There are several ways to transform computer-drawn designs into fabricated materials, and two of the most popular are laser cutters and 3D printers. Both are now available for everyday consumers who want to use them for craft projects, but they are expensive, and most people find that they need to choose one or the other. They work very differently and yield different kinds of results.
3-D printers are able to recreate an extremely detailed model, and they can produce many household items, like paper towel rollers, iPhone holders, or even replacement parts for machines. There are many open-source 3-D designs that are available for download, and users can create anything they can imagine once they learn how to use the 3-D modeling software. The downside, however, to relying exclusively on a 3D printer is the fact that the printer only uses certain types of plastic or resin that melt and harden. In other words, 3-D printers can create a model figure or a mold, but most commonly available models can’t produce items made of wood, metal, glass, or other materials. Many people find that this limitation outweighs the advantages.
While 3-D printers work by gradually adding material to form a shape, laser cutters subtract material. A CO2 laser cutter is a powerful cutting tool, even those sold for home use. The laser can cut through thin metal, leather, cloth, wood, and paper, and it can etch on the surface of many other thicker materials like stone and glass. Often, laser cutters choose their device because they want to be able to decorate a DIY project, for example, etching a design into a wood cutting board or engraving a name into a thin metallic business card. Others use the tools to carve wooden toys or puzzle pieces. Laser cutters are very useful for making any kind of 2-dimensional or engraved design, but they can’t produce 3-D figures.
Between the two, the laser cutter may be the better investment because it allows the user to work with a much wider range of materials. To learn more about how laser cutters work and how to maintain them, check out the videos at www.YouTube.com/BossLasers.