Study Guide

How to approach the checkoff

Be sure to read all the way to the bottom of the page!

This deals with safety, so you absolutely must study so that you'll be able to show us that you know how to set up and run the machines (with help of a pocket reference), and convince us that you won’t hurt yourself or the machines.  We pass people that:

  • Have prepared and can use the pocket reference to help them along with a small amount of help
  • Don’t blunder ahead when they don’t know something, but understand it’s OK to ask questions
  • Can do most of the exercise by themselves, though we expect you might ask a question here or there
  • Can answer all the safety questions and demonstrate safe practice

We’ve provided this guide to give you an idea of what a successful checkoff entails, and to help you study for the test without taking too much of your time.

Pass rate

This test is pass or fail.  So far, the pass rate is above 70%.  Your chances improve markedly if you study with this guide and use the pocket reference guides.

Study guides and resources

Use these resources to help you study.  You can use the pocket reference guide (on your phone or printouts in the facility) to help you during the check off so make sure you understand it and are familiar with it.  Be sure to keep reading after this table! There's a bunch of text below it that describes the checkoff in more detail!


Pocket reference guides

We require you review these

Refresher videos

We require that you watch these

Universal laser cutter



Epilog laser cutter



Zortrax 3D printer



Up Mini 3D printer



Ultimaker 2+ 3D printer



Stratasys 3D printer



When you arrive

Introduce yourself, get your safety glasses and open up the pocket reference. We’ll review the test, any questions you’ll have and then get going.  We’ll ask you about the “Maker do’s and dont’s” video.

Laser cutter checkoffs

For each laser, we’ll give you a file like the one pictured below. You will :

  • Modify the file to cut and etch correctly
  • Load an acrylic sheet into the laser cutter
  • Focus the laser
  • In software, position the part in the correct spot for cutting
  • Get everything to the point where you could cut the part, but don’t cut it.

To do that, you’ll need to know how to:

  • Explain why its important to ask questions when you get stuck (safety, not breaking machines, etc...)
  • Set the Document Color Mode, Line Colors, and Line Widths in the drawing software.
  • Turn on and focus the laser safely.
  • Talk about safety for you and safety for the machine
    • Why you can't leave the laser when its running
    • Why the ventilation/exhaust is important
    • Why compressor is important
    • Why it matters which materials you cut
    • What to do in case of a fire
  • Print the drawing to the laser and set the right settings for the material you’re cutting.
  • Verify the part will be cut in the right spot on your workpiece/sheet of stock.
  • Turn on the air compressor (to keep gases away from the lens and optics, it is important to understand this)
  • Turn on the exhaust (to remove harmful gases produced during the cutting process, it is important to understand this)

If you’ve set it up properly, it would cut correctly, so we won’t actually need to cut/engrave.  We’ll skip forward and have you show us how to clean up and shut down the laser cutter.  We’ll ask you a few questions about safety/material issues, sounds you should hear (smooth running motors, etc…) and should not hear (bangs, crunches, pops, anything out of the ordinary), while the laser is running and similar questions.  Then we’ll move you on to the next machine.

3D printer check offs

We’ll have you set up prints on all for printers, and show us how to run each printer, but you won’t be printing.

In the hardware portion, we want to see that you understand what you need to do so that you, or the machine, don’t get hurt.  We’ll talk about what you should/should not hear while the machine is running.  We’ll want to know how to safely (for you and machine) remove parts from the build tray or remove the build tray from the printer if necessary.  You should be able to run the knobs on the printers to select/print files and cancel jobs. You should be able to explain hazzards to watch out for so that you don't get hurt or the machine doesn't get hurt.  Naturally you need to know how to clean up.

In the software portion, we want to see that you know how to start the software associated with each printer, how to load a file, and how to prepare it for printing.  You should be able to discuss the main settings (infill, quality, support angle) and tell us why they matter.  You should be able to move, rotate and copy parts in the software if applicable.  You should be able to transfer files to the printers and know how this is done (e.g. USB, SD card, network, etc.).