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Laser Cutter – Garage

Room contents

Materials it can cut/engrave

Consult the laser approved materials list and familiarize yourself with the safety protocol. Note that some materials can be engraved but not cut. Additionally, there is a list of suggested speed/power settings per material next to the desktop in the laser cutter room, as well as in the manual (Appendix B: Material Settings). Using improper settings may lead to a fire hazard, so always refer to the recommendations.


For sending your design to the laser cutter, “this model of machine will only work on a windows operating system.” Epilog recommends Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. (Also they have a workflow with Inkscape, but it requires special drivers (zip file from Epilog for 64 bit versions of windows) and you have to export to pdf and print the pdf from Adobe Acrobat.)

You don’t need to worry about that if you just use the CCRMA laser cutter Windows machine:

Creating a design

Safety protocol

All general shop rules apply to using the laser cutter (e.g., always wear shop glasses, only closed-toe shoes, tie long hair back). Here are some important fire safety tips to remember:

Setting up the Helix

  1. Turn on the power switch on the lower left next to the power cable.
  2. Open the glass lid and place your material on the honeycomb rack.
  3. Press “X/Y Off” then “Go” to off to disable motors so you can move the laser by hand; display will flash “X/Y Disabled”. Press the “Pointer” button to turn on a little red dot, then manually position the laser head at the material’s “origin” (top left corner).
  4. Press “Set Home” and “Go”, then press “Pointer” to turn it off. Close the glass lid.
  5. Press “Reset”. The display says “Job: “ which indicates the default state of the Helix waiting for a job. The Helix is now ready to receive instructions from Corel Draw.
  6. Turn on the air compressor (small grey metal device under the Helix) and press the red power button on the iSeries filtration unit (large white box with tube). Both must be turned on while laser cutting.

Printing Your Design to the Laser Cutter

  1. Confirm the “paper size” as 24x18 inches (or smaller)
  1. If your project involves both raster engraving and vector cutting, raster first. Hide the vector layer (or any other raster layers if doing multiple intensity rasters) by clicking the eye icon next to the layers.
  2. Press “Control + P” to print. Choose “Epilog Engraver WinX64” as the printer.
  3. Click the settings icon next to the selected printer (looks like a gear) to bring up Epilog’s settings window.
  4. In the Epilog window (which has distinctive graphics), start by selecting “Raster” or “Vector” as the job type (depending on your job). Do not select “Combined.” Then, set your resolution in dots per inch (DPI); between 300-600 DPI is standard for most purposes (higher = more detailed).
  5. Refer to the wooden chart behind the desktop and/or the manual’s suggestions for laser speed/power/frequency per your material. For example, the chart suggests 60%/100% for a 600 DPI raster job on wood. Input your settings.
  6. Make sure auto-focus is checked and the piece size matches your material’s dimensions. (Epilog’s settings seem to revert to 8.5 x 11 even if you already told Corel Draw that your “piece” is 24 x 18 inches.)
  7. Press “OK” when done with the Epilog window, then “Apply” to save your settings.
  8. Double check that your file’s media size matches the material’s dimensions (use inches).
  9. Now click the “print” button. This will send the job to the Helix.
  10. Press “Go” on the Helix to start laser cutting.
  11. When your job is done, press the trash icon on the Helix.

Cleaning the laser cutter

This page of CCRMA documentation last committed on Wed Jul 26 13:04:07 2023 -0700 by Nils Tonnaett. Stanford has a page for Digital Accessibility.