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Laser cutting in Vancouver
2017-03-06 00:01
funvill

Laser cutting in Vancouver

A laser cutter is an amazing tool. Its simple enough to be teach in a single day and easy to produce high quality projects. A laser cutter should be one of the first tools that every maker-space should buy. Until recently laser cutters we expensive to buy and run, but that is changing with cheap Chinese imports and local distributors competing on price.

This guide is for beginners that are just getting started with laser cutting and experts to gain inspiration and better understanding of their tools.

Why trust me

~4000 hours of laser cutting time, ~2000 hours of designing, and ~250 hours of repair and maintenance over a 5 year period. I have done a complete rebuild of a cheap Chinese import and made my own 2w laser diode paper laser cutter.

When I got a laser cutter for the first time I was hooked. I spent every spare moment making projects for it. I started using it in all my projects, it became the most important tool in my toolbox. I started writing applications, plugins, and tools to make it easier to produce files for the laser cutter in various ways. I taught workshops and have given lighting talks on the subject.

Most of my open source laser cutter projects can be found in my github repos. ( @funvill )

Where to get your projects done in vancouver

If you are in Vancouver, you are lucky to have many places to get your projects cut.

  • Maker Labs - They have 3x great well-maintained laser cutters with great staff to get you started. You can cut your own files after taking a mandatory training course or you can get them to cut it for you. Their lasers are some of the largest and most powerful accessible laser cutters in the city. 150W and 48" by 36". $1 a min. Also known as Laser Cutter Cafe
  • Make Vancouver - They will laser cut your projects for you. They have a large catalog of pre-made designs ready to be engraved into just about anything. Call for quote
  • Laser Creative - They will laser cut your projects for you and support a wide range of materials $1.50/min. They can do the design, and provide the materials for additional fee.
  • Metal Craft - If you need to laser cut metal this is one of the better places in Vancouver. With a 2000W laser cutter, its one of the highest power laser cutters around. Call for quote.
  • Industrial Laser - Expensive but if you need a large quantity and you need it out metal they are a good resource. Call for quote.
  • UBC SALA - UBC student and staff can use the laser cutter at SALA on campus $0.80/min with a $5.00 minimum charge. 16" x 28"

Buying and running your own laser cutter

ToDo:

The experts and where to get inspiration

So many great resources for laser cutting. This section will grow over time as I add new resources.

Instagram

Instagram is a great place to start.

Furniture

  • Open Desk - Free open-source CNC furniture and an experiment in the possibilities of distributed manufacturing.
  • AtFab - Free open-source CNC furniture. Creating fully parametric fabable furnishings whose dimensions, details, material thickness, and slot size can be easily transformed and fabricated
  • Sketch Chair - SketchChair is a free, open-source software tool that allows anyone to easily design and build their own digitally fabricated furniture.
  • Open Design Furniture - An Amazing collection of open source furniture from many different sites and designers.
  • Pedro Terra LAB - Pedro Terra LAB Open source furniture.

Places to avoid

With all the good places in Vancouver to get your laser cutter projects done there bound to be a few bad places. The Vancouver Hackspace (VHS) is one of these horrible places. Their laser cutter has broken for weeks and with no timeline for when it will be fixed, it's unreliable. The safety course is pathetic and will get people hurt. Their home made air filter (Safety equipment) is sketchy at best, they just don't care about the heath of their members or neighbors. Their community is toxic, where even good people will fail at their projects.

If you been to the Vancouver Hackspace, don't let them ruin your experience with laser cutters. Try one of the many alternatives.