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DIY Laser Cutter Raises Capital, Concerns 184

An anonymous reader sends this quote from Wired: "Affordable 3-D printers and CNC mills are popping up everywhere, opening up new worlds of production to wide ranges of designers. However, one major tool still hasn’t received a DIY overhaul: the laser cutter. Maybe people are sensitive because Goldfinger tried to cut James Bond in half with one, but all that changes now with Patrick Hood-Daniel’s new Kickstarter, 'Build Your Own Laser Cutter.' ... A 40-watt laser tube and power supply means it can cut a variety of materials: wood, plastic, fabric, and paper. ... There is one major red flag, however. The machine’s frame is built from of Medium Density Overlay (MDO) — a type of plywood. Hood-Daniels says this is a feature, making the blackTooth less sensitive to thermal distortion and inaccuracy than a metal frame, but it also creates a serious, fire-breathing concern. ... When asked for comment, Hood-Daniel says 'Initially, I had the same thoughts as to the precarious use of wood for the structure, but even with long burns to the structure which were made on accident when starting a run, there was no ignition.'"
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DIY Laser Cutter Raises Capital, Concerns

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  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RobinH ( 124750 ) on Monday October 22, 2012 @04:48PM (#41733345) Homepage
    So that means there's not really any story then?
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday October 22, 2012 @05:02PM (#41733517) Journal

    When did the notion start to circulate that anything remotely related to wood is some kind of incendiary deathtrap? Is it when people stopped having to start fires with nothing more than minimal tools and careful arrangement of sticks?

    Christ, you've got something designed to cut through plastics with a laser, plastics which are basically just waiting for some added heat to turn into sticky, flaming, hydrocarbon death, and nobody says a thing. Suddenly, terrifying wood,. notorious for perfunctory smoldering in response to heat, bursts onto the scene and everybody is freaking out about ignition. Kids these days.

    Somehow, people have been practicing pyrography for millenia without bursting into flames.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday October 22, 2012 @05:05PM (#41733563) Journal

    The power supply for a 40 watt gas laser will give you a bit of a tickle, as well, if you fuck up... Fire is the least of your problems here.

  • by Pentium100 ( 1240090 ) on Monday October 22, 2012 @05:11PM (#41733635)

    It depends. A laser that can cut metal is obviously dangerous and you should not place any part of your body that you want to remain attached in the path of the beam. So, a very high power laser is like a disc saw - everyone can see that it's dangerous (it can cut a piece of wood or metal, obviously it can cut off a finger).

    The lower power lasers are different. They do not burn, do not cut and are powered by a couple of batteries, like a flash light. To understand that it is still dangerous, you need to understand that the beam is highly concentrated and can still burn the retina, even tough it does not burn a piece of paper and you do not feel it if you place your hand in the path of the beam.

    Similar stuff with guns. Most people understand that a real gun is really dangerous and you can kill someone with it (they may not understand all the safety precautions, but will tell you that you should not load the gun, aim it at somebody and pull the trigger if you do not want to kill that somebody). On the other hand, BB guns are not seen as that dangerous, kids shoot each other all the time with them and if nobody manages to hit an eye, it will be OK.

  • by dbc ( 135354 ) on Monday October 22, 2012 @05:13PM (#41733659)

    So I wonder how much experience the poster has with either MDO or laser cutters. I have a laser cutter, and have used MDO, but have never tried cutting MDO. Go try it. I cut plywood and MDF -- I'm less worried about a fire than the laser cutting through the MDO given enough dwell time. But basically, this artcle seems like a "I'm clueless and scared, so let's post unsubstiated speculation to SlashDot."

    BTW -- there is another open source laser cutter out there: [] I'll probably replace mine with a Lasersaur when my machine dies (it's acting poorly :(

  • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Monday October 22, 2012 @05:15PM (#41733683)

    I suspect the idea here is for this to be the enthusiast's enthusiast toy. One of the single largest cost factors in building a 3d printer is the cost of the laser cut gears, I suspect this is a plan to cut that cost considerably. If you've got one guy out of 20 who can cut new gears for all his friends, suddenly the cost of making and maintaining a 3d printer plummets, and interest sky rockets. I sincerely hope they don't plan on having a DIY 40 watt laser enclosure in every house, I suspect this is more of a bootstrap effort.

  • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spottywot ( 1910658 ) on Monday October 22, 2012 @05:17PM (#41733719)

    The "Concern" in the title is that it is made of wood... and therefore may be a witch.

    Only if it weighs the same as a duck.

  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Monday October 22, 2012 @05:21PM (#41733777)

    This will destroy Rock, Scissors and Paper.

    Nothing beats Laser Cutter. The game is ruined.

    Or replaced by a newer variation: rock, laser cutter, mirror.

  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Monday October 22, 2012 @05:26PM (#41733831)

    I suspect the idea here is for this to be the enthusiast's enthusiast toy.

    Or maybe just put one in the local hardware store. Take your pattern in, they cut up a piece of metal for you.

    In principal its a little like the key duplication machine.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.