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Laser Cutting, Etching, and Scoring: Using a Laser Cutter

Learn how to use the Glowforge laser cutters in the lab.

Making with a Laser Cutter

Make use of vs make it

Make Use Of

Beginners: The first and easiest way to start cutting is to find a project file that someone has already made and use it. The Projects and Resources page can help you locate files to print.

Make It

The second way to engage with laser cutters  is to make a project file from scratch yourself. This involves using software, and possibly a scanner, to create an SVG file. the printer will understand.

How to Cut

Your First Cut

Instructions for creating your first cut project....

  1. Arrive at the Innovation Lab.
  2. Check in with the staff.
  3. Decide if you want to make or make use of a design.
    1. If make, open one of the applications listed below on one of the High-Tech Makerspace computers.
    2. If make use of, find an existing project online.
  4. Choose which of the two Glowforges meets your needs.
  5. Turn on the Glowforge.
  6. Open the top of the Glowforge.
  7. Place the material to be cut.
  8. Close the lid.
  9. Visit the Glowforge web app from one of the High-Tech Makerspace computers.
  10. Load your project file.
  11. Select on-screen which Glowforge to use.
  12. Send the project file to print.
  13. Turn on the air filter.
  14. Push the start button on the Glowforge you selected.

Software to Make Files

Several types of software can be used to design project files for the Glowforge. Some are free, some are not. You can use several options installed on the Media Studio desktop computers.

Know Your Machine


front view and back view of Glowforge laser cutterglowforge back components

Equipment Manuals

Do's and Don'ts of Laser Cutters