Instructables

What would you like to do with a laser engraver?

I've recently seriously looked at what they are capable of.

I saw a few demo's at the Maker Faire and I got a little Aztec calendar at the Epilog booth. The detail these laser engravers are capable of is amazing.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/xaminmo/40206881/

This just instantly opens up a lot of doors in ideas and making things. Craft Technology Lab a group from Colorado had a verry cool booth. Besides the wearable e-textiles peices they had fun laser cut kinetic sculptures. A little twist of a crank and it spun a ball balanced on a seals nose and waved his tail. The sliceforms were another amazingly designed laser cut project. Imagine larger scale peices with cushions! Could make every furniture peice in your house!

Anyhow here is their page, they had a lot more laser cut kinetic sculptures at the faire though that arent on the webpage.

http://l3d.cs.colorado.edu/~ctg/Projects.html

Myself some of the things I'd make is ships and airplanes frames.

Remember this burning man peice?
http://www.home.earthlink.net/~traubleaux/link.jpg/temple.jpg

Wouldnt be too hard tracking down who has the files on their computer. With a litle manipulation you'd have a minerature model of it.

I'd have to make my familys home. Scale replicas of things you own is always fun.

With a laser cutter your xmas and b-day gift ideas are set for life.

defpotec7 years ago
Oh man, there are countless things I'd do with a laser machine! I used to work at a sign shop and used a laser engraving machine all day long. I would spend every free second experimenting with different materials, processes, settings and whatnot. Ever since I left that job, I have been trying to figure out how I can get one of my own or at least have unlimited access to, because they're the greatest thing ever! Here's what I would do if I had one at my disposal...

Cardboard: Raster photos into painted cardboard, cut out faces, letters, shapes for art, signs, baby decor. Cut out sections for small furniture/home decor projects...

Stahl's Cad-cut heat activated material: Continue to design t-shirt that I could heat press onto shirts, bags, hats, blankets...I would need a nice heat press though,an iron just doesn't cut it.

Wood: Skateboard decks, maps, wall art, picture frames, child animal toys, beautiful inlay signs using differnt types of wood, children's letter blocks, door stops, scrabble tiles with fresh typefaces, house address numbers...the lists goes on and on!

Acrylic: Light shades, Wall art, Candle stick holders, coasters, picture frames, napkin rings, night light covers, chilren's mobiles, small desk organizational products...

Packaging foam: Faces, logos, kids toys, baby wash sponges...

Plastic: Neck tie holders (to prevent your tie from flapping in the wind), name tags, signs, wall art, cutting boards, more picture frames, more inlay work...

I'd make stencils, magnetic things to rival those "Support our Troops" ribbons, masks for sandblasting (I'd need sandblasting equipment) and painting. Sandblasting stuff onto beverage bottles is way cool!, small candle shades out of wood, jack-o-lanterns, cutout cookies, sandwiches, pizza, jello, cheese, lunch meat, brownies, rolls, etc., cell phones, fabrics, leather bands, rubber, christmas snowflakes, custom cut post-it notes, business cards, journal covers, notepads, mousepads, small pillow cusions for the little baby, label my electrical control box for my house...and I could keep on going. The possibilities are endless with a laser machine in my hands!!!
Deftoc, i see you used to work in a sign shop. do you recall what settings you used to cut cardboard? I have some sample i would try to cut on my new machine, but i only see replies which indicates that card board is flameable. Knowing that, i still would like to try some cardboard on my 75W machine. hope you can help me. thanks
I guess youve done it by now, we have a 60W laser cutter at school and i just use the same settings as acrylic if it is relativley thin.
Laser engravers and laser cutting systems are already used in an increasing number of businesses. Take a look at the businesses using Trotec laser machines.
carpespasm7 years ago
i'd probably start out with some simple things cut out of the masses of plexiglass i have around, maybe some super-complex clear gear/ marble mover toys. Then I'd etch some sort of elaborate design into my powerbook, i'd probably use it to make cases and parts for some of my other projects, might use it to cut and put designs in a new plastic skirt cover for the side of one of my old motorcycles, as well as strap it to a shark's head. you have to have sharks with fricking laser cutters on their head.
lego villain?
FreakCitySF (author) 7 years ago
Is this laser cutter new or used I wonder. And I also wonder if it can be upgraded with a more powerful laser if the winner was into cuttin pcb's, destroying small orbital moons, or just conducting research...
http://s37.photobucket.com/albums/b182/Nikojin/Movies/th_RealGenius2.jpg
point it at the ground and dig to china =D
fill th proffessors house with unpopped popcorn, then aim it in through a window, onto a prism, into the popcorn
Inspiracy7 years ago
I'd build a REPRAP, or maybe a whole bunch of them, then I'd build Hektor.

