Quick Start Guide

A brief guide introducing the basics of laser cutting and the Fab Lab to start you off in digital fabrication and help you level up your design.

Submission and Machine

Video Tutorials
  • Rhinoceros 3D is installed
  • Download Fab Lab Laser Cutting Template
  • All goemetry is linework for CUT and ETCH
  • All geometry is hatching for RASTER
  • All linework is on correct layers (CUT, ETCH, RASTER)
  • All linework is set to "By Layer" for print colour, width, linetype
  • Explode Text (command: Explode)
  • Remove Duplicate Lines (command: SelDup > Delete)
  • Ungroup all geometry (command: Ungroup)
  • Specify material, name and student ID number in file

Download the Template File here:

FabLab Laser Cutter Rhino 5 Template (1).zip
General Laser Cutting Template

Machine Parameters

Material Standard Size: 700 x 1000mm
Material Maximum Size: 900 x 1200mm.
Materials Safety Data Sheet: Students can bring material from other suppliers, but it must be accompanied by a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) which can be obtained from the material supplier.
Line Colours and Types
  • CUT: Black (RGB: 0,0,0) Vector line
  • ETCH: Red (RGB: 255,0,0) Vector line
  • RASTER: Blue (RGB: 0, 0, 255) Hatch
Cost: $1.00 per minute + material costs

Reducing Cost



The two important things to reduce the cost of laser cutting is the amount of material you use and the time it takes to process.
Tips include:
  • Efficient nesting of linework onto your sheets to minimise the number of sheets you need.
  • Sharing cut edges to reduce the amount of material used and minimise processing time.
  • Reducing the density of your etching and rastering for visible resolution and reduce processing time.
  • Reuse sheets from previous jobs that still have usable material.

Reducing Material Use

Nesting Geometries Efficiently
Objects that sit outside the internal boundary risk not being read by the laser cutter and may not be cut. Objects sharing the same edge will produce a more accurate cut and finish. It will also save cutting time and reduce material wastage. Unless objects are using the same cut or score line, space objects at least 5mm apart. Jobs which are spread across an excessive number of sheets will not be accepted.
  1. 1.
    Use the [Move] and [Rotate]commands, or use the Gumball, to nest your objects closer together.
  2. 2.
    Move the objects towards the top left corner.
  3. 3.
    Ensure the objects do not extend out of the internal boundary.
  4. 4.
    Have objects share edges as much as possible; straight lines can be aligned to save material wastage and to reduce cutting time.
    1. 1.
      Avoid overlapping lines. An easy way to avoid this is to select your overlapping objects and use the[Make2D]command and [SelDup] to select and delete any duplicate lines.
Poor Nesting (Left) and Better Nesting (Right)
Poor Nesting (Left) and Better Nesting (Right)
Selecting Material Size
Check the Fab Lab Material List to see if your material can be cut on smaller sheets (i.e. 600x600mm instead of 900x600mm). If your chosen material is available on smaller sheets, use [Scale1D] to change the size of your material.
Poor Material Size Selection (Left) and Better Material Size Selection (Right)
Selecting Material Thickness
Some materials come in multiple different thicknesses; where possible, try using thinner sheets.

Reducing Cutting Time

The quicker a job is to cut, the less it will cost for cutting time. To reduce cutting times, try reducing the amount of lines/curves a Job has.
Reducing Lines
  • Avoid lines of less than 1mm.
Reducing Hatching
  • Hatching can be very time-consuming; limit hatching where possible or replace with Etch outlines instead.
Once you are confident your file is ready, please submit job here:
If you would like to speak to one of our technicians about a specific job or project, please book a consultation here: