New to DMS, what class is req'd for laser cutting, and time session limits?

Hello! I’m thinking to get a DMS membership specifically to laser cut fabrics for art. Can you please tell me as of January 2024, what class is required to use laser cutters? (I have a lot of previous experience) When is the next one and how do I sign up? Super important, what is the limit on a laser cutting session? It’s a long commute so I want to know how many pieces I can cut per trip. I am looking to use the the Thunder Laser Nova 63 and 35 for large scale fabric cuts. I can come in at odd hours when it’s not busy. Thank you so much!

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The required classes are both fairly simple online classes at You have to pass with 100% on the quiz, but that’s not as hard as it may sound. You’ll have access to learn once you sign up.


Ive been working on fabric cutting with the laser, let me know if you need help. I’ll be up at DMS on Thursday or we can arrange a time.

What is the content of your fabric? So.e materials should not be cut on the laser.

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The 65 is out of commission for at least another month, it’s getting a total rebuild.

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We charge $1 per 5min of laser firing time.
I believe the 35’s are least busy during the workday and late night.

In general, DMS isn’t for commercial use. If this is for one big project, r prototyping- that’s ok, but if you’re precutting for your clothing business and it’s ongoing, that’s commercial use, and we aren’t set up to be a businesses’ primary means of production.


It seems like at one time your time limit was 1 hour. We don’t seem to be that busy of late. As I understand it, you’d get an hour, and then whenever the next person showed up, you should finish the current job and take a breather.

There are two factors; the posted rules and peer pressure associated with being excellent to each other.

You probably noticed @AmeliaG 's comment about avoiding an ongoing commercial use. That’s not a hypothetical example. Former members have tried to run Etsy business using DMS resources during the peak of holiday gift making, and it has made the membership leery. Being excellent to the other members and not being an equipment hog is just as important as following the posted rules. You have voluntarily suggested working off hours and that would go a long way toward solving that.

I have cut a fair amount of fabric and in my experience it cuts very quickly. You’re going to be doing vector cuts which are quite fast on fabric, so if you have a long session planned with multiple pieces of fabric you might consider letting other people “work in” between your sheets. You’re not obligated to, but it’s another way to be excellent.

The laser committee rules that are posted are as follows for time limits:

Obey the queue and session limit (3 hours total if someone else is waiting)

Note that the three hours starts when you begin your session - not when someone else shows up in the queue. So if you’ve been using it for 2:50 and then someone shows up, you only have ten minutes remaining in your session.

  • Workstation: area including laser and PC.
  • Session: when member occupies a workstation, whether laser is operating or not and whether user is logged into computer or not.
  • Run-time: laser operating time as measured by the counter in the laser’s control panel. A subset of session time.
  • Work piece: single lasered item that can be lifted out of the laser without ruining it. Note: your job may consist of multiple work pieces.
  • Off-peak hours: 10p-10a CST
  • Peak hours: 10a-10p CST
Queue Procedure
  1. Queue Sign-In: Write your name, phone number and arrival time on it. Indicate if you are waiting for any laser in particular. Write clearly or you may lose your turn.

  2. Tell laser operators that you are waiting in the queue. They may not realize that a queue has formed.

  3. Answer your phone or text message promptly, or else you may lose your turn.

  4. Erase your name and information from the queue sign-in board when your turn begins.

Session Procedure
  1. Session Limit:

Operator vacates the workstation under these conditions:

  • After 3-hours
  • AND when a work piece can be removed from the laser bed without ruining it
  • AND if people are waiting in the queue for the laser (even if the queue only formed 10 minutes ago)

If no one is waiting for the laser, operator may continue to use the workstation until a queue for the laser forms. At that point, the operator will finish the work piece in progress, then vacate the workstation.

  1. Get another turn: Go to the end of the queue.

And some additional points from the rules:

Plan Your Work FAQs

How do I estimate my run-time?

Software for the Thunders and Fusion have a simulator feature. It underestimates the runtime significantly, so beware. The laser has a simulator feature that is more accurate.

What if my single work piece takes longer than the 3-hour session time limit?
You get to keep using the laser until your work piece is done because moving it from the bed would ruin it. That said, be considerate by performing the job during off-peak hours. See the famous Middle Earth Map that took 7 hours at Dallas Makerspace Show and Tell - November 2016 - #62 by patrickpleez1

May I start lasering a new work piece near the end of my session time knowing that it will run over the remaining time?

What if I have several work pieces that will take longer than 3 hours total? For example, multiple coasters from a sheet of cork.

Do not send a laser job of multiple work pieces that is longer than the remaining session time. Plan the order of cuts & rasters so you can finish at least one work piece before the session is up. You may go to the end of the queue or return another day. Consider using the lasers during off-peak hours to avoid being interrupted by a queue.

