2016-04-08

should I get a laser cutter?

Today the Kickstarter campaign for Mr. Beam II started.

Version I was a kit for 500-600eur.
That's the price of the very common Chinese laser cutter. They take a lot of reworking to make them safe and reliable and the kit takes assembly.
So it's okay and I considered and finally declined it.

The price point

Version II comes fully assembled for 1400eur on Kickstarter and +40% later.
That's a lot of money.

Why shell out so much when you can upgrade a 600eur one?

Why get a personal one when you can travel to the nearest FabLab for such a seldomly done thing? (Same thing with a lathe when I have a 4 axis mill. )

What to use it for?

Let's see...
I have a large and a portable CNC milling machine and a super reliable 3D printer.

Plywood constructions
Any (ugly) plywood T-Slot cases I can do on a mill just as well. More noise but no fumes and no 4mm depth limit.

Labels, front plates and stamps
Engraving I can do on mills as well and I'm not even limited to flat objects but can make use of the rotational axis as well.
Stamps are easier to on a laser but that's a very seldom use.
Front plates need  deep cuts in addition to labels.
Quite frankly I usually include the label, logo or QR code as an embossed part of the complex design itself instead of labeling things afterwards.

T-Shirts
Vinyl cutting I can do without heating and burning the material by mounting a knife in the CNC.

In addition to that I can do all kinds of complex, non flat shapes on the 3D printer.

Conclusion

I'll rather design a mount for the 4th milling axis with a vector knife in the spindle mount = vinyl and stamp vector cutting.
... and get a second 3D printer because the first one is running near 24/7 when I'm building another Robot Arm or other machine with lots of parts.
The large CNC mill was just as expensive then the - 40% Kickstarter laser and is much more versatile. But also louder and makes more of a mess.

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