About this project
Thank you to every one who supported the campaign and made it an overwhelming success.
More info will be available at: www.darklylabs.com
The missing link…
The LazerBlade is an entry-level laser cutter & engraver kit, developed to fill the gap in today's world of affordable desktop rapid-prototyping machines.
Our goal was to create a portable device that went beyond a novelty and proved itself a useful tool for both the novice creator as well as the serious artisan, and everyone in between.
What is laser cutting and engraving?
Laser cutting is a technology that uses a powerful laser to cut or engrave flat sheet materials such as paper, wood, plastic, fabric etc. It works by directing the output of a high-power laser at the material to be cut / engraved. The material then either melts, burns or vaporizes away, leaving an edge with a high-quality surface finish.
LazerBlade Key Features:
- Available in A4 and A3 sizes.
- 2 watt M140 Laser Diode. (**Now with 3 Watt 9mm 445nm Diode)
- Variable laser power control, 0% to 100% (not just on/off).
- Cleverly designed for accuracy, performance and safety.
- Partially Assembled Kit.
- Stores vertically when not in use, with included stand.
What can the LazerBlade do?
The LazerBlade is a precision device that can both cut and engrave many materials. It's compact, quiet, portable and handsome enough to sit on your desk while packing an amazing punch for its price.
You will be able to cut or engrave with vector graphics, CAD designs or even photos. Work with the LazerBlade ready software bundle offered as part of this campaign or use your favorite program.
Design: Simple, clever and handsome...
Our design philosophy was to create a minimalistic and handsome design that could sit proudly on a user's desk.
To achieve its professional feel and performance, we chose to make the chassis from an industrial plastic that is very strong and will not be susceptible to warping from moisture.
Assembly: Super easy...
All the parts are designed and manufactured to fit together precisely. No need for drilling or special tools. Easily assembled within two hours.
Laser: Seriously powerful...
We use the latest 2 watt (2000mW) M140 laser diode.
More laser power not only means faster cutting and engraving, but also lets you work with more types of materials and thicknesses.
Our custom laser-driver board also lets you control the laser power from 0-100% while cutting or engraving, making it possible to get very detailed results.
The LazerBlade is not a toy. It uses a very powerful laser diode that can burn your skin and damage your eyes if not used responsibly. The laser cutting process also produces fumes that may be toxic from certain materials, such as plastics.
Your safety is very important to us, hence we have designed the laser unit to offer a layer of protection from the laser along with providing a pair of laser safety glasses for the user.
We recommend the LazerBlade is always operated in a well ventilated area and ONLY working on materials which do not emit toxic fumes. Our assembly and operating instructions will contain a detailed section on materials and laser safety.
Harnessing all that power...
To handle this amount of laser power we designed a clever laser unit.
It directs airflow to both keep the laser within recommended operating temperatures as well as dispersing cutting fumes away from optics and the cutting region. This means continuous running, longer laser life and no lens contamination.
Acts as a protective laser light shield, blocking the laser cutting area from the user and suppressing any stray laser bounces.
Adjusts vertically to allow for different sized materials. Combine this with our special focus tool and optimum laser focus can be easily set.
If you have to work with taller sized materials, you can always raise the entire machine!
Electronics: Efficient and expandable...
We use a combination of "off the shelf" components along with a custom designed main board and laser driver.
The laser driver can control the laser power 0% to 100% on-the-fly as the machine is cutting or engraving, allowing very fine laser control, especially when photo engraving.
We can keep the electronic's cost down by tailoring features specifically for our requirements and design in expandability for the future.
Software: Unleashing its potential..
The LazerBlade works with industry standard Gcode. This gives you access to using many open-source and free packages to create your cutting files, such as Inkscape.
On top of this, to help you unleash its full potential, we have formed alliances with software companies to create LazerBlade ready versions of their already fantastic programs.
We are proud to be supported by:
- Vectric with Cut2D-Laser
- John Champlain with PicLaser-Lite.
Both packages are ready to use with the LazerBlade and are included at no charge to Kickstarter kit backers.
Cut2D Laser is designed to help hobby CNC laser users convert CAD, DXF and graphic designs into GCode / CNC Tool-paths for laser cutting. Easy to use software that's very functional and creates high quality CNC tool-paths for the LazerBlade.