Reprap

Hektor

but you need a reprap to get a reprap! :P
ll.137 years ago
I would get a laptop to engrave, engrave my knife, and anything else that I thought would need it. I would never ever dream of selling it.
hintss ll.133 years ago
except to get a bigger, better one
thepelton4 years ago
I got one. I found it is really good for cutting intricate pieces out of eighth inch (3mm) plywood. I have used it to make boxes, chips, toy dragons, several castles, and some other stuff. I have sold a number of pieces at RPG conventions, and have made identification badges for a club. I have pictures attached to my linkedin.com page. Donald Pelton.
fuzvulf7 years ago
Well, I suppose, first of all I would have to practice/play with it for about a month or so. Then I would if my practice had gotten me to the point where I was capable enough with it offer my services to the museum that has a lot of old tin plate photos of my family. I would etch reproductions of the photos that they only show on rare occasions into pieces of blond and aged wood so that the images could be seen year round, oh and not just the images of my family but a lot of the images detailing the history that is held in the museum. Another project I have in mind is etching likenesses of fallen heroes into plaques for families and town halls or court houses, so that they will be remembered for what they have given to our country. Not everyone may agree with what is going on but I being a disabled veteran have a special place in my heart for those who gave everything because they were told to do so whether they fully agreed with it or not. Simply because they served in the military that represents the country which they grew up in. On a more personal note I have been working on a 1/72nd scale set of models from the era in which I served. Not everything is available. From what has been said and from what I have seen, thin polystyrene could be cut to make custom models of things that do not currently exist. I dream of eventually combining them into a complete diorama of the shop in which I worked the longest with models of everything we worked on and models of all my friends cars sitting in the parking lot. The base has been closed down and the shop has been re-purposed but I like to do things with my hands. It holds off the eventual onset of complete disability of my body and keeps my mind sharp. Thats just a few Fuzzy
i would have to make some awesome gangster chopper bikes with custom rims then make some laser cut books
Honus7 years ago
Another idea I had today would be to make patterns for vacuum forming....so many cool things that it could be used for....

Using it to build something like the Fab@Home fabber would also be great as the chassis is primarily constructed of acrylic......you could probably even modify that chassis design to make a small NC mill that could create circuit boards and wax models.
http://www.fabathome.org
kiwisaft7 years ago
I would open an eye-laser-op-store and offer cheap laser operations for peoples eyes. ;) not really, but I think I would laser some cool stuff
I was a little disappointed when Instructables said they were changing the rules and not doing the essay. I had already hashed most of mine out. So I figured I would post it up anyways, I posted it first as an instructable but I was asked to move it to here.....

What can be done with the "Laser"

This is what I intend to do with the "Laser" if I win it. If I don't win, I hope that others will find inspiration in this and make some really neat stuff.

First and foremost, if I win, I promise to always make quotes with my fingers whenever saying the word "laser", like Dr. Evil does.

3d not so rapid prototyper

I would like to use this "laser" as a not so rapid prototype maker. By cutting each layer out of cardboard or plastic and then gluing them together using guide pins, I can make 3d shapes. I have experimented with this before and I made a Geneva stop gear just to see how it worked. check out what this is here. It took forever cutting the card used with an exacto knife and was hard to get really tight tolerances. I have not tried it since but would love to get back into it.

Mold making

I think it would be cool to make molds out of cardboard or plastic in the same way I suggested making 3d parts. Then you too could make a lame sculpture like this that looks like how HR Giger would make an alien ducky ;P

A really neat thing is that you would not need any glue. Just stack all the sheets on the alignment pins and clamp from top to bottom. Fill with your favorite material, plaster, wax, resin etc and then pull off the paper a couple sheets at a time. The positive could then be used to make further molds in sand or something else and you could end up with a metal part from paper. Awesome!

The resolution and finish will be determined by the thickness of the material, thinner paper equals finer finish but means more work.

The pages could be numbered by the "laser" as they print out so they don't get mixed up.

Fabric

I am curious what the "laser" would do to cotton or nylon? Probably it will just catch on fire but it would be cool to singe designs onto T shirts. It would also help my sewing if I could cut out fabric shapes or at least mark a pattern on them.

Anodized aluminum

Rock climbing carabiners could be done very fancy. I have made gifts in the past by writing peoples names on them in a nice font and engraving them (on non structural parts) I could do some awesome stuff with the engraver. Even the cheap little keychain biners could be given some gusto!

Food

You may already know that I enjoy working with food, imagine cherry tomatoes with faces on them, killer pancakes with portraits or cool pictures, hot dogs with paisleys tattooed all over them, the sky is the limit, everything in my fridge will fear the "laser"!

Jack-O-Lanterns

I know that you are saying- no way will a pumpkin fit inside this thing! What if you cut out a "face plate" in the front, you would probably have to shave it way down to thin it out. You could cut some amazing art out of it and then fit it back into the pumpkin (like you do with the top)

In Conclusion

Lets be honest- If I win this "laser", I am going to probably stick anything in it that will fit and that the instructions don't explicitly say not to stick in, like ABS, PVC or pets (all not allowed). This would be sooooo much fun to play around with.

This is obviously not a legally binding statement but I pledge to post photos of the "laser" work (if not full instructables) at least once a month (probably more for the first while) for a minimum of a year (again, probably more)

I have no intention of giving money to charity (that idea has been taken) but I love to help people and if you showed up at my door with some material and a flash card I would likely just let you use it. In fact, A friend and I who both have some cool tools but not enough space were bouncing around the idea of making what we called a "tool pool". We would rent a small industrial shop and pool our tools with a few other like minded individuals. I know you guys have some similar things in California but this idea is unheard of where I live. This would allow the "laser" to be used by lots of people.

I can only see one downside to winning and that is when my wife sees the electricity bill from the "laser" running almost constantly. I will probably have to learn how to make jewelry and somehow engrave it on the "laser" to appease her. (I know it won't engrave metal but I'll have to figure something out)

You can't imagine how bad I want this "laser". (maybe you can, just think about how bad you want it and multiply by ten) My friends are getting sick of hearing about it.

I think it's really amazing that there is a contest for something like this as a prize. Someone (hopefully me) is going to be very lucky in just over a month. Thanks
ghost.jpgexplode gear.jpgani2.gif
I really like the idea of using it to make molds- I hadn't thought of that. It would be really cool to make complex multiple part molds in acrylic that would work with the wax injector I have at work and then do lost wax castings. lebowski stated that it will cut cloth and leather but I'd be curious if it would cut woven carbon..... that would be awesome. If you do win and want to trade laser work for jewelry let me know- I'm a jeweler by day. I had the exact same thought about my electric bill! :P
Platcushring1.jpg
The detail on that ring is incredible! I have always been amazed by the art of jewelry making (does that have it's own word?) You have yourself a deal! All that's left is for me to win. :D
I too am impressed by small scale precision work like jewelry and watches. I'm astounded by the amount of detail in your work. I'd love to learn more about that kind of mirco work (currently I build slightly larger things, with a 460 ton crane)
Watchmaking is an amazing art- If you want to learn more about it I recommend reading George Daniels book Watchmaking. It's an amazing book that shows how to construct a watch start to finish.

I've actually met Paul Gerber- he's a world record holder in watch/clock manufacturing and his work is absolutely amazing. The store where I work is one of only two in the country that sells his watches. My boss just got back from a trip to Europe where he visited Paul's little shop and said it was just incredible how many steps/processes it takes to make one of his handmade watches. The really amazing part is that he has something like 30 t o 45 sets of custom tooling for each watch- all of which he himself constructed. At one point I was lucky enough to obtain a really nice Swiss Bergeon watchmaker's lathe but I ended up selling it last year because someone offered me a lot of money for it and I couldn't afford to turn them down. It was the smallest/coolest lathe I've ever seen.....

Paul's website is here:
http://www.gerber-uhren.ch/index.htm

The only drawback to the kind of work that I do is that it's really hard on your eyes- I've recently developed a Blepharal spasm in my right eye.....
Thanks! That particular ring is entirely hand fabricated/forged from Platinum sheet and wire- no castings were used in its construction. It has over 50 solder joints in it and all the engraving is done by hand. I think I had somewhere around 25 hours of labor in it start to finish. Being a jeweler is a great job- you wouldn't believe some of the things I've been asked to make. I once had to recreate a 1945 Cubs National Championship ring from photos. The guy's dad played shortstop and the ring was stolen from his house.... If I had a laser I could probably create some pretty amazing molds for jewlery castings that's for sure- I'm thinking about how I'd have to create sectional molds- Hmmmm.... Here's some more photos for you ( I really need to set up an online gallery.) If you have any jewlery questions just contact me- I don't want to get too far off topic here..... Now back to thinking about all the cool things that could be created with a laser cutter/engraver!
CubsRing.jpgSaturnring.jpgP8220003.jpgPlat57diamring4.jpgEmeraldEarrings.jpg
sorry, it lost the link to the geneva stop gear

http://www.flying-pig.co.uk/mechanisms/pages/geneva.html
Inspiracy7 years ago
Honestly, my first instinct would be to sell it. My 2nd instinct would be for the following projects. 1 - Make 3D Dinosaur and City puzzles out of balsa wood or cardboard. 2 - Engrave control panel pieces for all types of industrial uses. Off the top of my head, the Ambulance and Aeronautical industries would be good starting points for that. 3 - Make braille signs, if that's even possible with such a device. 4 - Etch measurement gradients on anodized aluminum control knobs. 5 - Etch paintball gun parts. Ya know, it might be the height of stupidity to sell something like this.
Or I could just open an engraving booth at my local flea market. Or I could make pop up books, that'd be totally cool. Or I could just open the thing up, remove the laser and affix it to a cnc router.
Spreegem7 years ago
Does anyone know if an altoid, or similar mint/gum containers could be engraved with this laser, or not?
CameronSS7 years ago
Vendigroth, I think there are parental waivers that can be signed if you are under 18. I hope so, at least. I would definitely charge people a dollar each to laser-etch their valuables, so I would get some revenue to pay for the electricity (it said 1000W peak, so it wouldn't be much, but still...) and like Brennn10 said, use it to laser-cut parts for aircraft models. I went to a local university open house for the aerospace engineering department, and they have a laser cutter. All their models had beautiful laser-cut wing-ribs. Does anyone know the limitations on what it could cut? Such as, could it slice an 1/8" steel or aluminum plate? Or glass?
it's only £3k... so it'll not have huge amounts of power As for the waivers, they're moot too it's all moot cos i live on the wrong side of that damn ocean
Can we say we're older when we aren't because I'm sure I look like a 21 year old... But for those guys who need a waiver where do they send it? and do forged waivers count?
I love how $3K is just thrown around :p If it's not that big of a deal for you -- can I have your $3K? After all, it's only 3K :D In any case -- it's not a huge amount of power compared to the cutting edge of laser cutting tech... But that doesn't mean such cool things can't (and were not done) when this amount of power was available... After all, for something like that calendar -- you're no doubt pulling out most of the power for some high powered laser :P
calendar? ok so maybe three thousand pounds IS a lot which is exactly the reason i'm not going to give it to you ha
LoL. Pounds. Not Dollars. MEH!!
Drain the ocean!
i like how you think!
I don't think it could cut 1/8 inch steel plate, I am reasonably sure you would need a stronger laser.
Honus7 years ago
My idea would be to start a laser service- with a twist. Let's say someone posts an instructable in the laser group that requires the use of the laser for their project. I would provide that at a given cost based on the complexity of the job- let's just say $40. From that $40, 20% would go into a Paypal/bank account to be held seperately for a charity. Now let's say that person wants duplicates for themselves to sell on eBay or wherever. I would do this at a reduced cost, say $30. This is because the setup work has already been done. Now 25% of the money goes into the charity account. Now let's say that someone reads the original instructable and wants to create the item for themselves. It would cost them $40 but now $5 goes back to the creator of the instructable and still 20% goes into the charity account. When the charity account reaches $500 everyone that has posted an instructable in the laser group votes on where the money goes- it can be a school, Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity, needy family, scholarship fund, etc. but it will have to be limited to a few choices during every voting session. The money is then donated in the name of Instructables.com -everyone that creates something here gets to see their projects create a direct impact on the world around them in the form of this charity donation. The original creator of the instructable also gets $5 every time their instructable is used to create a product that they designed! Well that's my idea- I know the rules concerning the contest have changed but I'm still going to do this anyway if I'm lucky enough to win. That's been my plan all along and I think it's something that benefits everyone and I'm sticking to it! :P
erfonz Honus7 years ago
Lets give it all to the "Send ERFONZ to college" fund...
The company calls it a 'laser engraver,' not laser cutter. There is a huge difference!!! Id be surprised if it could cut more than thin sheets of plastic . . .
See the owner of brightstar's post:

