For this assignment, you’ll learn how to design for and operate the laser cutter.

Learning objectives

The goal of this assignment is to learn about laser cutting: what the laser cutter and and can’t do, how to make designs for the laser cutter, and how to safely operate it.

Laser cutter warnings!

The most important rule is never run the laser cutter unattended! You could cause a fire! This means be next to it, watching it. If you have to leave, pause your cutting job or get someone else to watch it for you.

Don’t put anything into the laser cutter unless you’re sure it’s safe to cut. Some materials (like PVC) can release chlorine gas, which isn’t safe and can harm the optics of the laser cutter; other materials (like foam core) are extra flammable.

Don’t try to etch the reflective surface of mirrors (the laser will bounce off), but you can definitely flip them over and etch off the reflective part from the back.

There are materials in the lab that are definitely safe to use: cardboard, acyrlic, wood, paper.


See the notes below for details on each deliverable, including how to turn them in, as well as for grading criteria.

  1. An attractive design for a decorative object that is at least 2.5D, uses at least two materials, and is laser-cuttable.
  2. The object you designed cut out on the laser cutter and assembled.
  3. Several high-quality photographs of your finished object from different angles.

What to do


Learn more about laser cutting:

Learn about setting up Illustrator for laser cutting with this PDF.

Get inspired! Check out these awesome things:

Design assignment

Your goal is to design something that you can laser cut that is cool looking! The thing you design must adhere to the following requirements.

  • At least 2.5D: your design should involve multiple layers or bending so it’s not just one single flat sheet of something.
  • Combines at least two materials. Involve wood, cardboard, acrylic, fabric, paper, etc.
  • Interesting and/or creative: don’t turn in something that you spent 10 minutes on. I’ll be able to tell! Use your creativity—get inspired by objects online or in the world.


Take and turn in several high-quality photographs (not crooked, in focus) illustrating your finished item.

Turning in

You’ll show your final output object in class on the due date. You should turn in your design file (in the format of the program you made it in, e.g. Illustrator .ai file) and your photographs via direct message to me in Slack by 1:59 pm on the due date.

Please name your files laser_cutting-<yourname>.<ext>, replacing <yourname> with your name and <ext> with your file extension. For example, laser_cutting-dan.jpg. If you have more than one file of a type, please add a number, as in laser_cutting-dan01.jpg.


See the syllabus for how much this assignment contributes to your final grade. The grade for this assignment is determined as follows:

  • 2.5D+: your object is multiple layers or otherwise not just flat (40%)
  • Decorative: your object is a decorative object that could displayed in your home or the lab (20%)
  • Creativity: design is interesting/creative (30%)
  • Photos: photos are good-quality (10%)