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January 4, 2010 1:11 AM   Subscribe

What are the Laser Cutter Master Works? I'm doing some legwork for a friend who is thinking of buying a laser cutter for art, craft, design, and architectural modeling, and I'm trying to figure out if I want to build my own for various geek reasons. What have people done with them?

More specifically, what are the most beautiful, or technically innovative, or coolest works? What works have really pushed the boundaries of the tool?

I have tacked up a couple notes on a wiki of pieces that have caught my eye, but I've been wondering what the best stuff is.
posted by sebastienbailard to Technology (11 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You should look at projects on thingiverse (especially those with the lasercut tag), posts on the MAKE blog, and Instructables.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 3:19 AM on January 4, 2010

Personally, I've been impressed by laser-cut furniture, intrictate etchings, and elaborate laser-cut gingerbread structures.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 3:20 AM on January 4, 2010

Response by poster: I'm aware of thingiverse, but am a little frustrated that it is turning into a fork of RepRap documentation, community, and ad revenue, even as it would be perfect to host and be Non-profit libraries versus corporatization of the public sphere for personal aggrandizement = bleh. Further discussion is definitely beyond the scope of this post.


Personally, I've been impressed by laser-cut furniture, intricate etchings, and elaborate laser-cut gingerbread structures.

Likewise. Would you have any links?
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:38 AM on January 4, 2010

Best answer: Kinda depends on whether you're interested in art or engineering. I hope you don't mind a self-link, I recently designed a folding, portable, high-speed book scanner. There's almost no part of that machine that didn't involve the laser somehow, including the PCB, glass platen, etc.

There's a lot of other laser-cut stuff at the links in my profile, but I won't sit here and self-aggrandize.
posted by fake at 4:34 AM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

There are companies that will laser etch metal laptops; I've seen some quite arty designs (obviously, etching is a lot like single-colour printing, so anything you could print you could etch).
posted by Mike1024 at 4:40 AM on January 4, 2010

Best answer: The gingerbread I referred to was a model of the Oberbaum bridge.

There are many laser-cut chairs, some more elaborate than others.

ibride's `Mobilier de Compagnie' range is quite nice, though their website is an unlinkable glob of flash. Another attractive commercial laser-cut product is the rhizome lamp.

There are some interesting pieces at The Laser Cutter Blog. The Ponoko Showroom is also a good source of inspiration.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 4:55 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you're looking for specific implementation details, there is a forum called "Sawmill Creek" where a lot of shop-owners and laser users talk about how to cut specific materials, where to find supplies, etc. I find the signal to noise ratio there to be not very good, but there are specifics you will find nowhere else.

Also, you have to register to view images and they prohibit links to other forums (WTF??) but EVEN SO it has some good resources.
posted by fake at 6:03 AM on January 4, 2010

Oh, and by the way, you DON'T want to build your own (and I say this as someone who's built his own CNC mill). Email me if you want more on that. Trust me, the low-end laser models will save you a ton of time and effort. The beauty of a laser is the instant gratification -- they Just Work for some things.

Even if you did plan to build one, have your friend buy one first. Then try to align it, cut a half-dozen different materials with it, minimize your kerf, maximize your cutting depth, etc. You'll be so much better equipped to build one when you're through with that.
posted by fake at 7:41 AM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

I use the laser cutter to make some portions of my exhibition artwork (Web site in profile). My vendor is quite good and does work for other artists and designers. They are at
posted by Slothrop at 2:14 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow! Everything is good, thanks. I noticed The Laser Cutter Blog and Sawmill Creek about 12 hours before posting the question, and still need to get them into the wiki.

The Laser Cutter Blog is stunning, and I still need to spend some hours working through it.

Regarding building a laser cutter, fake is right, and I won't be doing it unless I'm one of a team of people, and it will still be a couple year job. Further yammering is self-aggrandizement.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:33 PM on January 11, 2010

Response by poster: I'll leave this thread open for more links, and let it turn into potential chatfilter.

For people interested in setting up group buys of laser cutters, go here:
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:37 PM on January 11, 2010

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