Though the industry has us distracted by all that amazing stuff we could (one day) print in 3D, we mustn't forget the amazing potential of some of the tools with which we're already familiar. The laser cutter is a fantastic example; it may require hours of cutting topography layer-by-layer and those finicky files may not always cut all the way through (argh!), but this machine has a bright future ahead of it as an amazing tool for both rapid prototyping and fabrication. Sure, it may not be the shiny new arm of the ever-surging technology beast, but it opens up opportunities that cannot be underestimated, especially as it becomes increasingly accessible.
Laser cutters are already fairly common tools in architecture schools and firms, but in the day-to-day practicality of churning out scale models it is easy to overlook the fun side. Sure, you could start cutting jewelry, cards or other silly trinkets like everyone else on Etsy...or you could try your hand at some less ornamental creations such as musical instruments, looms or records, like we've listed below. Most of the projects here are open source and come with cut files, so bonding time with your laser cutter will be a bit less stressful.
This amazing project by Amanda Ghassaei converts audio files into vector graphics that are then etched into wood. The resulting "records" can be played on an ordinary record player!
Not only can you laser cut yourself an instrument, but you can also laser cut yourself an instrument that is superior (at least in portability) to the original.
Bring back the golden age of simple machinery!
For those with a lot of free time on their hands.
(Lamp shades can also be fashioned from any architecture model you create—just stick a lightbulb inside and voilà.)
The fashion industry seems to love the laser cutter, and it applies to many niches—from making your own yarn to cutting decorative accents into already-completed pieces like the jacket below.
This gorgeous piece was designed by Elvira 't Hart, who laser cuts her clothing to emulate her rough sketching style. To start your own experimentation with laser cutters and clothing, check out this great tutorial for laser cut shirts.
So don't lie, you can already make a pretty killer model house with the laser cutter. Why let these skills go to waste when you could be building yourself a model house out of candy? Check out iconic examples of gingerbread architecture for inspiration (and also check out Falling Water, Frank Lloyd Wright's famous work in gingerbread form!).
Laser cutting food doesn't seem like the safest idea, but some people are really excited about it, using it on everything from sushi to pancakes—there are even examples of laser cut meat. What we'd really love to know is if anyone has hacked a laser cutter to make it actually cook the food.
For furniture projects, the database OpenDesk is an excellent tool. After the files are downloaded, the furniture can be made locally—or, now that you've become a master of your laser cutter, you could make them yourself.