PicLaser Lite is the first Image to Gcode program written specifically for CNC laser diode engravers, controlled by Arduino GRBL controllers. Create amazingly detailed laser engravings from pictures and photographs in a few easy steps.
A project in action..
Here are the basic steps in creating a laser cut Papercraft model. This specific kit was created by VisualSpicer and only offered in a cut-by-hand version.
Adobe Illustrator was used to create the vector artwork for the kit pieces.
2: Generating G-Code
The Illustrator artwork was opened in Vectric's Cut2D-Laser and the tool paths were generated. The tool paths direct the LazerBlade as to where it needs to cut, its cutting speed and laser power.
Time-lapse of the cutting process. With the 2 watt laser diode, this took about 2 minutes.
By laser cutting the pieces for this kit, we were able to halve the overall build time. Thats approximately 20 hours down to 10. Not bad eh!
Why we need you...
We have already taken the LazerBlade from an idea to a fully functioning and viable product. We now need your help to get it out into the market.
Your support will enable us to:
- Start placing quantity orders for components.
- Set up for manufacturing the 3D printed parts.
- Finalise the electronic boards and prepare them for production.
Let’s get technical...
- Custom designed main-board and high-efficiency laser diode driver.
- ATmega328 running modified GRBL software.
- Connects to PC / Mac via USB
- 2 Watt, M140 5.6mm 445nm Laser Diode. (** Now shipping with 3 Watt, 9mm 445nm diode from achieving stretch goal)
- Three Element Glass Laser Lens. (** Now shipping with G-2 Glass lens from achieving stretch goal)
- Laser Unit: Custom designed, fan assisted cooling system which protects laser diode, optics and your eyes.
- 110-240V AC Mains / 12V 2A DC Power Adaptor (included).
- Compatible with any program that generates Gcode.
- Choose from many free / open-source options such as Inkscape.
- Use the included software bundle (Cut2D-Laser & PicLaser-Lite).
What materials can it work with?
Manufacturing Plan / Timetable
What about the Rewards?
We put a great deal of thought and time into creating an amazing set of rewards for the campaign. Rewards that not only showcase the potential of the LazerBlade but also hopefully inspire you.
- All components to assemble your A4 or A3 kit.
- All laser components including laser unit, 2 watt laser diode and three element glass lens.
- Step-by-step illustrated assembly instructions.
- A special anodized aluminium focus tool.
- One pair of laser safety goggles.
- 110-240V AC Mains / 12V 2A DC Power Adaptor.
- USB cable.
- Kickstarter software bundle. (Cut2D-Laser & PicLaser-Lite)
Exclusive LazerBlade Supporter Award
A personalised laser engraved acrylic award (with the LazerBlade of course!) Individually engraved with your name and exclusive to supporters the LazerBlade Kickstarter Campaign.
Display it proudly, be the envy of your friends and ultimately pass it on to your grandchildren with a story to astound them.
DeLorean-LazerBlade papercraft kit
In conjunction with the renowned Papercraft masters at VisualSpicer, we are proud to offer you the DeLorean-LazerBlade Kit.
This is the stock DeLorean kit and comprises 12 pages printed on quality 200 gsm card with step-by-step assembly instructions. Each page has been pre-cut and scored with the LazerBlade making assembly much faster and leaving you more time to contemplate time-travel.
$80,000 = G2-Glass Lens upgrade. ACHIEVED!
The G2-Glass lens offers up to a 30% power increase over the standard 3 Element Glass lens. If we hit this goal, all Kickstarter LazerBlade kits will ship with the G2-Glass lens as standard.
$120,000 = 3 watt 9mm laser diode upgrade. ACHIEVED!
This laser diode, produced by Nichia, outputs an astounding 3+ watts of cutting power. This is a significant increase and will allow faster cuts on thicker materials.
As a very special "Thank You", at this goal, all Kickstarter LazerBlade kits will ship with the 3 watt laser diode as standard.
$415,000 = Aluminium Base Plate. ACHIEVED!
As our `Final Stretch Goal`, we have decided to include an aluminium base plate with every LazerBlade pledged on Kickstarter.
