Laser Cutter Proposal - UPDATE 2015-10-21

This page (and the laser cutter procurement in general) has gone quite stale - it's proven to be a complex effort to arrange for a group purchase, logistics of purchasing the item, and then coordinating licensing/training requirements and enforcing only approved operators to use a machine.

Therefore, the MHV Committee is about to pull the trigger on a http://glowforge.com (basic model) using community funds.

The basic model is a Class 1 laser product, requiring no special operator skills or training, which better suits the current realities of our membership and attendance.

It's also only roughly $4,000 AUD after shipping and GST, but only for a few more days, in case you're wondering why we're rushing into this decision: it's currently cheap enough that we don't need to rely on member pledges.

To get the best possible value for money for the community, this has to be done ASAP as the Glowforge is currently discounted 50% but not for much longer.

The disadvantage with this unit is that it is much smaller and less powerful than the requirements discussed here - see http://glowforge.com/tech-specs/:

  • 40W vs 150W desired
  • 300x500mm work area vs 900×600 desired
  • handles material up to 13mm vs 12mm desired (“Thickness: Varies by material; can cut most 1/4″ (6mm) plywood and acrylic on one side; twice as thick by reversing and cutting from both sides with optical alignment”)
  • Doesn't do fancy rotary axis stuff.

Requirements have initially been gathered from a mailing list thread in Jan 2014.

  1. Be operable in a safe way with appropriate safety interlocks and access control to be determined.
  2. Have suitable air extraction features (or ability to easily add them ourselves)
  3. Be able to cut wood and acrylic materials of varying thickness up to (or exceeding) 12mm.
  4. Preferably have a bed size of at least 900x600mm
  5. Fits somewhere in the space

We've selected a machine that currently has a commercially sensitive quote, but is a commercial product (not a build-it-yourself kit) and has the following features:

  • 150W Sealed CO2 Laser
  • Roughly 1300x900mm bed size
  • A movable Z bed
  • A rotary axis attachment allowing us to laser etch (and potentially cut) cylinders
  • Autofocusing capabilities
  • Extraction system
  • Cooling system

It will be capable of cutting many materials like acrylic, plywood, leather. However, it is not possible to cut metals (laser not powerful enough), PVC (toxic), carbon fibre (laser wont be able to focus properly) or MDF (makes a big mess) on the machine we've chosen. A reasonable list of materials that may be cut by the machine are on this page under the CO2 laser columns: http://www.epiloglaser.com.au/laserable_materials.htm

There is more detail about the decisions that were made at a meeting on the 19th of Feb 2014 on the mailing list: http://www.makehackvoid.com/pipermail/makers/2014-February/006481.html

We've identified that we need to raise approximately $9000 including port fees and taxes to facilitate this purchase. We'd really like to get as high as we can in terms of pledges before committing to purchase the selected unit.

Many members have indicated willingness to contribute funds towards the purchase of a laser cutter. Below is a table of names and pledged amounts. It is a rough indicator at this time to gauge interest and ability to contribute financially.

Any amount pledged and paid towards the purchase of the machine will count towards a 'prepayment' of machine time. To formalise the member funding arrangements, we propose we develop a Laser Cutter Funding Agreement that would be signed by all actual contributors and by a representative of the MHV Committee. The purpose of the Agreement is to make sure everyone understands their rights and responsibilities (and the risks) that go with contributing to such a large and and important piece of equipment for the Space. Everyone is invited to contribute their thoughts to the drafting of the Agreement.Laser_Cutter_Funding_Agreement

Name Pledged Amount Notes
Tim/merk $250 Would prefer a bed size that can take 1200×600 pieces
John Telek $100 making parts for robots (money already given to MHV) ​
Jamie Reid $250 Prop making, terrain for gaming, etc
Paul Garrett $500 engraving and cutting acrylic, ply
Max Bainrot $100 Making sexy plastic enclosures, anything that'll do upto 3-5mm ABS/PLA/PVC
Adam Thomas $256
Stephen Davies $200
Jack Pittar $300 UAV/aircraft, maybe a strandbeest
Miles Goodhew $251 Stuff and things
Andreas $200 You can never have too many lasers!
Jason Orchard $150 Laser Laser Laser, Pew Pew Pew
Thomas McMenamin $500 I really want this to happen!
Rene Konrad $150 Looking forward to it!
TOTAL ~~=sum(range(b,1,b,row()-1))~~

We could also raise money for maintenance/training by offering some limited cutting services to members who just want “one-off” jobs.

I've seen other hackerspaces (at least Metalab and Shackspace) solve this by having a money box next to the laser and charging people based on how long their job goes for.

We've discussed safety with a few external organisations and have sought to get copies of their safety documentation and procedures.

MHV will need to come up with appropriate procedures for use and maintenance of the laser cutter which will be based off other space's procedures and we will seek advice from appropriate government bodies about regulatory requirements.

We've reached out to Questacon for information about their safety procedures for their laser cutter, and will seek additional safety information from other spaces that have them to build a safety protocol for this device.

It is likely that use of a laser cutter will be by trained personnel or with supervision. We will need to train as many people as we can to make sure the laser cutter is available at most times.

Anyone got information about this?

Can try UNSW ADFA http://bsu.unsw.adfa.edu.au/courses/ohs_laser_safety/ohs_laser_safety_courses.html $810 for standard single person single day course,

Add your name here if you have any experience, training or qualifications in operating lasers. -Ryan Kellow, used them a fair bit at uni

Dickson College had their laser cutter delivered at the end of the last school year. I guess setting it up and operating will be the project for this school year. Talking to the person at Dickson College coordinating this project would answer alot of questions regarding management, safety, capability, and utility. - Jack.

University of Canberra have had a laser cutter for a long while. I can ask Bill Shelley, the man who runs the workshop if he has any sort of documentation or if he'd be willing to run some sort of training project. - Ryan

I have had experience with high power gas lasers as well as maintennance training on Spectra Physics and Coherent lasers. John Telek

I have used CO2 lasers, up to 40W extensively and am a level 2 laser safety officer if my certificate is still valid. Have all the info booklets from the course somewhere too so happy to help. Martin Berry

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