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Digital fabrication lab

Laser cutting in the Digital Fabrication Lab

The digital fabrication laboratory at the Welsh School of Architecture (WSA) is a facility for the digital fabrication of computer-generated components and models.

The facility is located in the Bute Building, room  0.17.

Operating Hours: 9:00 to 16:00 Monday to Friday; minus 1 hour for lunch.

To protect our computers from viruses, all file exchanges within the digital lab are done via the intranet, using Onedrive, linked to Cardiff University accounts.

Laser cutting

The Welsh School of Architecture currently has two Laser Cutters;

  • A 60w Epilog M2 Fusion driver-based CO2 Laser Cutter
  • A 50w FB700 Series software-based CO2 Laser Cutter.

Students who have completed a Laser Cutter Induction & Competency Test are able to book up to 4 hours (within 14 days advance) on these machines through their student account.

Adobe Illustrator or vector-based PDF files are required for these machines. Students are advised to prepare files in advance in order to maximise time on these machines.

Only laser compatible material can be used in these machines. If there is any doubt to the compatibility of the material, the Digital Craftsman can refuse its use.

Acceptable materialsProhibited materials
Card and paperAcetate
Mounting boardLexan
Corrugated cardboardPVC
Laser plywoodPolycarbonate
Laser grade MDF (EU Class E1/Medite)Vinyl
Slate and other stone (etching only)Foam core
Glass (etching only)Any material not listed above

3D printing

The School has 3x Ultimaker 2+ and 3x Ultimaker 2 Extended+ 3d printers.

These machines are considered ‘self-service’ and are accessible on a first come, first served basis; apart from busy periods where certain years or groups may have a designated machine.

Care should be taken when creating 3d files to 3d print, individual software guidance is readily available on the internet. Ulimaker guidelines can be found on the Ultimaker website.

Acceptable file types are: 3mf, OBJ, with STL being the most common. These machines can also print from 2d images like PNG and Jpeg.

Students using these machines should be aware of the following:

  • A student can only use one 3d printer at a time.
  • Only PLA filament is used on these machines.
  • To accommodate long print times, these machines are often left to run overnight.
  • Files will be routinely deleted from the SD cards in the machines.

CNC routing

The School has a RouterCAM T-1290 CNC router

Toolpaths are written in the digital lab using Deskproto software. STL files are required for 3d machining and Vector-based DXF (R14) & Illustrator 8 files are required for 2d contour cutting.

This machine is suitable for machining both block and sheet material to a maximum depth of 50mm. We are unable to machine metal; however, we can engrave soft alloys like brass and aluminium

It is advised to speak to the lab manager before buying or preparing any material for this machine.

Facility staff

The digital fabrication lab is managed by our Digital Lab Manager, who has a broad knowledge of design and making across the creative sector. He is on hand for advice and guidance on all aspects of making and fabrication.

Matthew Harris

Matthew Harris

Digital Lab Manager

+44 (0)29 2087 9101