DigiFab Shop

Laser cutting, 3D printing, and advanced fabrication.

Two students using the robotic arm

digifab shop info 2021 (Due to the pandemic, we are stocking material from Blackline and billing the materials at a prorated cost. We will bill by 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, & whole sheets of materials. Students can submit work and use stocked materials, or they can order from Blackline and have their laser cutting job materials delivered directly to the shop. On the condition that materials for a laser cutting job are not in stock at the shop and must ordered,  students should allow 48-72 hours from job submission and to job completion. When the job is completed, students will be contacted to arrange pick-up during the hours listed below. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

The DigiFab Shop is operated by student staff. It is equipped with 4 Universal Laser System laser cutters, an Onsrud 8’x5’ CNC router, a Fanuc robotic arm with milling attachment, a Formech 4’x4’ vacuum former, a Wazer water jet, and metal working tools (welder, plasma cutter, etc.).

Policies, procedures, and/or availabilities may change depending upon campus and State of Illinois COVID policy changes or updates.

DigiFab Shop Hours Spring 2024 (Open from 1/16/24-5/5/24)

  • Monday: 9am-9pm
  • Tuesday: 9am-9pm
  • Wednesday: 9am-9pm
  • Thursday: 9am-9pm
  • Friday: 9am-5pm
  • Saturday: 12pm-5pm
  • Sunday: 12pm-5pm

Laser Cutting

The Laser Cutter Lab operates on a first-come, first-served basis with the Lab Tech on duty operating the machines. Students submit their files online and drop off their materials to the laser lab. Once both files and materials are submitted, files will be cut by trained staff in the order they are received. Upon completion, the student will receive an email notifying them that their cuts are ready to be picked up.

We operate four Universal Laser Systems laser cutters. All four systems are located in the Laser Cutter Lab in the Architecture Annex building. The lab is operated by trained staff for students and faculty from Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning.

Please see the following information on how to have files cut. Laser cutting tutorial PowerPoint


  • Universal Laser Systems laser cutter 150W (1)
  • Universal Laser Systems laser cutter VLS6.60 (3)
  • QIDI X-Max filament printer (build volume 9.8”x11.8”x11.8”) (1)
  • QIDI X-Plus filament printer (build volume 10.6”x7.9”x7.9”) (3)

Spring 2024 Laser Lab Procedures

To have your materials cut in a timely manner, we must have correct information in your file and materials in hand.

  • Set up your laser files using the laser cutting template file
    • Downloadable Template
    • Fill out all information in template, including material type and thickness, or file will be rejected
    • Name your file in the following format: netID_DateSubmitted
    • Confirm that all information on the file is complete and correct
  • Submit your file to BOX via email
  • Your files will be cut by the trained staff if all information is complete and material is dropped off by the student.
  • Submitted materials must be prepped correctly for drop off.
  • After the materials are cut, they will be taped into the sheet and put back into the storage slot
  • After your files are cut, you will receive an email from arch-lasercutting@illinois.edu notifying you that your materials are ready to be picked up

It is our goal to have your materials cut within 24 business hours (2 business days) during non-review periods. With the increase in submitted files during review periods, this number could increase to 48 business hours (4 business days). Please account for the possibility of material shortages from Blackline as well during your model building periods.

Material Specifications

Material size is limited to 18” x 32” w/ maximum material thickness of .125” (3mm).

Approved Materials

  • Acrylic [All paper, front and back, must be removed.]
  • Basswood
  • Bristol Board
  • Chipboard
  • Cork
  • Cardboard
  • Matboard
  • Museum Board
  • Paper
  • Strathmore Board
  • Plywood (only from Blackline Supply with tag)
  • HDF (only from Blackline Supply with tag)

Prohibited Materials

The ISoA reserves the right to ban or turn away any materials at any time if we feel it will harm the equipment and/or the people in the room.

