CAD File Prep and other Machine Information

Material Saving

Laser cutters 1 and 2 (Universal Lasers)

B.15 Laser Cutting Guide

We do not take bookings for laser cutting over the phone or via email. Staff must check your file in person to advise on any changes and the time it will take before a slot will be allocated on the day you’re in the workshop.

Please study the B.15 Laser cutting Guide to better understand how to format your files. You can find the guide here.

We work using AutoCAD and prefer drawings to be correctly scaled to your model working scale and saved as .DWG or .DXF format.

Maximum cutting extents are 800mmx450mm. Always check material stocks with us before planning your drawings.

Scale factors for CAD software

1:1 – No Change
1:2 – 0.5
1:5 – 0.20
1:10  – 0.1
1:20 – 0.05
1:25 – 0.04
1:50 – 0.02

1:75 – 0.013333

1:100 – 0.01
1:125 – 0.008
1:200 – 0.005
1:250 – 0.004
1:500 – 0.002
1:1000 – 0.001
1:1250 – 0.0008
1:2000 – 0.0005
1:2500 – 0.0004

Applications for Laser 1 & 2

Deep engraving – Non-contact engraving & cutting – Drilling – Precision scribing – Mask production – Prototyping – Sign making – Architectural model making – Component marking – Film/overlay cutting – Textile cutting – Gasket cutting – production – Rubber stamps & seals – Membrane switches -plastics up to-12mm and MDF/Plywood cutting up to 6mm.

CorelDraw files and illustrator file formats can also be used.

Bed Size 800mm x 450mm

Materials that are not permitted or cannot be cut using the laser cutter at B.15

Packing cardboard (usually brown with internal corrugation – Fire risk

Metal – Engraving on the surface only.

Foam core board – Fire risk


Cricut Plotter Cutter

The Circuit can be used to create flat, cut shapes primarily from paper and vinyl. This machine is particularly useful for net shapes that can then be folded along score lines and assembled without scorching that can occur when laser cutting.

How to Prepare your Drawing File

Preparation instructions to follow. Please speak to a member of staff for information if you wish to use this machine in the meantime.


3D Printers

Our 3D Printers

  1. Stratasys F370 FDM Printer (Multiple single colour and Material options). Build Area:  355mm x 254mm x 355mm High
  2. Ultimaker S7 (Primarily PLA only) Build Area: 330mm x 240mm x 300mm
  3. 3DSystems Projet 360 Powder Printer. Build Area: 203mm x 254mm x 203mm High
  4. Stratasys Objet 30Pro Resin Printer. Build Area  200mm x 300mm x 150mm High

Cost is calculated using completed 3D Model File in the workshop. There are no ‘overhead’ costs to any type of 3D printing at B.15. Your jobs are charged at cost of the materials alone at the price they are sold to us by the manufacturer.

We will thoroughly check your proposals before approving the use of any of the machines so please allow time for this by getting in touch with us at the earliest convenience.

The machines work preferably .STL file format.

To save the file as an.STL from your chosen modelling software you must export it and if given the option save as Binary.

Your model must be a solid object not a collection of surfaces.

After you scale the model we recommend as a general rule that you check that objects component parts are not smaller than 1.5mm thick, anything smaller will be fragile and potentially not print properly.

Modelling Software

We recommend using Rhinoceros 3D (Rhino) or Autodesk 3D Studio Max. Sketchup is a good starter programme for visualisations but can often throw up odd problems when being translated for 3D printing so we advise trying to pick up the more advanced programmes such as Rhino and 3DSmax once you feel confident with your modelling.

Checking your files

Once you have discussed your model with staff and completed digital modelling we can further assess and repair your files using Magics Software in the workshop.


ISEL M40 CNC Router

Operation time can vary depending on the complexity and type of CAD file used. Please consult us with your ideas before going too far into the process of modelling for this method of manufacture.

There is no time charge for using our CNC. Material is charged based on type and quantity. Speak to a member of staff for your particular project requirements.

Other Equipment

Vac forming machine

Bed size of 400mm x 210mm

Recent Posts

Announcing B.15 Modelmaking Awards 2024 – Celebrating 10 Years!

2024 marks the tenth year of the B.15 Modelmaking Awards which we’re very happy to announce will be sponsored by two architectural practices with which we continue to share a common appreciation of the use of modelmaking in architectural education and practice. Stanton Williams who worked with us last year will be joined by HENN who have collaborated on past award sponsorships and through promoting modelmaking in practice with us.

The criteria for this years awards will remain unchanged and we at B.15 and our collaborators encourage anybody who has used modelmaking in their work to submit to the scheme. We would like to stress that projects are judged for their strengths as creative tools and creativity just as much as in their finish and materials choices. To put this another way, all physical models are valuable and can be considered for the awards schemes. If you have made models in your project work, take a look at the submission criteria and please submit your work to have it published and gain extra exposure to your fellow students and practicing architects and prospective employers.

A decade of recognising the use of modelmaking at

Manchester School of Architecture

Over the past ten years we have had hundreds of project submissions from all year groups and courses. It’s been our pleasure to provide a platform celebrating the culture of modelmaking at MSA and we hope to continue to do so.

The body of work over these years provides a fantastic source of inspiration that we can continue to learn from.

The past submission documents can be found here

Who can submit?

If you’re a student at MSA that has made physical models then you are eligible to submit. Any study programme, Any year group, Any projects.

What is the criteria?

We’ll explain this in more detail in a follow up post but put simply, If you’re an MSA student on any programme who has made any physical model(s) of any kind then you can and should submit. Keep a look out for the full criteria and submissions opening after the Easter break. In the meantime keep making – any models count as we’re looking at overall use of modelmaking not necessarily just one model!

When do you need to submit?

Submission instructions will be posted here and on moodle following the Easter break so look out for an update of how to submit your work during April. From the point of announcement you will have until the end of Monday June 10th to submit your projects.

How are the awards judged? 

The submissions will be sent as a combined document to the joint sponsors who will select a shortlist to be viewed in person at the end of year show. The chosen projects will be marked against the submission criteria by representatives of B.15, Stanton Williams and HENN.

When will we know the outcome?

The outcome of the judging process will be announced at the End of Year show awards presentation on the evening of Friday June 14th.

The submissions instructions will be posted in April. In the meantime if you have any questions about the scheme please get in touch via

On behalf of the B.15 Staff and our collaborators at HENN and Stanton Williams, get making and we look forward to seeing your modelmaking work!


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