Laser Cutting

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Laser cutting is a technique that uses a focused laser beam to either etch patterns or cut through materials including wood, plastic, rubber, paper, or glass. Because of the small size of the focused laser beam and its CNC system, laser cutters can provide extremely accurate and precise cuts.

The Tulane MakerSpace uses an Epilog Helix 24, 50 watt CO2 laser system. This system can cut through materials up to 3/8" thick, though some thicker materials require multiple passes.

  • Epilog Helix User's Manual (.pdf)
  • Speed and Power Recommendations (.pdf)
  • Material Engraving Techniques (.pdf)
  • Basic Training Video 1 ([1])
  • Basic Training Video 2 ([2])
  • Basic Training Video 3 ([3])


  • MAKE SURE YOUR MATERIAL IS LASER SAFE, some materials (such as PVC) release toxic gases when used in a laser cutter, some are prone to starting fires. A helpful, but not complete, list of laser materials can be found here.
  • Never leave a running laser cutter unattended, the heat from the laser can ignite some materials and start a fire.
  • Always make sure the laser cutter is properly vented, otherwise smoke and fumes can damage the machine or injure people.

Computer Control

  • The laser cutter is connected to a computer, and receives instructions via a USB connection, just like a printer. We recommend that your drawings be in .pdf format before you send them to the cutter.
  • Each computer has Corel Draw, Inkscape, Acrobat, and the Epilog printer driver installed. The password for the computer is epilog
  • A tutorial on the interaction between Inkscape, Acrobat, and the laser cutter is here (.pdf)


  • Cleaning and Maintainence (.pdf)
  • Replacing the x-axis belt on the Epilog Helix (.pdf)

Other Resources