Digital Fabrication Lab

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 facility for the digital fabrication of computer-generated models. The lab currently consists of a CADCAM FB-700 series laser cutter, an Ultimaker2+ 3D Printer and a RouterCam T-1290 CNC.

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


As of the 13th December, the facility will be closed due to remedial works. 3d printing will still be accessible by speaking to the Digital Craftsman.

A request form must be submitted for all work on the CNC and laser cutter.
Digital Fabrication request form

Laser Cutting

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 590mm 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.

PDF and Adobe Illustrator files will import directly into APS-Ethos

Documents should be organised into three layers and three basic stroke colours:

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

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).

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.

Acceptable Materials

  • Card and Paper
  • Mounting board
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Timber
  • Laser Plywood
  • Laser Grade MDF (EU Class E1 / Medite)
  • Acrylic/Plexiglass/Perspex
  • Slate and other stone (etching only)
  • Glass (etching only)
Prohibited Materials

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

Please ensure sheet material is perfectly FLAT, bowed or bent material can significantly lengthen the cut times and you may jepodise your slot. Laser ply can be obtained from Kitronic or Timberite

Laser Cutter Software Tutorial
Aps-Ethos Setup Tips | Laser cutting tips

3D printing

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 (except when deadlines collide).
  • Available only during Digital Lab opening times (09:00 – 16:00 Monday to Friday).
  • Users should read the support documentation provided.
  • Digital Craftsman will be on hand to assist, but not print for you.

Files will be routinely deleted from the printers SD card so keep a backup should you need to print again.

Preparing your files for 3D printing

.STL (stereolithographic) files are required for 3d printing (available as an ‘Export’ option from 3DS Max and a ‘Save as’ option in Rhino 3d).

Use the Cura software to convert your .stl files into G-code, which is the file format required to 3d print. It is advised to speak to the Digital Craftsman when setting your file up for the first time, or if you are uncertain.

There is a build limit of: 223 x 223 x 205mm.

Cantilevers at less than 45 degrees will require supports. Cura will automatically add supports where necessary once the ‘Print Support Structure’ box is checked.

More information is available at:

CNC Routing

The School has a RouterCAM T-1290 CNC router which is only accessible for 5th and 3rd years. If you wish to use the CNC please contact Matthew Harris, our Digital Craftsman.

Axis Travel: 1220 x 900 x 130mm
Max. Machinable: 1220 x 900 x 110mm
Maximum Feed Rate: 200mm/sec (12m/min)
Spindle Motor: 2.2kW (3hp)
Spindle Speed: 12,000-24,000rpm
Max. Collet Size: 16mm
Resolution: 0.05mm

2d Routing Setup | 3d Routing Setup