The idea is simple: Design a laser cutter and make the building process repeatable for others.
Here's the thing. Laser cutters are traditionally expensive ($30,000 to as much as you can spend) and there are a lot of artist, hackers, architects, designers, DIYers who could do great things with them- if they could afford one, or even get regular access to one. Pretty much anybody who is a maker could benefit from a laser cutter. Unfortunately, turnkey systems are expensive, and there isn't really a clear and simple way to build one. We can change this: with roughly six month of R&D time we can develop a laser cutter which anyone can build, use, and maintain. Most importantly this system will be open source which means anyone can improve and modify the design.
Everyone should be able to have a laser cutter! Our goal is to design a 100W machine which is capable of cutting 1/2" (12.5mm) acrylic, wood, multiple layers of fabric or thin sheet metal.
Why Laser cutters are a key technology for making things.
Remember when people couldn't make their own videos, CDs or print out photos? Me neither (at least we try to forget). In many areas of media, the last century was quite the read-only culture where a few gatekeepers would sit on the means to produce everything. Not the best situation for creativity or for people with lots of cool ideas but no cash.
When you look at robotics and fabrication this is still the case. In 2010, a reasonable laser cutter is still well over 30k and therefore outside the budget of most of us. However, we are at a point where this can change. We believe we are able to design a laser cutter that can be built for under 5k (a 100W version) and a budget version (25W) for under 3k. It would be completely open source and repeatable.
How this will go down First of all, we need your support! Your pledge is what makes this project possible. Once our funding goal is reached, the first prototype will be formulated. With material testing and debugging underway we can make a solid alpha system in about 6 months. At this point, start checking your snail mail box for the alpha kit (see pledges on how to get one).
Once our alpha testers have had a chance to geek out for a few months, we will launch into beta with the beta testers. Then collaborators. Our goal is to launch publicly within a few months thereafter, releasing the project, documentation and schematics to the greater good.
We will offer the Lasersaur open source system as kits available to the public as well as offer documentation online for anyone wishing to build their system from scratch.
Who we are We (addie and stefan) are alumi from NYU's ITP and more recently fellows at Eyebeam in New York City. Both are institutions dedicated to open source culture and experimentation with cutting edge technology.
As individuals, and as collaborators, we have been designing open source software since 2002, hardware since 2006, and like sharing our ideas with the bigger community. Our first open source hardware system was launched in 2007 (CUBIT: the multitouch system, as well as the later Touchkit, 2008). These systems were covered internationally and nationally by media such as MIT Technology Review, The Economist, Der Standard and even CNN. Over the last half a decade, our open source hardware has been built and used by hundreds of people, labs and research universities or institutions. We believe that people should think globally and act locally and the open source movement has been instrumental for this.
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