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Makerspace

The RDC Makerspace is a place to learn through exploration, innovation, and creation.

Laser Machine

The RDC Makerspace has one laser machine.

                                                  

The Laser machine is available to RDC students, faculty, and staff, and the public, to make two- and three-dimensional objects from birch or acrylic sheets using a design uploaded from a digital file. 

  • Prior to using the laser machine you must complete a mandatory orientation and sign a Makerspace User Agreement form.  
  • The laser machine is to be used in a non-commercial capacity.  Mass quantity printouts will be referred to a commercial company or RDC's Center for Innovation and Manufacturing (CIM).
  • Uploaded files will be deleted once your object has been created.   

Use of the laser machine must conform to all Red Deer College Policies, specifically, but not limited to:

The laser machine is to be operated by RDC Makerspace Technicians only.

The RDC Makerspace laser engraver may be used only for lawful purposes and RDC reserves the right to refuse any print request. The machine cannot be used to create material that is:

  1. Prohibited by provincial or federal law.
  2. Unsafe, harmful, dangerous, or poses an immediate threat to the well-being of others.
  3. In violation of the intellectual property rights of others. For example, reproducing material that is subject to copyright, patent, or trademark protection.
  4. A weapon, in part or whole, or any object that can be mistaken for a weapon.
  5. Too large for the printer.
  6. Lewd, malicious, or otherwise unsuitable for creating a welcoming and inclusive public space.

Items created using the laser machine are presented as is, with no cleaning.

Items must be picked up within 3 days after email confirmation is sent and by the individual who submitted the job. Items not picked up after 3 days will become the property of RDC and may be discarded.


Find out more about the Trotect Laser

What is a laser machine?

A laser machine, also known as a laser engraver or a laser cutter, uses highly focused and amplified light to cut and/or etch a design onto material. The RDC Makerspace has a Speedy 100 Trotec laser machine that can cut or engrave (or both) on materials like wood, plastic, acrylic, fabrics, and other materials. The machine can be used for both two dimensional and three dimensional design which means you can engrave detailed graphics, cut intricate patterns and/or create 3D objects.

Laser engraving (or etching): The laser moves horizontally along the surface of the material you are using and etches (burns) the surface of the material creating a shape, graphic, or picture.

Laser cutting: The laser is used to burn (cut) all the way through the material.

Where do I start?

If you are new to using a laser machine and wish to learn the basics the best place to start is with Instructables. Instructables has easy, interactive tutorials which teach the basics of design and modeling.

How do I use the laser machine?

You will be required to complete a one-time mandatory Laser Machine orientation and sign a Makerspace User Agreement. Once you have passed the training with 100% and completed the User Agreement you can submit your jobs in person to a Makerspace Technician.You will be asked to complete a Laser Machine Design Checklist and review your submission.

Please note: Operation of the laser machine is restricted to the Makerspace Technicians.

What materials can be used with the RDC Makerspace laser machine?

The materials approved for use with the RDC Makerspace Trotec are 3 mm Baltic birch and 3 mm acrylic sheets. 

Baltic birch: Purchase at the Library Desk on the Main Floor. If you wish to purchase elsewhere, ensure that the sheet is not larger than 12"x24", as that is the maximum size of the laser bed. 

Acrylic: Purchase at the Library Desk on the Main Floor. If you wish to purchase elsewhere, check with a Makerspace Technician first and provide a safety data sheet (SDS) and the thickness (in millimetres) of the acrylic you plan to use. 

Other materials: If you wish to use material other than Baltic birch or acrylic, it must be approved in advance by the Makerspace Supervisor.  Provide a Makerspace Technician with the safety data sheet (SDS) and the thickness (in millimetres) of the material. It may take time to investigate whether the material can be used safely with our machine.

There are two main reasons the proposed material may not be approved for use:

  • Some materials emit hazardous or toxic fumes. Materials that cannot be used include:
    • Leather and artificial leather containing chromium (VI)
    • Carbon fibers (carbon)
    • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
    • Polyvinyl butyrale (PVB)
    • Polytetrafluoroethylenes (PTFE /Teflon)
    • Beryllium oxide
    • Any materials containing halogens (fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine and astatine), epoxy or phenolic resins
  • The laser machine uses different attachments for different materials. If we do not have the correct attachment, we will not approve your request.

What can I create with the laser machine?

While the possibilities may seem endless, there are some limitations: some designs may be too large for our machine, the material cannot be used in our space, or we do not have the necessary laser head.

