cutting Preparation

  1. Go to top-view in Rhino and print to PDF (Ctrl+P).
  2. Check your document size and line weight according to the specifications.
    (Use the how to export a PDF guide for Rhino if you run into any problems)


  1. Download the PDF-File for the core and the base form here!
  2. Laser-cut both files (the one you created (4mm) and the one you downloaded (10mm)).
  3. Sand the 10mm core with 150 grit sandpaper to create a translucent matte finish.
  4. Square off one end of the core using the disk sander. 
  5. Use a paintbrush and dichloromethane to adhere your core to the base
    (the part with the engraved square)


  1. Slide your laser-cut pieces down the core.
  2. Once all the pieces are on the core, score a line on the core to indicate the full height.
  3. Remove some of your floors and cut your core to size
    (leaving an extra 0.5mm or so)
  4. Slide the floors back onto the core except one. Use the Sanding jig, provided with the core and base PDF file to sand your core to the final size.
  5. Add your final parts to the core