Laser cutter (2023)


  • Be sure that all the support systems (cooling, air, exhaust) are on before using a laser.
  • Be sure you are using materials allowed in the laser. Some materials catch on fire or release poisonous gas when used with a laser cutter. PVC and vinyl are particularly toxic. Do not cut unknown materials–it is your responsibility to make sure materials are OK to cut. (Online forums can be helpful in avoiding other peoples’ mistakes!)
  • Cardboard is stored under the Epilog. Please conserve resources by prototyping with cardboard first. MDF and other materials are stored in the cabinet to the right of the GlowForge.
  • Make sure you know how to pause and stop the machine.
  • Double-check the power and speed settings for your material.
  • The laser beam could do a lot of harm if it escaped from the chamber. Always make sure the glass is closed. Don’t put mirrors in the chamber. Make sure the crumb tray (hexagonal lattice) is installed.
  • The ventilation system connects to several laser cutters. Close the gates to laser cutters not in use, to get maximum suction to the ones that are in use. Make sure the gate is open to the laser cutter you’re using!
  • If anything seems funny, pause and let a TA know.
  • If a fire starts inside the chamber, do not open it. Immediately cut power to the machine (stop button or pull the plug), turn off the compressed air and exhaust, and get the fire extinguisher. In most cases, the fire will go right out.
  • Clean up after yourself. Dust and scraps left in the laser cutter can ignite.

Glowforge Usage

You need a raster and/or vector image to tell the laser cutter what to engrave and/or cut. To generate the image, you may use the laser cutter’s proprietary software, third party software (Adobe creative suite, CorelDraw, InkScape, Gimp, etc.), download images, or generate them with code. Please have your image ready before taking up time on the physical machine. The GlowForge is controlled via a webapp. If you do not have an account yet, ask a TA.


  • Turn on the machine. (The switch is on the back.)
  • Use the app to prepare your job.
  • Turn on the air filter before starting the job (the rightmost large grey box).
  • Press print in the app.
  • Push the print button on the GlowForge.

Epilog Usage

The Epilog is faster and more powerful than GlowForge (more of an industrial machine than hobbyist). There is a laptop connected to the Epilog (to the left), which serves as the print station for this machine. Export your work as a PDF and then move your work onto this laptop.


  • Turn on the Epilog.
  • Turn on the air filter before starting the job (the leftmost large grey box).
  • Turn on the compressed air (the machine behind the Epilog).
  • If you have trouble getting the print station to recognize the Epilog, try some combination of power cycling, plugging and unplugging the USB cable. It can be a bit fussy.


  • Remove scrap from the crumb tray.
  • Brush away dust.
  • If your scrap still has substantial usable area, put it back on the pile. (When it’s easy, it is considerate to cut away the parts that are trash.) Throw away trash.
  • If nobody is waiting to use the laser, turn it off.