[hackerspaces] laser cutter revenue

James Arlen myrcurial at thinkhaus.org
Tue Nov 22 17:02:34 CET 2011

Noting for the record, the amount of work that several think|hausers have put in to improving our cheap chinese laser should not be understated - our laser (sub $1k) didn't come with much (couldn't drive both x and y at the same time for instance) but can now do a whole lot of things - it's rather impressive.

Never underestimate the potential of a user to undo many elegant hacks - this is why I permit myself access to the laser only when I have enough in the bank to fund the part that I will inevitably break.


On 2011-11-22, at 10:49 AM, Nathaniel Bezanson wrote:

> So far, the one at i3 Detroit hasn't been the focal point of any big
> classes (though as soon as I get two software quirks figured out, I want
> to change that!), but there's a box on the wall next to it saying "laser
> time $10/hr". Most users round up to the nearest dollar, even for jobs
> only lasting a few seconds, so it generally does alright. I don't have
> dollar figures handy.
> To James' points: The water chiller that came with this machine had flow
> and temperature alarms, which originally weren't connected to anything. We
> wired them up so they'd inhibit the laser tube power supply if anything
> was amiss. The cabinet originally didn't have any sort of safety
> interlocks, so we added some and wired them to the same inhibit line. So
> far, nobody's ever forgotten to start the chiller (it's on the same
> switched power strip) or close the machine's cover, but we're protected
> against that eventuality.
> The lens air-assist compressor is also on the same power strip, but I
> don't trust the hose to remain unpinched forever. I've got some parts and
> just need to sit down and implement the airflow sensor in that line. The
> last main vulnerability is the exhaust blower, which is switched
> independently and has no automated feedback. I'd like to put a
> flow-sensing vane in that duct, too. Pie-in-the-sky wishlist also includes
> a (magnetic?) sensor on the fire-extinguisher mount, so the user must
> remove and then replace the extinguisher (reinforcing awareness of its
> location) to start the machine.
> Point being, idiot-proofing is also me-proofing, and all of it helps
> reduce the chances of an accident being costly. On top of that, there's a
> kitty to fund repairs or eventual tube replacement, and I think if the
> bill were to exceed the savings, enough of us appreciate the machine's
> value to just pony up the rest out-of-pocket. Hopefully once we start
> running classes, those contributions will max out the laser kitty quickly
> and the overage will go to general space goodness.
> Sorry I couldn't be more help on the accounting side. ;)
> -Nathaniel-
>> I know several spaces have laser cutters and some use them as a
>> revenue source.  I would like to see hard numbers on operating costs
>> of a laser cutter and revenue they bring in.  Could any spaces provide
>> this information?  It would be much appreciated.
>> Raymond
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