Laser Cutter Tutorial

 Laser Safety 

The laser cutter/engraver requires constant monitoring to ensure the safety of you and others in the makerspace. You must follow these rules when using the laser cutter/engraver:

 Step 1: Preparing your file 

You can prepare the design that you want to cut or engrave ahead of time to use time efficiently. 

We primarily use Adobe Illustrator in the Makerspace and in this tutorial. Adobe Illustrator is available to all Clemson community for free. Visit the Adobe Studio webpage to learn more about installing Adobe software on your personal computer.


Open Adobe Illustrator

If you've never used Illustrator before, you can find all the steps on this guide.


Create a new file


Prepping your file

The 40x28" Illustrator file shows you the bed area of the laser. You'll put your material in the top left corner of the bed, so the top left corner of the project file. Take the measurements of your material and plan where you are going to cut or engrave.

Note: Position of 0,0 on the bed can be slightly off, so if you need precision, run a test and measure where 0,0 is or offset your cut by .25in from the top and the left sides


Using the laser to cut

Vector lines with a thickness of .001 in or less will be cut. All other elements of the graphic, including JPEG images, will be interpreted as raster objects and will be engraved. 


OPTION 1: To create a CUT line:


OPTION 2: To convert a feature to be CUT

For more help, check out this guide to Adobe Illustrator.


Using the laser to engrave

Lines with a thickness of .001 in or less will be cut. All other elements of the graphic, including JPEG images, will be interpreted as raster objects and will be engraved. 


Save your file

Save your prepped file to a flash drive or Google Drive. It can be an .ai or .pdf file. You will open it again in Adobe Illustrator.

 Step 2: Print settings 


Make a reservation in the Watt Makerspace

Use our reservation calendar to book a time on one of the lasers in the Watt Makerspace. If you don't know how much time to reserve, ask one of the interns. Engraving usually takes longer than cutting, unless you have a lot of cuts.

If it's your first time using the lasers, you'll need to complete your in-person training. Any of the Makerspace Interns can do this: just grab one of them and ask for your laser cutter training.


Show up to your reservation on time :)


Open your file in Adobe Illustrator

Using the computer associating with your reserved laser in the Makerspace, open your file in Illustrator.


Select File > Print

In Illustrator, to open the printing options.


Set your print settings

Make sure that the print settings are as shown:

When you're done, select Print.


Open the Epilog Job Manager

Look for the Epilog logo in the taskbar to open the Epilog Job Manager application.


Open the Jobs tab

In the upper left hand corner, click the Jobs tab

Then, double click on your job.


Laser settings

Every material and task needs specific settings for speed, power, and frequency.

Find the recommended settings for your material and job and input them. If you have any questions, ask a makerspace intern!!


Auto-focus OFF

Make sure you turn off auto-focus.



Click Preview

This is a great time to ask a Makerspace Intern to check your settings. Grab anyone with a nametag for help.


Turn on power to the laser cutter

Check to make sure the laser cutter is on. If you're the first one using it for the day, it will be off.


Send to the machine

Click the printer icon to send the job to the laser cutter. The laser cutter must be turned on for this.

 Step 3: Preparing the machine 


Put your material in the laser bed

Open top door to load and position material. Make sure the material is positioned correctly within the engraving area, against the top left corner.


Focus the laser

The laser needs to be focused for each new material depth.

Set the focus tool on the carriage knobs.
Use the down arrows to select FOCUS on the right, then use the joystick to move the bed up and down.


Turn on the air filter

Fume exhaust / FUMEX, to the right of the machine


Turn on the air compressor

To the right of the machine.


Time to print!

Using the arrows on the keypad on the laser, select Jobs. Use the joystick to find your job, if needed, but it typically should be the first job (it will be the name of your file in Illustrator).

Press the green Go button!


Don't leave yet!

Do not walk away from your laser project while the laser is on! You must stay and watch your project the whole time, to monitor for a fire. 

Next Steps

Continue to the quiz: