For many would-be makers, there are barriers aplenty that can keep one from realizing one's dreams. One of the first barriers is not having access to the right tools—the welding rig, 3D printer, laser cutter etc. that you need for your project—or the know-how to work one. But thankfully companies like Glowforge are ready to step in and become barrier removers, by designing better, cheaper tools that are easier to use than their forebears.
Glowforge is currently democratizing laser cutting by designing an affordable, easy-to-use laser cutter/printer that takes clever advantage of software. By integrating affordable smartphone cameras linked to software, their machine enables you to do things like draw directly on your part and have the laser trace-cut it (once you've removed your hand, naturally). The hassles of part alignment are all done on the screen of your smart device, rather than on the physical bed of the machine, giving you a WYSIWYG interface that reduces errors. And they reckon that their eponymous machine can rival a $10,000-plus laser cutter, but for just under two grand.
Take a look at some of the things they've produced:
Personalized hardwood skin for Macbook Pro / Print Time: 19min / Material Cost: $9.00 Plywood iPhone stand / Print Time: 42min / Material Cost: $12.00 Walnut veneer Macbook keyboard caps / Print Time: 33min / Material Cost: $12.00 Stacked contrasting pen holder / Print Time: 29min / Material Cost: $8.00 Engraved glass spice jars / Print Time: 9min / Material Cost: $10.00 Kip leather custom satchel / Print Time: 133min / Material Cost: $58.00
Check out how easy this looks to use:
Here's a more in-depth video, for those of you interested in the technology behind it, and some of the early successes that drove company founder Dan Shapiro to develop the machine:
For the next 26 days, they're taking pre-orders for the machine at an astonishing 50% off (i.e. the $4,000 model is going for $1,995), with shipping scheduled for December of this year. Demand is apparently strong: In the four days since the sale began, they've racked up $3,052,002 in sales!
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