[hackerspaces] laser cutter revenue

Will Bradley will at heatsynclabs.org
Tue Nov 22 17:14:42 CET 2011

Indeed, the amount of work our Nate does keeping the laser working is worth
many thousands. We're lucky to have such a skilled person with so much free
time and desire to help out. It's probably the most well-maintained tool at
our lab as a result; even our soldering iron was down for weeks after the
element burnt out.
On Nov 22, 2011 9:02 AM, "James Arlen" <myrcurial at thinkhaus.org> wrote:

> 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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