Digital Fabrication Lab

The Welsh School of Architecture Digital Fabrication Lab is currently only available to Architecture Students.

The digital fabrication laboratory at the Welsh School of Architecture is a workshop for the digital fabrication of computer-generated models. The lab currently consists of a CADCAM FB-700 series laser cutter and an Ultimaker2 3D Printer. The laser cutter can cut a variety of sheet material up to 5mm thickness while the 3D printer uses deposit technology to create a layered 3D model made of ABS or PLA plastic up to 230mm x 225mm x 205mm.


Laser Cutting

  Laser Cutter Software Tutorial

How to prepare your files for laser cutting

All work must be submitted as APS-Ethos ISI file with a corresponding .BMP file (see video tutorial). The design should not be larger than 580mm x 800mm to allow for a border on an A1 sheet. However, the laser cutter's maximum cutting area is 725mm x 990mm. All files will be sent to the laser at 1:1 scale. Therefore, your file should be prepared at the size of your model.

APS-Ethos is available in the Media Lab.

You need to create your design as an Adobe Illustrator file to then import into APS-Ethos.

The document should be organised in three layers and three basic stroke colours:

  1. Red (Cut layer) - laser completely penetrates the material
  2. Green (Kiss-Cut/Score layer) - laser penetrates half the thickness of the material. This is useful for creating fold lines.
  3. Blue (Engrave layer) - laser engraves the lines on the surface of the material, but does not cut through.

All placed objects/lines are to be vectors with thin lines and no fills. Do not embed images (jpeg, tiff, png etc.). If you place a PDF file into Adobe Illustrator, make sure the PDF is vector-based (lines) and not image-based (pixels). Make sure there are no overlapping multiple lines (a common mistake due to flattening of 3D drawings into 2D profiles).

Acceptable Materials

Any cut pieces smaller than 5 mm may fall through the honeycomb and be lost. The 50 watts laser tube can cut through approximately 5 mm depth of most materials.

  • Card and Paper
  • Mounting board
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Timber
  • MDF
  • Acrylic/Plexiglass/Perspex
  • Slate and other stone (etching only)
  • Glass (etching only)

Prohibited Materials

  • Plywood
  • Acetate
  • Lexan
  • PVC
  • Styrene
  • Polycarbonate
  • Vinyl
  • Metal
  • Foam core
  • Any material not listed above

Prohibited materials could melt on the laser bed, catch on fire or release toxic gas which could damage the machine. Plastics can release carcinogens such as benzene.

Laser Cutter Request Form


3D printing

How to prepare your files for 3D printing

All work must be submitted as stereolithography (.STL) files (available as an export option from 3DS Max). Make sure your 3D model does not have cantilevers at less than 45 degrees.

The School's Ultimaker 2 is available for BSc Year 2 , BSc Year 3 and MArch Year 2 students with the following conditions:

  • First come first served but MArch 2 students take priority.
  • Available only when a laser cutter monitor is working Users should operate the machine responsibly and read the support documentation provided.
  • Laser cutter monitors will be on hand to assist but not print for you.

The maker prints it's own file type so you must use the Cura software to convert your .stl files. Files will be routinely deleted from the printers SD card so keep a backup should you need to print again.


CNC Routing

The School has a RouterCAM T-1290 CNC router. This is currently undergoing installation and will be available for general use in due course. Expected service delivery is September 2015.