Laser cutting

Laser Cutting

A laser cutter provides a fast and accurate way of cutting a variety of materials, such as paper, card, acrylic, wood, laminate and fabric. It works by firing a high-powered carbon dioxide laser through a series of mirrors and a focusing lens to produce a beam that burns very precisely through the media. The laser is controlled by computer numerical control (CNC) which moves the laser head by following a vector design. Create designs using Inkscape, Adobe Illustrator or Affinity Designer.

You can design and laser cut 2D designs at Christchurch City Libraries. We have a laser cutter that can be used to cut and engrave designs in wood and other materials. The laser cutter is available for use at Open Creative Sessions, by booking a librarian, or by using our laser cutting form.


Submitting designs

  • Design files for laser cutting should be submitted via the order form.
  • Files must be submitted as either AI, SVG, or DXF only.
  • Cut lines should be in red.
  • Engrave lines should be in blue.
  • Engraved fill shapes should be outlined in black.
  • Other information that could help us understand your requirements, but which should not be cut or engraved, can be included in green. This might include the expected dimensions, which can be useful as sizes can change when files are transferred between computers and software.
  • Images (black or white, or colour) can be included for grey-scale engraving, but large images may take a long time to engrave and are therefore discouraged, and may result in us prioritising other, quicker jobs. For best results, use high contrast images. Images should be embedded in the file.
  • Text should be converted to curves, outlines, or paths in the software you are using to create your design (e.g. Adobe Illustrator, Affinity Designer, Inkscape, etc.). This is because the software we use to process your job does not understand fonts. Converting them to curves, outlines, or paths (terms differ depending what software you’re using) turns them into shapes instead of letters. Find out more.

We will cut exactly what you send us. Any errors in the design are your responsibility. We will not cut any designs that do not conform to the above criteria, or which for any reason it is unclear how you want us to cut them. We will do our best to cut your design within 21 days (subject to availability of material) and we will let you know by email when it is ready to collect. Designs must be collected within 21 days, otherwise we reserve the right to re-use any material that we have used, for other purposes. To be fair to all customers, we reserve the right to put limits on the number of designs we will cut per person per month. While we are happy to help small businesses and start-up companies with prototyping, we will not cut large numbers of the same thing intended for resale or other commercial purposes. We will not cut designs that clearly infringe copyright or other intellectual property rights, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you have the legal right to use all of the elements in your design.

Design Constraints

All designs will be cut from 2.8 mm MDF. Please ensure that your design will work for material of this thickness. For designs with separate parts intended to fit together we recommend a ‘kerf’ or ‘burn’ of 0.1 mm. For most designs, this should result in a tight fit that does not require glue or screws. The maximum dimensions of our laser cutter are 900 x 600 mm. We cannot cut designs that contain any single element that does not fit within these dimensions.

Collect your laser cutting

We will email you to let you know when your laser cutting is ready to pick up. Laser cutting must be collected from the pickup location selected. Please collect your laser cutting within three weeks, or let us know if it will take a bit longer.

Laser Cutting Order Form

Use this form to order laser cutting "click and collect" at Tūranga or South Library. * indicates a required field
  • Name * Required
  • Please ZIP all your files before uploading. Only ZIP files can be uploaded here. We can cut from AI, SVG and DFX files. Cut lines should be in red. Engraved lines should be in blue. Engraved fill shapes should be in black. Other information not intended to be cut or engraved can be included in green. Limit of three uploaded Zip files, total of 25MB. Information about how to create Zip files can be found here:
    Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: zip.
    Maximum file size - 25 mega bytes.
  • No single element should exceed 900 x 600 mm
  • Does your design contain images? * Required
    Make sure your images are high contrast and embedded in the file.
  • Does your design contain text? * Required
    Make sure your text is converted to curves or outlines.
  • Pickup branch * Required
    * The laser cutter at South Library is smaller, so jobs larger than 600 mm x 400 mm will have to be collected from Tūranga.
  • Is there anything you would like us to know?
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


While there is no charge for laser cutting, donations allow us to continue to provide this service. We suggest a recommended donation of $1 for each A4 sized piece of MDF used to make your design. This will allow us to recover the costs of the materials used to make your design. Designs with large fill shapes or images can take longer and incur significant additional time-related costs, so you may want to donate a bit extra for designs that take more than 10 minutes to cut and engrave. Donations can be paid when you pick your laser cutting up from Tūranga.

Laser cutting photos

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