http://www.instructables.com/id/SXZPY8DF0H63N2Y/?comments=all&sort=#CCPZ3HSF0ZSTEFO

You make a good point here. The prize laser is a CO2 laser that is primarily designed to work with materials specifically designed for laser engraving or cutting. These machines are most commonly used in the trophy and engraving businesses as well as some fabrication businesses. Everyone should be aware that you just can't grab ANYTHING and stick it in the machine and blast away. Not only will some types of plastic produce dangerous fumes, some will produce fumes that will eat the coatings off the lens and mirrors (NOT covered by warranty!). These machines WILL work great when engraving anodized aluminum, acrylic plastic, engraving plastics as found at http://www.rowmark.com/laser/Laser_Engravable_Materials.asp. Additionally, the machines will cut paper, cardboard, cloth, balsa wood, 1/8" or maybe 1/4" plyood, acrylic plastic, leather etc. NOT any kind of metal. Plastics like ABS and PVC should not be cut as they will produce very bad gases. Naturally things like foamcore won't work since the paper surface will cut fine but the foam innards will melt. While people can obviously put just about any kind of material into a laser engraver/cutter materials that are not specifically designed for lasering can damage the machine and/or your health. If you have no experience with these kinds of machines, you might do well to get copies of trophy and engraving magazines such as Recognition Review, A
&E or Engraver's Journal and learn a bit about what laser engravers are designed to do before skydiving without a parachute. Please feel free to ask any quesitons about these machines.
It would be a great little business to sell name plates and things like that. I don't know if it's big enough, but you could cut drum heads too.
assasin7 years ago
"I want you to cry" James bond villan guy in some movie. (I can't remember the first part)
wikityler7 years ago
PCBs, en masse. But alas, I'm Canadian, so it's not gonna happen. Maybe I could pretend to be the super of an apartment building in Port Angeles, have it shipped there, and dive it across the border.
Limor (Lady Ada) and Eric both report that their lasers don't do PCBs at all well. It's not powerful enough to cut through the copper on its own, and there doesn't seem to be a convenient substance to use in laser-assisted photo-etching.
Labrat6367 years ago
I'd make custom parts (frames, sub-frames, connecting rods, actuator housings, etc.) to build robots from "scratch" using designs that depart from the conventional.
Brennn107 years ago
If I won, not likely though, I would maybe: 1)Make a Laser-Etching porgram for school 2)Make cool sculpture type things and sell them. 3)Sell it to the Tech-ED department of my school and get the money for it. 4)I'll have to think about this fourth one.
Vendigroth7 years ago
i'd do everything if i won that laser cutter, but i'm not going to be able to do anything, because i can't win. Actually, i had a plan planned out the moment i saw the contest, but its all moot now anyway