RAPLAB (Rapid Prototyping Laboratory)

comment 0

RAPLAB is a service at ETH Zürich that offers workshops and machines for the students to use. They operate the student wood workshop, digital workshop, plastering workshop and the photo lab.


RAPLAB Website: https://www.raplab.arch.ethz.ch/

Always check their opening hours: https://www.raplab.arch.ethz.ch/oeffnungszeiten/

Following people are responsible for managing the RAPLAB (email available through ETH address book or on their website):


Alessandro Tellini – the boss

Daniel Bachmann – digital workshop

Etienne Chevalley – wood workshop

Katrin Derleth – plastering workshop


Bear in mind that while working in RAPLAB you have to comply with the rules: https://www.raplab.arch.ethz.ch/pdf/Werkstattordnung.pdf

In case of breach of these rules, you CAN BE DENIED ACCESS to the RAPLAB by their personal. Please be aware of this.


In case of an EMERGENCY, please contact the RAPLAB personal immediately. If not reachable, call the internal 888 number on the phones that are in the hallway.

Stay safe, call 888 for EMERGENCY




Quick Start Guide for lasering machine: https://www.raplab.arch.ethz.ch/pdf/LASER_QUICKSTART.pdf

Use of laser machines is charged by minute of use: 20 CHF / hour

Top up your prepaid account by loging in and then navigating to -> meine Services -> Prepay: https://www.password.ethz.ch/


PDF Export

– Create a 900mm x 600mm document

– Set linewidth for all lines to hairline (0.03mm or 0.0mm)

– Export your design as PDF


Note: Export a separate file for cutting and engraving.


PDF Lasercutting

– Open your PDF file

– Ctrl-P: Select Epilog Engraver as printer

– Press “Eigenschaften“ and adjust the following Settings: SPEED/POWER/FREQUENCY(500Hz!)

– Press OK and PRINT On the Laser

– Insert your material and press FOCUS and START

– Press START once again to start the job



– Have your files ready before you come to the RAPLAB. Prepare separate files for cutting and engraving. Login to your account (this switches the laser machine on) after you set up everything on the computer to minimize the cost to your prepay account.


– You can log in to multiple machines at once. The machine will log you out automatically after one hour, after which you have to log in again. At this point you should let other people use the machine if there is a queue of people waiting.


– When setting up the laser settings for cutting, try to go high with power (80% is maximum) then reduce the speed to a point where the lasers cuts comfortably through the material. For engraving, do the opposite, set the speed to 100% and then start with the lowest power. You can then increase the power to adjust the engraving strength, but you don’t want to go through the material.


– Lasers vary in strength (look at the wattage label on the machine itself) and the laser strength varies across the laser surface. Usually it’s a bit weaker on the edges and stronger in the middle. Have this in mind when you do your test cuts. You can always go more times over the same cut if the laser didn’t go through, but this doubles the time you’re using the machine so it’s not preferred.


– Use 500 Hz for the laser frequency for all materials. For acrylic, set the frequency to 2500 Hz, otherwise the material will fuse back as soon as it’s cut. Don’t use this setting for any other material as it will start to burn with open flame!! So much for the laser frequency.


– When you do mechanical components, bear in mind that the cut through the thick material is not completely vertical but rather conical, with inclined edges. This is because the beam has to be focused at the lens just before it’s projected on the material and is of a conical shape. You can avoid this problem by stacking multiple thin elements together after they are cut, you just have to align the layers well.


Leave a Reply