See Update #6 for all the details.
Shipping and other details...
LazerBlade kits are shipped from Darkly Labs, based in Australia. We ship internationally and have worked hard to get the best possible shipping prices for all LazerBlade supporters.
GST (For Australia ONLY)
Please note that GST is payable on all LazerBlade kits sold within Australia. This will be collected prior to shipping.
Duty and Taxes outside of Australia
Duty, custom tariffs, goods and services tax (GST), value added tax (VAT) and similar taxes and fees may be charged upon delivery by the destination country. These fees and taxes are not included in the shipping charges. The amount of applicable duty, tariffs, taxes, GST and VAT, if any, will vary by country. Contact your local customs office if you need to know more.
Risks and challenges
We have put a great deal of effort into engineering a very simple and efficient design. We exhaustively test our prototypes, documenting areas for improvement and systematically refining them. We are very confident in having a solid mechanical and electronic design.
SUPPLY CHAIN AND LOGISTICS
Supply can make or break a project. We have been working closely with a number of local suppliers for the key mechanical components such as rails and chassis material. Not only to achieve the best pricing, but also ensure stock and lead-times are within our production requirements. Along with this we purchase various electrical components from China and have been testing the quality from various suppliers.
MANUFACTURING AND ASSEMBLY
We manufacture various components ourselves, such as the 3d printed parts. The Darkly Labs team has a great deal of experience in 3d printing having worked for a number of years with Stratasys and Makerbot machines on production projects.
We also perform all our pre-assembly and quality assurance locally at Darkly Labs. We have access to many skilled fabricators and plan is to grow our team to handle demand as needed.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Connecting to the LazerBlade:
The LazerBlade will work with both PC Windows and Mac OSX. As long as you have a spare USB port, you can connect to it.
It has not been tested on Linux yet.
Streaming the Gcode files:
There are numerous open-source applications available to stream the GCode files to the LazerBlade, including our personal favorite 'Universal GCode Sender'. They are generally available for both PC & Mac.
We give you all the details on how to install everything needed and start using the LazerBlade.
Generating the Gcode files:
The software bundle (Cut2D-Laser & PicLaser-Lite) will only work on Windows.
In-house we use both programs on a Mac running Windows 7 under Parallels without any problems.
There are also open-source multi-platform options such as Inkscape for creating your artwork and generating the Gcode files.
No. At the moment we only offer the complete kit.
This may change once the LazerBlade is complete and in production, depending on demand.
Yes, the LazerBlade is controlled by a modified version of GRBL, an open-source project. The main modifications we have made are to handle our CoreXY drive system and be able to drive the laser intensity on-the-fly without disruption to movement.
GRBL has many parameters you can experiment with including travel speeds and accelerations.
You can dive in and adjust the maximum travel of the machine and it's working co-ordinate space if you ever wanted to expand to a larger platform in the future.
For the hardcore hacker, you can even re-burn the firmware to the arduino.
We can use this feature to send you firmware updates and improvements as well.
With it's current motor / belt / pulley setup, the LazerBlade has a mechanical resolution of 0.08-0.1mm. This equates to approximately 300 DPI.
The laser 'kerf' is a difficult value to express because it is dependant on so many factors. We will be running some tests on common materials and posting out results shortly.
We get asked this quite a bit, so here is the answer.
The M140 laser we use is technically rated as a 1.6 watt (at 1.2 amps) laser diode in its specification sheets by Nichia, the manufacturer.
We run the laser at a maximum current of 1.7 amps which produces on average a little over 2 watts of laser power.
The reason we can run it at this higher power is because we are able to keep the diode cool enough not to cause it damage and our electronics help protect it from current overshoots.
The 9mm 445nm diode, which we are referring to as a 3 watt laser diode, is a similar situation. We run this at 2.4 amps maximum and achieve around 3 watts of laser power.
These performance values have been tested and if you are interested you can look at the following two links online:
Please ask for further clarification if this doesn't make sense.
We have had so many questions about the 3 watt laser and want to let you know that it is currently being tested.
We do not want to post any speculation on what advantages the 3 watt laser will give until we have thoroughly test it.
Support this project
- (35 days)