The RDC Makerspace equipment may be used only for lawful purposes.  Equipment cannot be used to create material that is:

  • Prohibited by provincial or federal law.
  • Unsafe, harmful, dangerous or poses an immediate threat to the well-being of others.
  • In violation of the intellectual property rights of others. For example, reproducing material that is subject to copyright, patent, or trademark protection.
  • A weapon, in part or whole, or any object that can be mistaken for a weapon.
  • Lewd, malicious or otherwise unsuitable for creating a welcoming and inclusive public space.

If you are new to engraving and cutting and wish to learn the basics, start with Inkscape. This software allows you to create a wide variety of graphics, convert your jpg images into an svg (scalable vector graphic) file, or download an existing design.

Find or create your own design

You can create your own laser design using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software or you can find existing ready-to-cut designs online.  Many online designs are free, while others you need to purchase. Some sites to try include:

Find Images

Another way to create designs is to download picture files from the internet. You must conform to copyright rules and RDC's Copyright Materials Acceptable Use policy. Use only copyright-friendly images. 

Convert Images

To convert images to laser printable files we recommend using Inkscape (available at RDC Library).

When you are ready to submit your design please ensure the file meets these specifications:

  1. File dimensions must be provided in millimeters and the file format must be SVG.
  2. Files must be submitted on a USB drive.
  3. Each separate part of your request must be submitted as a single file.
  4. Submit a Laser Machine Design Checklist with each file.
  5. Any files we receive are assumed to be final versions and laser ready. Staff will review the submission and will follow up if modifications are required.
  6. Users are responsible for making any design modifications and resubmitting the changes. Technicians will not make modifications to a file on your behalf. Examples of modifications include:
    • Adding or removing elements
    • Increasing or decreasing the item size
  7. You will be notified if the design is incompatible with our equipment.
  8. In submitting digital files for laser engraving/cutting, the user agrees to assume all responsibility for and shall hold the RDC harmless in, all matters related to patented, trademarked or copyrighted materials.

Limitations

  • Maximum size: 12"x24"
  • drawings should be slightly smaller to fit within these dimensions
  • Personal jobs: Limited to a 5"x5" surface area per week.

Priority

Submissions will generally be made on a first-come, first-served basis in the order they are received and approved. We endeavour to print the oldest item in the queue first; however, priority will be given to RDC students and RDC related projects in the following order:

  1. Projects or assignments related to RDC coursework
  2. Other academic and personal RDC student, faculty, or staff projects

Pickup

You will be notified by email when item(s) are ready for pickup. Your pickup date depends on a number of factors, including your position in the queue. We cannot guarantee pickup dates so please submit jobs well in advance.  

Items made in the laser machine:

  • are presented as is.
  • must be picked up within 3 days after email confirmation is sent.
  • must be picked up by the individual who submitted the file.

Items not picked up after 3 days will become the property of RDC and may be discarded.

Who can use the laser engraving/cutting service?

The service is offered to RDC students, faculty and staff as well as the Public. The public do need to register for a FREE Community Borrower card before they can use the service.

How much does it cost to use the laser machine?

There is a fee for usage of the machine, plus materials cost

How long will my laser job take?

Laser engraving and cutting time varies depending on the size and complexity of your design. Most projects take 30 minutes or less.

After submitting your laser job to a Makerspace Technician your file needs to be assessed and added to the laser queue. There is a waiting period before your design is produced. Student assignments will take priority in the queue.

You will receive an email when your project is is available for pickup from the RDC Makerspace. The amount owing for the usage charge is included in the email.

How soon will my item be ready for pickup?

Your pickup date depends on your position in the queue. We cannot guarantee pickup dates, so please submit jobs well in advance.

You will be notified by email when your item is ready for pickup. Any items not picked up within 3 days of the email notification will become the property of RDC and may be disposed of.

What if my job fails?

Sometimes designs fail due to technical issues with the design. Makerspace Technicians will strive to identify issues prior to cutting/engraving and may recommend revisions to your design. We cannot guarantee the success and quality of the object. 

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Laser Machine Usage Fees

There is a usage fee applied to projects made with the laser machine. A minimum charge of 30 minutes applies. Projects related to RDC assignments are charged at the rate of $2.00 / 30 minutes (or portion thereof), while personal projects are charged at the rate of $4.00 / 30 minutes (or portion thereof).

Assignments take priority over personal jobs and are subject to verification with your RDC instructor. The usage fee is added to your library account and must be paid when you pick up your item.  

Project Purpose Cost per 30 minutes (or portion thereof)
RDC Assignment $2.00
Personal $4.00
 

Laser Machine Supplies

Use of the RDC Makerspace and all equipment except the laser machine are free. There is a cost for consumables associated with some pieces of equipment. Payment may be made at the Library Desk on the main floor.

Laser Machine Supplies    
3 mm Baltic birch per 12"x24" sheet $3.00
3 mm acrylic sheet per 12"x24" sheet $11.00