Let me start by thanking everyone who donated to our Kickstarter project. The support from the community was overwhelming and we can’t thank you enough! It took a couple of weeks to finish transferring funds from Kickstarter. Less the fees charged by Kickstarter and Amazon, we raised approximately $2100.
I had spent some time researching laser engraver/cutters prior to the start of our fundraiser. The most useful resource for hands on information was the laser engraving forum at CNCzone.com. We considered something DIY along the lines of a Makerbot or RepRap, both of which we’ve worked with. There are some really amazing homebrew builds out there. By the same logic, we’ve only had a few people spend time using the Makerbot due to the learning curve associated with its use. Ideally we would find a commercial product which required a minimal amount of setup and maintenance to run.
Our friends at a much more established hackerspace, NYC Resistor, managed to acquire a mid range Epilog unit, but this was out of our price range. Recently several Chinese companies have come to the fore offering much lower priced products, which raises some questions about the quality of their products. Some searching around CNCzone suggested mixed quality and experiences with Chinese units, and suggested getting support or parts could be difficult. The quality of the software was also a concern.
When dicussing our needs we found Full Spectrum Engineering’s 40W Hobby Laser. The company is based in the US, but offers prices competitive with Chinese made units. Some searching around CNCzone turned up positive reviews, and suggested that the parts were sourced in China with the software and support coming from the US. They also offer a DSP-based control board for it that works over USB, a big plus for most of our members whose laptops don’t have parallel ports.
So, with all of that in mind, tetsu contacted FSE and ordered our laser. Unfortunately in the few days it took to arrange shipping and payment they sold out. Our laser is about 45 days out.I t’s ok though. We’re going to use the time to figure out the design of the FAMiLab keychains we’re going to be shipping out!