Full Spectrum Lasers


We have 2 Full Spectrum laser cutter/engravers. Each one uses a 40 watt CO2 laser tube. The laser beam is in the infrared portion of the spectrum.

Lasers can reliably cut through plywood up to 1/8" thick. (Slightly more if cutting solid wood.)

Each laser bed is 20" x 12".


When running, the laser must always be monitored for fire by the Operator.

Lasers are operated via Retina Engrave 3D software. It is installed on the Laser Area computer, but...

The software can also be installed and run on any Windows machine that is on the Area 515 WiFi network. The required version is no longer being updated. The last release was version 4.430 and it may be downloaded here on the Full Spectrum website.

Power and Speed settings for various materials cannot be listed here since laser tubes slowly lose power over their lifetimes. (Therefore the settings that work for a material in January may or may not work for the same material in July.)

Please see the Power vs Speed charts on top of each machine to learn the current state of each laser tube. (Power vs Speed charts list the date they were made, and new ones are made on a strict schedule of whenever-the-Stewards-get-around-to-it. They are done on 1/8" Baltic Birch plywood.)

Baltic Birch Plywood

The Stewards try to keep a small supply of quality 1/8" Baltic Birch, 20" x 12" panels for members to purchase. They can be found on the labeled shelf beneath the lasers. Please put money in the metal lock box on the right side underneath the lasers.

Any materials found on the wider set of shelves on the right is free for anyone to use without charge. Likewise, if you have any left over material bigger than about 4" x 4", you can put that on those shelves for others to use.

Approved Materials


  • Delrin (acetal) - the harder the strength, the better

  • Kapton tape

  • Mylar (polyester) - if very thin (NO GOLD COLORED)

  • Nylon

  • Polyethylene (PE)

Wood and Paper:

  • Wood

  • Plywood (less than 1/8" thick) - MUST BE FLAT

  • MDF (less than 1/8" thick)

  • Most Paper Products - avoid stacking

  • Cardboard - MUST BE FLAT

Other Stuff:

  • Denim

  • Cotton

  • Magnetic Sheet

  • Cork

Stuff Not Banned But That Will Smell So Bad You'll Yearn For Flatulence:

  • Leather - NOT PLEATHER

  • Acrylic (Plexiglas)


MaterialDangerMore Info

PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride)/vinyl/pleather/artificial leather)

Emits pure Chlorine gas

The fumes will ruin the laser optics, corrode the metal portions of the machine, and ruin the motion control system. (Also, Chlorine gas is better known as Mustard Gas.)

Polycarbonate / Lexan

Catches fire, melts, discolors

Polycarbonate doesn't laser well because it strongly absorbs infrared radiation - which is what our lasers use.


Emits cyanide gas

In addition to the toxic fumes, ABS has a higher chance of catching fire, and tends to leave gobs of melted plastic in laser bed

HDPE / milk bottle plastic

Catches fire and melts

It melts. It gets gooey. Don't use it.

PolyStyrene Foam

Catches fire

It catches fire, it melts.

Polypropylene (PP)

Catches fire

Like PolyStyrene, it melts, catches fire, and the melted drops continue to burn and turn into rock-hard drips and pebbles.


Emits toxic fumes

It's a mix of two materials that can't be cut. Glass (etch, no cut) and epoxy resin (fumes)

Coated Carbon Fiber

Emits noxious fumes

A mix of two materials. Thin carbon fiber mat can be cut, with some fraying - but not when coated.

Last updated