PA LaserCutter

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Project Summary

Project Code
Project Contact
Tim Slagle (tim at slagle dot org)
Project Status
Not yet proposed
Project Description
The goal of this project is to buy and set up a laser cutter in the HacDC space. Funds from Project Awesome will add to exiting earmarked money and additional donations for the initial purchase of the machine, and will support its ongoing maintenance and repair.
Links To Other Project Pages
License or IP status
The laser cutter will be a machine in the space, available for use to everyone with the proper training. Objects will be created on it from design files that can have their own license terms.

Additional Info

We currently have $1500 earmarked for the laser cutter: $1000 from the church for Martin's intercom wiring, and $500 from a joint WPA/HacDC workshop on computing with Arduino and Processing. From $3000-$3400 will be needed to buy the entry-level laser and pay for accessories, so some additional fundraising will probably be needed to make the initial purchase. I think we can raise ~$1500 from additional member donations and $400 from Project Awesome over the coming months so it seems very doable.

Here is a LINK to the laser cutter I have been looking at from Full Spectrum Lasers. It has a 40W tube and a 9.5"x14.5" laserable work area. It is driven from a custom driver under MS Windows, which claims to support any software that can output to a printer.

If more than $3000 can be raised we may be able to get a more capable laser, such as this one, which has a larger 20"x12" cutting area. It sells for $1000 more than the entry model.

Other laser models and companies will be considered as funding permits. However I would like to buy something that will not require a lot of work to set up or rebuild, and I am not interested in making a laser cutter from scratch or plans - I want something that can be used for other projects ASAP and is not a project in itself!

Cutters at this level usually require some alignment and setup after they are shipped. I have a bunch of experience with optics and lasers (but not with CO2 lasers) so I would volunteer to get it up and running once we receive it. I would also set up a MS Windows PC and have already purchased a copy of Corel Draw X5 to use for printing and converting artwork (other Windows software such as Inkscape will be installed as well.)

In addition to the machine itself (entry model is $2350+$160 s/h/insurance), I would get an air compressor ($150), a water bath for cooling (5 gallon bucket - water pump is included), beam combiner alignment laser ($300), 2 year extended warranty ($300), and two safety goggles ($100 total). Some additional hoses and hardware will probably be need to vent the cutting chamber outside. So I would spend a total of $3360 if we can raise the money.

The larger area model costs $3500 but includes the beam combiner. Total cost is $3500+$125(s/h)+$35(insurance)+$150(air compressor)+$250(exhaust fan)+$300(2 year warranty)= $4360. Safety goggles and misc vent hardware might add $140. I would also like to get an external water chiller so we don't have a bucket under the table - it is $350 so call it $4850 total.

A 60W laser with 20x12 inch cutting area starts at $5500 from Hurricane Lasers or FS Laser but shipping is about $400 and a better water chiller is required (maybe $600). So I'd expect the total price to be more like $7000.