VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Use the laser cutter/engraver

VCU Libraries is excited to announce the availability of a laser cutter/engraver in the Innovative Media department on the lower level of Cabell Library. Explore the guidelines and other materials to help you use them effectively.

Innovative Media staff

Eric Johnson's picture
Eric Johnson
Cabell Library, Lower Level Room 078

901 Park Ave., Box 842033
Richmond, VA 23284-2033

(804) 828-2802
Website / Blog Page

Innovative Media staff

Ken Hopson's picture
Ken Hopson
James Branch Cabell Library
901 Park Ave
Richmond, VA 23284
Website / Blog Page



VCU Libraries’ laser cutter/engraver is available for use by all current Virginia Commonwealth University faculty, students, and staff.

Operation and Safety Training

Participation in an Innovative Media laser cutter/engraver training session offered by the Innovative Media department is required before using the 3D printer independently. Training consists of two steps:

Step 1:

View the 20-minute video "Zing for Patrons" which will orient you to our machine.

Step 2: 

Attend an Epilog Laser Cutter/Engraver orientation session with an Innovative Media staffer in The Workshop in the lower level of Cabell Library (room 078).

Scheduling and Starting Cutting/Engraving Jobs

After you have met with us for training and feel confident enough to use the laser cutter/engraver independently, we will add you to an authorized user list. As an authorized user, you may sign up for time to use the laser cutter/engraver independently.  Please do not hesitate to ask questions and seek further assistance from IM staff at any time. The laser cutter/engraver manual will remain by the station. 

Only authorized users may schedule time on the machine themselves. Once you are an authorized user (after training!), you can sign up for time on an available printer by reserving the Zing 24 laser cutter/engraver station on our workstation and room reservations page.  Be sure to sign it out for the full length of time it will take to work on your project; we suggest adding a little bit of cushion in case of any snags. 

We encourage you to consult with an Innovative Media staff member for assistance with your projects, especially with regard to the safety of the material you wish to cut/engrave. The purpose of the Step 2 meeting above is to give you an opportunity to review procedures and materials, ask questions, set up your project, and become comfortable operating the laser cutter/engraver. Keep in mind that the use of unauthorized materials is a safety hazard and can result in your privileges being revoked. We will go over authorized material with you during the training session; inquire if you want to try a different material--we're happy to work with you on that.

The laser cutter/engraver can only be used during open hours in The Workshop. See for current department hours. Please plan ahead and book sufficient time on the machine.

Responsibilities of Authorized Users

Authorized users are to follow all operating and safety training and adhere to the information found below about "What Can and Cannot Be Cut/Engraved." As thoughtful members of the growing maker community, our users are expected to be considerate of others and maintain a safe and clean working environment around the laser cutter/engraver workstation.


At this time, laser cutting/engraving and basic materials for learning the system are being supported entirely by VCU Libraries and is free to you for the 2015-2016 school year. Enjoy!  We just ask that you please help spread the word.

What Can and Cannot Be Cut/Engraved

Users may cut/engrave objects for research, education, or personal use so long as the objects do not violate VCU campus policies (including prohibition on weapons) and comply with U.S. copyright, patent, and other intellectual policy regulations, which do include specific exceptions for fair use. The machine is intended for educational and experimentation purposes. It may not be used to produce an item or items for sale, or for any other commercial purpose or private financial gain. Nor may be it be used for production-level cutting/engraving (e.g. many copies of the same thing) without permission. VCU Libraries staff reserves the right to refuse any usage request.  Reminder: the use of unauthorized materials is a safety hazard and can result in your privileges being revoked.