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Barnard Design Center: Resource Guide

Here, you'll find a list of suggested retailers, materials, software, and more that work with tools in the Design Center.

Materials

Reminder:

You're only permitted to cut the following materials on our laser cutter:

  • Paper
  • Chipboard
  • Cardboard
  • Acrylic (or plexiglass)
  • Fabric
  • Raw wood

Most of these are things you can find at any retailer, but we'll detail where you can buy some of the more specialized materials below.

Paper, Chipboard, & Cardboard

Fabrics

We've detailed a range of fabric retailers elsewhere in this guide, so you can check those stores for materials to laser cut.

However, the most important thing to remember is to purchase natural fibers, which are generally difficult to ignite and may sometimes even self-extinguish. This includes:

  • Wool (burns slowly)
  • Cotton (burns quickly)
  • Silk (burns slowly)
  • Linen (burns quickly)

You can also buy flame retardant fabrics that have been chemically treated to make them less prone to catching fire; Mood Fabrics has an example selection here.

Generally speaking, you should also stay away from materials that have synthetic fibers or are natural/synthetic fiber blends including glass fibers, modacrylic, and certain polyesters. The problem with these is that they melt, which can lead to severe burns if they come into contact with your skin.

Whether your fabric burns, and how it burns, will depend on so many factors--the power and speed you've set on the laser cutter, how much fabric you're cutting at a time, the weight and weave of the fabric, surface texture of the fabric, etc. Your best bet would be to work with a Design Center staff member when considering which fabric to purchase.

More information on this topic can be found here.

Acrylic

Reminder: plastic is the most challenging material to cut on the laser cutter when it's manufactured with harmful chemicals. For that reason, you should make completely sure that you know what's in the plastic you're ordering--which is why we only allow acrylic to be cut on our laser cutter.

If you do order plastic you're unsure about, try doing the bend test. If you bend the plastic and it doesn't snap (might bend and feel putty-ish before it snaps), then you can bet it's got something in it that won't work with our laser cutter. But if you can bend it and it snaps pretty quickly, you're usually in the clear.

Wood

Wood used on our laser cutter should be completely raw, unfinished, unpolished, no glues or stains--almost like it's fresh off the tree. And more importantly: fake wood should not be used (e.g. wood artboard, etc.). Here are our favorite retailers for buying wood in New York: