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Laser Cutting and Engraving

Digital Union Feature

The Digital Union Prototyping Studio has a Glowforge Plus which can be used to engrave and cut a variety of materials. 

The machine is operated by staff only, but anyone at Ohio State can request a project be produced.

  • Files for cutting and scoring should be delivered in vector format, preferably in .svg format.
  • Files for engraving can be vector (svg) or bitmap (png) format.


Submissions are selected to be produced on a rolling basis. Priority may be given to academic or research-related projects.

Submitters will receive an email confirming whether their entry has been selected, and then when it it ready to be picked up.

Because our services are free, we are unable to produce large quantities of items. We deal with a large quantity of highly-varied submissions, therefore we cannot promise a turnaround time between submission and item receipt. Because of this, if you have access to other laser services on campus, you may want to consider them instead of us if you are on a deadline, such as for a class project.

Laser Cutting and Engraving Request Form

Glowforge Plus Laser Cutter


The Digital Union has some materials on hand, but anyone making multiple projects or exceptionally large projects may be asked to provide their own materials.

All materials must be no larger than 18” x 20.5” x 2”. The following is a general list of approved and unapproved materials, but is not all inclusive. Materials should be flat, not cylindrical.

Note: If you wish to produce an object using your own materials, you MUST get prior approval for the material with the material request form

Approved Materials

For Glowforge, materials that will likely be approved include:

  • Cardboard (not all will be approved) 
  • Acrylic, Lucite and Plexiglas 
  • Wood 
  • Fabric, except plastic-backed (please use the material approvals form for information on the suitability of a particular fabric) 
  • Leather (Genuine only, NOT pleather or vegan leather) 

Unapproved Materials

The following materials can NEVER be used in the Glowforge. This list is NOT all inclusive. Any materials not on the approved list should never be cut without approval, due to the potential to damage the laser or create toxic fumes.

  • Vinyl/PVC (We do have a vinyl cutter if your project involves vinyl)
  • Adhesive backed products 
  • Styrofoam/Polystyrene 
  • Foam of any type 
  • Resin/Epoxy 
  • Pleather/faux leather 
  • Plastic (3D prints cannot be put into the Glowforge) 
  • Metal



Any software which can produce a vector file may be used to produce shapes for cutting on the laser cutter. Adobe Illustrator and  Inkscape are common choices. 

If you use Solidworks or another 3d modeling software, please make sure to export as planes. We cannot use a file with the 3rd dimension included, since in laser cutting, the 3rd dimension is determined by the thickness of the material that is cut from.

Bitmap formats such as .png and .jpg can only be used if the file submitted is to be engraved, such as a photograph you are engraving onto a piece of wood. If you are engraving a geometric shape, we still recommend using a vector format, because it will drastically speed up the amount of machine-time required.

  • Glowforge Plus

The Digital Union's laser cutting service is available to Ohio State students, faculty and staff to make objects in wood, acrylic or other materials based on a user-submitted digital computer file (.svg or .png format).

I. Use

The laser cutter printer may be used only for lawful purposes. No one will be permitted to use the laser cutter to create material that is:

  1. Prohibited by local, state or federal law.
  2. Unsafe, harmful, dangerous or poses an immediate threat to the well being of others. (Such use may violate the terms of use of the manufacturer.)
  3. Obscene or otherwise inappropriate for the University environment.
  4. In violation of another's intellectual property rights. For example, the printer will not be used to reproduce material subject to copyright, patent or trademark protection.

II. Assessment

The Digital Union reserves the right to:

  1. Refuse any laser cutting request.
  2. Use staff discretion to organize the print queue for overall efficient output.
  3. Photograph all laser cut objects produced; publicly share user-submitted information related to jobs. Images and information will be used for monitoring, marketing.
  4. Gather feedback from users.
  5. Implement additional requirements to streamline the process of vetting, producing, and reporting.

III. Cost

Laser cutting and engraving through the Digital Union is free.

IV. Pickup

Items produced from the Digital Union laser cutter that are not picked up within 7 days after being printed become the property of the Digital Union. Items must be picked up by the individual who submitted them, using his or her Buck-ID.

V. Access

Only Digital Union staff may have hands-on access to the laser cutter.

How to Produce Items

Laser cutting and engraving at the Digital Union is free. Read the Terms above, then Use this online form to submit a file of the item you wish to produce. Lead time is typically 2 weeks, but we cannot promise turnaround due to our high volume of submissions. Priority may given to submissions that demonstrate academic need, originality, and innovative potential.


Why was my submission is rejected?

If we reject a submission, you will usually have an email from a Digital Union manager explaining why. Common reasons for rejection are problems with the production of the object, sizing issues in relation to our laser, or requests for materials we are unable to use.

How long will I have to wait for my item to be produced?

Usually we can fabricate items within two weeks. However, during peak times, our submissions increase dramatically and we are unable to turnaround objects this quickly. Therefore we are generally not the best choice for class projects, especially end-of-semester projects. 

Once your job reaches the laser, it may take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours to produce, depending on the size, number of parts and complexity of the design. Once complete, staff will remove your item from the laser and you will receive an automated email once your item is ready for pickup.

What materials can I cut or engrave at the Digital Union?

Birch plywood or acrylic in transparent, black, red or white. During the submission process, you may indicate your material preference, which will be granted if available. If your preference is not available, your object will be produced in your second choice, unless you indicate otherwise.

How large of an object can I produce?

The largest material that will fit into the Glowforge is 20 in x 12in. The max cutting/engraving size is slightly smaller at 11 in (27.9 cm) deep and 19.5 in (49.5 cm) wide. This can be reduced further in some instances due to complexity of design.

Can I produce an item without having to submit a file?

No. All users must go through the same submission process, which involves agreeing to the Terms, and providing a file of the object to be produced.

Will you design a file for me?

Unfortunately we do not have staffing to provide design services. Feel free to stop in and talk to one of our staff about searching for a file online or modifying an existing design.