We’ve heard much about additive manufacturing technologies, but what about subtractive technology? Seattle-based Glowforge, which has received over $9 million from True Ventures, Foundry Group, MakerBot, and Google, is just this. It’s subtractive laser printing that cuts or engraves over a dozen different kinds of organic material like leather, fabric, acrylic, plywood, cardboard and even food–as opposed to adding layers of plastic. We briefly heard about the idea back in May, and it’s made some headway since!
The idea came from creative use of a laser at the home of Glowforge’s CEO and co-founder Dan Shapiro, who noted:
“When I got access to a laser, it changed the way my family and I thought about the things we use every day. My kids started asking me to make things instead of buy them, like costumes and furniture and birthday presents for their friends. But the laser was slow, hard to use, and far too dangerous for kids! I wanted one for my own home, and there were no affordable choices on the market.”
Two qualities drove the inspiration behind Glowforge: user-friendly and affordable. One way that Glowforge managed to make its printer more affordable is by placing its software in a cloud and making use of smartphone components.
Shapiro further explains:
“We quickly realized that we could use these technologies make Glowforge as intuitive and delightful to use as our favorite smart devices. Now, I see designers, artists, and creative people of every stripe walk up to a Glowforge, and make incredible ideas come to life.”
Glowforge can cut acrylic or metal up to 0.25 inches on one side; it has a maximum material size of 12″ x 20″ and a laser tube rating of 45W. It cuts organic materials and engraves stone, metal, and even consumer electronics. Also, it features WiFi, a laser distance scanner, dual cameras and doors, a removable tray, and a glass lid.
Other unique features (in addition to software in a cloud that works on many types of devices) include that the machine is able to scan materials to measure their height; it has autofocus that allows for precise 3D printed creations; it uses dual cameras to preview printed objects; it can trace figures to reproduce exact images; it can cut on both sides of material; and, for those who do not want to make their own designs, they provide a design catalog.
Does all of this sound enticing? The other good news is that Glowforge announced on September 24 that its printer would be available for a 50% reduced price of $1,995 for one more month. If you pre-order now, you get the good deal and the company will begin shipping the printer out at the end of 2015!
To find out more about how this sleekly designed laser printer works, and more about the company, you can check the website out here or watch the below video. Have you ordered this new machine? Let us know in the GlowForge Forum thread on 3DPB.com.