Am I obligated to let people “play though” if they say they have a shorter job?

No. That rule has been removed. You have use of the workstation until your session time is up. All members should plan for a wait. Using the lasers during off-peak hours is a way to avoid waits.

No designing. Tweaking OK.

Sessions are for importing your prints, not creating your designs. Tweaking a design is expected. Makerspace has other computers available for designing.

There has been some discussion about whether the rules should change, but right now these are the posted rules.

The reality is that if you come in during odd hours you’re likely to be able to cut for a very long time uninterrupted. No guarantees, of course, but your chances are good unless multiple machines are down.

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Added note to the above for whenever I get around to having the next commitee meeting:

  • the way the session limits/ time limits are need to be reviewed. 3 hour limit has caused some issues when we’ve been down to one laser due to maintenance/ etc.
  • it’s been discussed a little bit that we may have a slight gradient on cost, as a very rough example: after 2 hours of use in a day, raise to 2$/5min instead of 1$. If these numbers are planned correctly, they should not affect individual members that much but help cover costs of maintenance/replacement tubes/class and common materials/etc.

Both of these are up in the air, but if you have thoughts or opinions on them- feel free to come to the next meeting and/or send me a message with thoughts.

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Thank you!!

Hi Amelia I am trying different fabrics, I do not know what I’m going to use yet. I would love to know more about your experience. In the past I was laser cutting mostly cardboard. I also have experience CNC routing plywood, CNC plasma cutting sheet steel, and using an 8’ Frog hot wire foam cutter. So I have used other materials on larger scales. I don’t have a membership yet I am considering whether I can/should get one right now on my budget/schedule. Thank you!

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Thank you for letting me know.

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Hi Amelia thanks for the info on fees. I am making long ceiling hanging fabric pieces for an art show. I am not producing commercially.

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Thank you! I am making ceiling hung fabric pieces for an art show. I’m excited and want to make a lot, plus I need time to experiment with fabrics. Not a commercial production. I’m happy to come in in the odd hours. I understand be most excellent to each other, I used to be a Tech at the UNT FabLab and helped manage student sessions :slight_smile:


One more question for y’all, is anyone familiar with the Tyvok Spider M1 crawling laser cutter? I am considering investing in one. It’s pretty new (a Kickstarter project from last year) but I’m wondering if anyone here has seen or tried it. Thanks.

Message me if you want to come see the space, I know it’s a drive for you, so maybe bring some fabric samples and we can do some test cuts? Our lasers will run on vector images (such as svg or Illustrator) or a good, clean black and white raster image. I have availability during daytime and after work hours, not so good with 2am, lol.

I’d love to show you the other tools that might help. We have a pretty extensive fiber arts area and sewing room with both domestic and industrial machines. And 4x8ft cutting tables. There’s also dye sublimation printing, which is a polyester process. I e combined dye sub with laser cutting for a quilt I’m currently working on.

Ive got temp/speed starter settings for some fabric. Dealing with soot in the laser and fabric flapping is also an issue.

Also when doing precision work like quilt piecing or corsetry-always test cut a 10x10 square out of paper, and measure it to be sure the laser is actually cutting to scale. our lasers see a fair amount of use, and a belt once stretched, and caused a slight skew. The laser also has a slight kerf (material taken away by the laser cut path)- which needs to be accounted for.

Known, safe fabrics:
Uncoated/undyed, 100%:
Polyester (which has the bonus of not fraying)
Vegetable tan leather (the pink. Natural looking stuff)
Many pellon and wonder under stabilizers are laser safe, and the manufacturer will answer emails and verify which particular ones are safe.

Known unsafe fabrics:
PVC (emits chlorine gas)
Any dyed/colored leather

The dye/coating used in a fabric can easily render it unsafe, so while many dyed fabrics are safe, each will need to be checked


I’d love to see what you’re working on, too!

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Amelia i can see you teaching a class on lasering and fabrics…hint hint

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More than happy to teach it to individuals. It’s on the list of classes I’d like to make, but things like ‘how to read a pattern’ and basic sewing skills are in high demand.

As for my current project, here’s the inspo pic:

I laid it out in illustrator, arranged each of the pieces to be on-grain, used dye sub to print each color, and the laser to cut. I definitely learned a lot, and still have more learning to do!


Looks great! FWIW, for your foundation paper piecing you might consider newsprint paper. It goes through the copier just fine but it tears off more easily when you’re done.

DM me to let me know where your bin is and I’ll give you some for experimenting.

Nope, traditional piecing. the paper is for checking alignment before adding the next section.

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