  • Corrugated Plastics
  • Masonite
  • Styrene
  • Foam
  • Foamcore
  • MDF

If you would like to cut something that is not on either list, please contact us before purchasing a material. We are willing to test new materials. However, you MUST provide a sample piece, along with a Material Safety Data Sheet for your material, a minimum of 1 week in advance for us to test. Approval will be left up to lab management.

Laser Cutting Policies

  • The Laser Lab operates on a first come, first served basis; once we have both your files and materials, your cut will be next in line.
  • Files to be cut must be set up in the template available for download above.
  • If it is not properly set up, your cuts will be delayed and/or you will receive an email notifying you what you need to do to fix them.
  • Instructions are listed in the template file on how to set up your cut files.
  • Lab techs will not be responsible for modifying or correcting files.
  • Please do not change the template scale; scale your objects down with the correct scale factor. The lab techs will only cut files that are scaled to 1:1.
  • To get as many students files cut, we will only cut for one student for 2 hours in 1 day.
    • If their cuts are not yet complete after 2 days, the student will be notified.
    • We can either keep your materials on hand or you can pick up the pieces that have already been cut. Should files need to be cut the second day, you will move to the top of the queue. However, if there is no demand for files to be cut for other students, we can continue to cut more than the 2 hour limit.
  • We do not have storage to continue to hold your materials. Please pick them up as soon as you are notified of their completion. Files not picked up within 24 hours from when you received the email notification that your cuts have been completed will be discarded.
  • Unfortunately, it is not always possible to determine the cause of problematic cuts.
    • In order to help mitigate some of the stress of mistake cuts, we will keep some extra typical use materials (basswood, chipboard, etc.) on hand. Should you be using a material that is not typical and an erroneous cut occurs, you will be credited in the form of laser cutting time.
  • Occasionally, mistakes happen while using the laser cutters please be patient.


Use of the laser cutters is billed at $3.00 per 15 minutes. Upon completion of your cuts, a charge will be placed to your account in our billing database. Once a month, this charge will be billed directly to your student billing account for you to pay.


If you have any questions regarding the Laser Lab, please feel free to contact us at arch-lasercutting@illinois.edu.

Advanced Fabrication

Drop off of material only available during open hours listed above. Materials can be dropped off when an appointment has been scheduled by emailing arch-fabrication@illinois.edu.


  • Onsrud 98C18 8’x5′ dual bed CNC router (see details below)
  • Fanuc 2000iA/165R industrial robot w/milling head
  • Wazer desktop water jet 12”x18” bed
  • Crossfire CNC plasma cutter 33”x48” bed
  • Formech 1250 vacuum forming machine w/ 1′, 2′ & 4′ window sizes
  • Lotos handheld plasma cutter
  • Hobart Handler 140 welder
  • Nova DVR Drill press
  • Mag drill
  • Metal cutting bandsaw
  • Cut off saw (metal)
  • various metal working implements

Onsrud CNC Router

Onsrud CNC router

The Onsrud CNC router located in the DigiFab Shop is available for student, staff, and faculty jobs. The following are requirements for CNC cuts:

  • CNC fees are $30/hr for students, staff, and faculty jobs. CNC fees are $75/hr for personal, non-university, and public jobs.
  • All appointments must be made 48 hours in advance.
  • All cuts are performed on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • A place in the cut queue is reserved once file is approved and material is on site; all materials must be submitted with a completed CNC milling request form (download).
  • Consult staff on best way to prep ALL materials that will be used on the fabrication equipment and follow those instructions. Poorly prepared materials that fail are not the responsibility of staff and no refunds will be given if item failure is due to poor preparation.
  • All submitted files must be made and submitted in Rhino, no exceptions.

We will work to complete your CNC cut in a timely manner. Most cuts completed between 3-5 business days from when file and material are approved. Please be patient as your job is processed and completed.

Non-CNC Fabrication Shop machinery

Requests for training and use of equipment must be made by emailing arch-fabrication@illinois.edu and making an appointment. Tool usage is done on a first come first serve basis as long as it does not interfere with ongoing projects, classes, and/or events. Tools can only be used when staff are available and can be present, for safety reasons.

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