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. 

Using the Laser Cutter

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 Creative Time at South Library, by booking a creative, or by using our laser cutting form.

Auahatanga - South Library

Open Creative Time, Thursdays at 10am to 3pm (see events calendar for dates)

Technical specifications

The laser is controlled by computer numerical control (CNC) which moves the laser head by following a vector design.

Machine type: Thunder Laser Nova-24 60W CO2 Laser
Working area: 600 x 400 mm
Other: BOFA fume capture system

Design constraints

Create designs using Inkscape, Adobe Illustrator or Affinity Designer. 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 600 x 400 mm. We cannot cut designs that contain any single element that does not fit within these dimensions.

Submitting laser cut 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.


$1 for each A4 sized piece of MDF used to make your design.

Laser Cutting order form

Laser Cutting Order Form

Use this form to order laser cutting "click and collect" at South Library.

"*" indicates required fields

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
Drop files here or
Accepted file types: zip, Max. file size: 25 MB, Max. files: 3.
    Please note SVG and DXF files may not hold size measurements, so please give us a specific measurement of your design so we can scale appropriately.
    No single element should exceed 600 x 400 mm
    Does your design contain images?*
    Make sure your images are high contrast and embedded in the file.
    Does your design contain text?*
    Make sure your text is converted to curves or outlines.
    Pickup branch*
    Is there anything you would like us to know?
    This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

    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 photos

    See our laser cutting photos on Flickr.

    Laser cut Star Wars death star with internal lighting, Tūranga

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