Lasersaur, an open-source laser cutter

Lasersaur, an open-source laser cutter
lasersaur.png

Following in the footsteps of Makerbeam, an open-source building set which got its funding on Kickstarter, and loom designers OSLoom, which got funded the same way, we have Lasersaur, a project to make an affordable laser cutter and then release the specs so that anyone can build one or improve on the design.

Here’s the thing. Laser cutters are traditionally expensive ($30,000 to as much as you can spend) and there are a lot of artist, hackers, architects, designers, DIYers who could do great things with them- if they could afford one, or even get regular access to one. Pretty much anybody who is a maker could benefit from a laser cutter. Unfortunately, turnkey systems are expensive, and there isn’t really a clear and simple way to build one. We can change this: with roughly six month of R&D time we can develop a laser cutter which anyone can build, use, and maintain. Most importantly this system will be open source which means anyone can improve and modify the design.

Everyone should be able to have a laser cutter! Our goal is to design a 100W machine which is capable of cutting 1/2″ (12.5mm) acrylic, wood, multiple layers of fabric or thin sheet metal.

Think the project is worth supporting? Make a pledge by July 8th.

28 thoughts on “Lasersaur, an open-source laser cutter

  1. bhtooefr says:

    First, Epilog has some cheaper stuff that’s useful, and cheaper than $30k.

    And then, the Chinese can already get you a 60 W laser cutter for $3k that can do everything an $8k Epilog can, and then some.

    Looks like their price target is <$5k for 100 W, <$3k for 25 W. Not sure they can compete with the Chinese... they can definitely compete with Epilog, though. Then again, I'm guessing they're going to use a Chinese laser to do it.

  2. clide says:

    I’ve been following the work of bdring who has done quite a nice job of building a laser cutter himself and documenting the process. He is also providing all the information needed to replicate it yourself, and I think he is planning on putting a kit together.

    http://www.buildlog.net/cnc_laser/index.php

    1. vrandy.myopenid.com says:

      It seems like the point here is not just to do it once, but to start a business selling kits.

      If they can pull it off it would be a perfect counterpart to the Makerbot.

  3. bdring says:

    The buildlog laser is designed to be a ‘self replicating’ laser. Everything but a few parts are off the self or made with simple tools. The rest can be made with another laser. To start off the first generation, kits are available at

    http://www.buildlog.net

  4. Garrett says:

    For homebuilt part cutting rigs, a traditional CNC router table will be easier to build, cheaper, more versatile, and easier to operate in restricted environments.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love laser cutters, have used them a lot. But the only true advantages are sharp inside corners, ultra high detail, polished edges in plastic, and ease of cutting very thin materials like paper (which doesn’t require 100W).

    Laser cutter cut edges are not actually square, which comes as a surprise to most people. The laser kerf is V-shaped. CNC edges are often much closer to square.

    Lasers can etch pockets into material but it’s very time consuming and difficult to do accurately. CNC routers can do true 3D sculpting.

    CNC routers produce a lot of chips to clean up, but overall that’s much easier to handle than the nasty fumes you have to pipe away from a laser cutter, and possibly filter before you release it into the neighborhood.

    Ideally you’d have both, since each can do things the other cannot. But the CNC router is going to cost you way less than a laser, and all the plans, tools, materials, and software are established and available now.

    1. bdring says:

      Yes,

      I agree with most of what Garrett says. I have both and the CNC router is used more. If I had to get rid of one it would be the laser.

      With that said, the laser can do a few things the router can’t. The laser imparts no mechanical stress to the part, so really detailed work can be done on fragile material. Some materials cannot route like paper, cardboard, and fabric. I recently laser cut some items out of sandpaper. A router also cannot make a tight corners. You have a spinning tool with a diameter that cannot get into corners Also a router cannot engrave like a laser can.

  5. Shadyman says:

    So wait, the $512 level gets you an Alpha laser cutter kit? Awfully tempting.

    1. vrandy.myopenid.com says:

      It is.

      But notice that there’s also risk involved. We do not know for sure that this team is capable of successfully developing such a kit.

      These people _might_ become the next Makerbot, but I’d be more comfortable with it if they had a prototype.

    2. bdring says:

      What does the kit consist of?

      I am sure there is no tube, power supply or laser controller.

      1. vrandy.myopenid.com says:

        Why not … click the link and read for yourself?

        They claim it will have “everything” you need to build it, including “motors, frame, and laser”.

        1. Misguided says:

          From what I read,
          “…kit with all the parts to make a laser cutter from motors, frame, and laser!”

          It sounds like the kit contains parts to make a laser cutter FROM motors, frame and laser.

          Sounds to me like you’d have to provide those yourself…
          But if they said something like “including motors, frame, and laser”, it’d be a different story.

          That or I’m reading too much into this…

          1. vrandy.myopenid.com says:

            Ah. Re-reading it I see that you could be right.

            I was reading as a list of included parts (“From soup to nuts.”) but you’re right, it could be a list of REQUIRED parts.

            Given the price points that makes much more sense.

            But I wonder what it does include then? Beyond maybe the enclosure?

  6. oskay says:

    The amazing thing about desktop laser cutters isn’t that they work, or even that they can be cheap. It’s that they’re *safe.*

    Powerful lasers are FREAKING DANGEROUS, and these people clearly don’t have safety as any one of their top priorities, let alone number one where it belongs.

    It’s one thing to make a one-off DIY laser cutter. As the builder, you know (or should know) exactly the risks that you’re exposing yourself to. But a kit is a different; people using this may not be laser experts, and might not realize exactly how easy it is to set your apartment on fire, cause permanent blindness, and create all kinds of other hazards.

    There are any number of groups who could produce open source laser kits– and I have a very, very bad feeling about these guys. If they had their brains in the right place, they’d be emphasizing design for safety as their number one priority, not how cheap it is or what it can cut. If they succeed, a lot of people are going to get hurt.

  7. bob dobb says:

    Can anyone tell me what it actually costs for the parts in total? On the lasersaur website I think it says 7000 usdollars, is that right? If so, this isnt so much a big leap.
    Im having a terrible time finding out what the actual end cost is in money for the parts. One guy says it took him 50 hours to build and he was mechanically inclined.

Comments are closed.

Tagged

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal nerdage.net

View more articles by John Baichtal
FEEDBACK