Laser-Cutter #2 : Awsome POWAH

Ok… some time passes, time to recalibrate and regroup re: impressions.

The new laser-cutter is now making $. Using it to make linings for caliper boxes:


And I’ve made these little things to help with calibration


And 1/2 did a new business card…


…but there’s more to this stuff than meets the eye – it’s doing this annoying thing where every new cut starts with a massive spike, that leave a hole. When you work with steel, you need to make a “track-in”… but I really don’t want to have to do that with acrylic. If Ponoko don’t need to do it, then neither should I. Off to the laser-cutter forums go I then.

Still… the most major second impression I get from this bit of kit… is the (waiting) power of it… the power to make something… then click a button and make it again. And again. And send that file to someone else and they can make it. Not the right size? Scale it. Press button. Done. Different material? No problem… click a button, done.

I know this is kindof pointing out the obvious – but this is the first time I’ve really felt it… when digital fabrication hits the mainstream it’s going to be a tsunami. Entire industries are going to be knocked out of the way… and new industries created I guess. The copy-monopoly people are going to be utterly incontinent – but like, fuck them. The technologies for oppression that these people are co-creating are such that not only do they not deserve to be in business, they don’t deserve to live.

But… still… there it is… waiting in the wings…

… Download a design… click a button. Done. Want another one? Click a button… done. Want to sell it? Fine… go for it, but you’re competing with people who also have these machines… and what do they do? Click a button. Done.

3 Comments » for Laser-Cutter #2 : Awsome POWAH
  1. Jez says:

    I’d welcome your thoughts on this reality check on 3D printing:

    I find myself annoyed by the extent to which 3D printers are sold as capable of making anything. They are not. They are capable of making very complicated geometry for small numbers of parts at low cost, but geometry is rarely the only source of functionality, except for examples like your business card here.

    And, as someone with a background in materials engineering, a choice between PLA and ABS is like a choice between a soggy British Rail ham sandwich and a soggy British Rail lettuce sandwich. Where’s the steak?

  2. Nick Taylor says:

    Yea – I’ve long complained that the main thing that 3D printers are useful for is printing parts for other 3D printers…

    … and CAD IS a nightmare… I’ve yet to produce a single workable 3D thing… and I’m reasonably proficient at 2D stuff… and have spent weeks trying to do things with CAD (albeit, several days here, several days there).

    I’d use 3D printing myself, initially to make electronic plugs… you can’t get housing for micro-usb female inline plugs for example… and this is just one example. So…

    1) like programming, the “objects” that 3D printers make will likely be designed by professionals…. but will be easier to tweak, and we’re likely to see parametricly tweakable designs online (eg: Nervous System ). It’s also likely we’ll see various types of “design lego”, where the science is already worked out, and people are just plugging (on screen) components together.

    2) “the maker revolution” is at least in part, an illusion – it’s actually driven by blogs needing something to write about… and finding that readers are really interested in process… but like animals and small children, any behaviour that gets attention is amplified. People are now using process as a type of advertising. I do it myself – I’m just not very good at it.

    3) 3D printing needs a sister-revolution : materials… to really make a difference.

    4) 3D printing is still mainly about prototyping – as opposed to CNC mills and laser cutters, that can create sellable products.

    5) if you own a 3D printer though, and are “in the business”… the prototyping loop goes from about 10 days per iteration to about 2 hours. It radically increases the power of inventors

    6) Personally, I have a feeling I’ll buy a filabot before I buy a printer. My need to recycle milk bottle is greater than my need to make things with the filament.

    7) molded resin isn’t that easy to use either :)… although it does open up whole new vistas of possibility re: materials.