General FAQs

Laser Cutting

What is laser cutting and how does it work?
Our laser cutter uses a high powered CO2 laser in order to vaporize the material in its beam path. Due to the vaporizing of material the laser cutter is able to do complex designs otherwise, near impossible to do via hand labor. In our system, angled mirrors reposition the laser beam in different directions with the purpose of it being directed into one focusing lens. The lens then draws the laser into a point onto the material surface vaporizing the artwork via the parameters set on the software.
What are some limitations of the laser cutter?
Laser cutters can make cuts as small as the diameter of the laser beam itself. However, material limitations still exist. Cutting "thick" materials continue to go beyond the laser cutters' current capabilities such that, discolorations, and burning usually occur. In such events, post-processing using tools in the woodworking shop becomes apparent.
What materials can be used in the laser cutter?
The most popular mediums used in our laser cutter are wood, MDF, cardboard, and acrylic. For a more comprised list visit the laser cutting page here.

3D Printing

What is 3D printing?
3D Printing is a prototyping process such that, a real object is created from a 3D design. The digital model is saved into the .STL format which is then converted into G-Code and then sent to the 3D printer. The 3D printer then prints the part file layer by layer in order to form the real object.
a 3D printer is similar to a 2D inkjet printer such that, the 3D model is built up layer by layer, which is enabled by the printer operating in three dimensions.
What are some 3D printing applications??
Some of the most widely use application of 3D printing is in the medical industry. With the aide of 3D printing, surgeons can design unique patient specific 3D printed models. Other healthcare technologies using 3D printing now are, but not limited to: low-cost prosthetic, cardiac models, bone, ear cartilage, medical equipment, cranium replacement, synthetic skin, and much more. Currently, 3D printing is used in almost everything from toys to aerospace components.
What materials can be used to print with 3D printers?
Many different materials can be used for 3D printing, such as ABS plastic, PLA, nylon, flexible filaments (NinjaFlex), carbon fiber, glass filled polyamide, exotic filaments (wood), epoxy resins, silver, titanium, steel, wax, photopolymers, polycarbonate, chocolate, cement and much more. The 3D printers available at Rutgers Makerspace can only use: ABS plastic, PLA, NinjaFlex, and Resin.
What 3D modeling software is suitable for 3D printing?
Any software that allows the user to save a 3D object in the STL format is suitable. For a more comprised list please visit the Resource page here.


I am new to the space can I use the wood shop?
Yes. New, or seasoned makers please inform a member of the space of what your project consist of. Together, we can then map out what tools you should use in order to complete the project. A tool list can be found on our resource page here. Do not forget to ask a member of our staff for safety protocols for each machine/tool. If unsure on the use of any of the tool(s) in the wood shop please ask a member of our staff.
What is the best way to join together two pieces of wood?
We currently have screws and wood glue available for makers to use. Note that wood glue is designed to give better adhesion than screws for most projects. However, there is a curing time for pieces glued together.
Wood glue is spilling from my part, how do I fix this?
One obvious solution is to use the correct amount of glue. However, depending on your expertise you can run into not having enough glue between your parts. After clamping down your part wipe off any excess glue immediately with a damp sponge or paper towel. Then after the glue is dry sand off the joint to ensure no glue is on the surface.

CNC Milling

What is CNC milling?
Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) milling is a machining process that utilizes both drilling and cutting in order to achieve the complex shapes desired in the part file. The computer analyzes the G-code and moves the drill bit along different axes, in order to make various shapes and holes.
How do we use the CNC mill?
First, you need to use an appropriate CAD software in order to design the 2D/3D image and save the file accordingly either as a .DXF or .STL, respectively. Then some post-processing has to be done to get the correct .CAM and toolpaths built. Finally, contact a member of the Makerspace staff in order to setup your material and finish the design. 
What materials can we use?
Please refer to our CNC milling page here for the suitable material list. 


Are we allowed to use anything in the electronics room?
Yes. Our electronics room is open to Rutgers students, faculty, and staff. Feel free to use any components in the space. Please, put the parts used back from where you obtain them. If you have questions regarding your project please contact a member of the space.
Can we borrow equipment?
No. We currently do not have a system in place to allow students to borrow or buy components.
I do not know how to solder, how can I learn?
A member of the space can assist in teaching you soldering techniques for your project. Also, do not miss our next soldering certification, more information can be found on our events calendar here.


Do I have to supply my own materials?
Yes. We currently do not have the inventory to allow students to use or buy materials from us.
I never used a sewing machine before, how do I learn?
We have very talented staff members to assist you in learning on how to use our machine. Please contact us here in order to arrange an appointment to get a project started.
I have experience with sewing machines. Can I just come in and use it?
Yes. Please advice a member of our staff on your project before getting started. Also, it is advised to read the manual before using the machine to reduce the chance of injury to either yourself, other makers in the Makerspace, or the machine.
What other materials/machines besides the sewing machine do you have?
Currently, we only have one sewing machine. Please feel free to contact us here in order to help build out our inventory for this department.

Vinyl Cutters

How do vinyl cutters work?
Vinyl cutter take your vector image file and follows the path, node to node, with a sharp needle cutting your image out of the material. The vinyl or similar material is first placed on a "sticky" plastic backing and then loaded into the machine. You then adjust the needle cutting depth in order to cut the material but, not cut into the plastic backing. 
I never used a vinyl cutter before. Do I have to supply my own materials to learn the machine? 
No. we will provide you with some material to get you started. However, as you want to design bigger projects on the machine we will then charge for the material cost.
What kind of files can I use for the cutters?
Similar to our laser cutter, vinyl cutters accept .dxf files to cut out your shapes.