The advent of inexpensive CO<sub>2</sub> laser systems has led to a wide range of demonstrations of microfabricated lab on chip systems built of acrylic. However, there has been little application of these systems to building microfluidics for DNA analysis. In this work we explore the use of CO<sub>2</sub> laser systems for building microfluidics for DNA analysis and relate the artifacts of the fabrication technology to the performance of the system. We show that surface roughness that leads to significant constrictions in the separation channel provides an upper limit of the size of DNA that can be analysed. Below that upper limit, the resolution of the chip is strongly affected by the degree to which the separation channel is exposed to redeposited by-products of the ablation process. We show that by controlling these effects we are reliably able to discern two types of PCR product as a test representative of a real application. By being able to do this is in microfluidic devices the size of a postage stamp we have shown that we can now use CO<sub>2</sub> laser systems for the development of extremely inexpensive diagnostic systems using a rapid prototyping approach.