New Laser Cutter Project 2014

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New Laser cutter Project 2014.

Who is running this?

Andrew Armstrong is running this and is contactable via. the Nottighack mailing list or his talk page.

Pledge Drive

See the Pledge Drive subpage.


Proposal Results

No contest on the choice of laser or initial cost, however some discussion on additional power and parts:

  • Scheduling was raised commonly as a way to share the laser at peak times (various methods, can be decided later)
  • 80W laser or higher power? Higher power one costs more but can cut thicker things
  • Other parts can be bought with more then the required amount to buy

The options for paying (1,2,3) were almost all set on option 1:

  • £3/hour commonly was said to be a good price
    • Note: London estimated £4.30 operating/replacement costs for theirs, so made it an even £6
    • Note: It was raised
  • A few mentioned paying at cost (£1/hour) would be more ethical
  • Option 2 (and 3) were less popular since it'd remove incentive to pledge to get time back on the laser

Additional comments:

  • Existing people who are inducted can be re-inducted over a weekend with Dominic
  • Some more figures needed to finalise costs from Martin and Dominic, for say, stretch goals; these are not important to base pledge of £4000 however
  • Raised in meeting: Pledge drive will have laser cutter time back at the amount they pledge - this means £30 for the pledge means £30 worth of laser time for free (of course optional).

Dates proposed:

  • 5th of February, start of pledge drive - no money being paid however, only what people will want to pay
  • 19th of February, check for end of pledge drive initially
  • Meeting 19th of February to discuss situation of the pledges, and discuss what to do (and sort logistics; getting pledges in and then buying).


(Sent to members 22nd of January)

We had the meeting tonight about the buying of a new laser cutter. This included a discussion on what to purchase, how it will be paid for and how then it will be used when installed.

I need comments on all of these items; I will be taking abstentions (ie; no comment) as a general "that's fine". I'll be stating my tacit default if no one responds (see point 3). I'd prefer lots of healthy discussion or opinions rather then silence though :) The meeting notes are here for anyone interested:

1. Which Laser will we get?

Dominic and Martin has a lower-cost alternative to HPC for a large A0, 1200x900 cutting area laser. This cost is £4000, alternatives I found cost £6,250+. Fuller details on what is included is here:

The main benefits of this over the current one is that it has a very large size, has better software - which also allows the software to be used outside of the machine running the laser, and should be easier to use with some more advanced features too.

Please note that several things in that document were considered for the meeting mentioned in other sections. One in this section is that shipping perhaps should be paid for by the Hackspace (or by the pledge drive going over), and also initial spare parts are cheaper so the Hackspace may purchase some for future maintenance use (again if the pledge drive goes over this might cover them). In addition we have no discussion on if the current laser will stay and be paid for separately as mentioned in the document since the chiller could run two, however the option is also there to buy a second one in the future.

2. How will it be bought?

The main method will have to be a pledge drive from members. The cost is £4000, and will need to be collected before the machine is purchased.

It will be discussed if the money has not been reached what will happen to the project. If the Hackspace general funds are put into the pledge money, it might affect the usage of the machine (as below).

3. How will it be used and maintained?

We had a good discussion on how it was to be used, the main 3 ways, with varying details in each. Before I begin the maintenance was estimated at:

  • 1200 hour laser tube plus mirrors (perhaps 12 months use) - £450
  • Power supply (fails less often so perhaps 24 months) - £250
  • Per year this is £575.
  • = Roughly 50p per hour (0.48p) upkeep costs

This ignores electricity and other things covered by general members fees, costs of parts are the higher estimates. For members who don't know/want a comparison, we pay roughly £12,000 a year in rent/associated bills. Methods of using the Laser could be:

1. Pay to use

  • £1 for 20 minutes was the main suggested price (£3/hour, so half the cost of the current £6/hour) since we'd still make £2.50 or so "profit" per hour. Could be as low as 60p per hour to cover costs as above (to allow 10 minute intervals of 10p each). Notably London Hackspace recently set theirs at £6/hour.
  • Less actual laser time is needed since software to set up layout would be available away from laser
  • Does lock out some users from using it much, if at all, simply because it is being charged for
  • Allows people who pledged to get laser time at this cost (donate £30 would give you 10 hours for instance). Note however this reduces (depending on estimates, drastically) the amount people will be paying in usage costs directly in the first year or so.
  • Price could change in the future depending on feedback/what money comes in/usage of the machine (eg; if people start paying less in fees, or feel it is too cheap even - especially if people are making things to sell on it and taking all the time). Money raised through this would go back into the Hackspace as discussed in point 4.

2. Membership fees pays maintenance

  • Hackspace subsidises maintenance of the £575/year from membership fees since this is not a huge amount for a machine that will be heavily used
  • Allows all users in the space to use the machine like any other tool
  • May mean overcrowding of the machine, which would be dealt with by scheduling
  • Honesty system however; members who use it would be expected to increase their payment to cover the costs. Notably this honour system may be an issue since it is a big black box (no one knows what value the hackspace is worth from hearsay!) and really hard to get people to change at all (up or down) due to many factors including the simple hassle of bank account transfers.
  • No "reward" for pledge money given may put people off pledging at all

3. Mixture of both

  • Allow the payment-at-laser option and the pay-by-my-fees option
  • Still very honour based; problems as above
  • Allows broader access and many would still pay to use on top of higher fees
  • No "reward" for pledge money given may put people off pledging at all; although they could feel justified not raising their fees or paying per use (little way to track this however).

My opinion: The default for me is tending towards option 1 with a £3 or lower cost, to have funds put back into the space to buy new things but also make sure the pledge drive succeeds since pledge people would get their time back in laser time.

We did not discuss inductions; this can be discussed later and won't affect any of the above much, since everyone will need an induction again anyway. It might be we include cheaper or free inductions for pledge people or something.

4. After the laser is bought?

We briefly discussed usage patterns - if the laser is popular, certainly a second (smaller?) laser might be needed or some scheduling time for the laser might be required since most people are busy at work Monday through Friday.

If any money is made from the laser it was discussed putting this back directly into the space in many ways, these are up to members in the future, but I would hope it would be new things and not for paying general rent and upkeep or just for saving since it would potentially be a volatile source of money.

5. Timeframe

The plan is:

  • This comment thread will end and I'll produce some results at midday on February 5th.
  • These results will be presented to the members meeting that evening briefly (no discussions then however)
  • Pledge drive will start for an appropriate time that evening, perhaps 2 weeks
  • Pledge results will be determined, then if it is a success the money will need to be collected quickly, perhaps 2 weeks.
  • Money then can be used to purchase the laser and some spare supplies, delivery can be confirmed, this I don't have an estimate for.

I will help coordinate all of this with the various members who deal with finances since the money needs to be transferred into the Hackspace bank account as quickly as possible (eg; if you want to donate cash, I'll have set times to collect it or volunteers to collect it ASAP).

6. Anything else?

I have listed the main things but is there anything else I missed? Please say! remember I'll stop reading this on midday on February 5th.

I realise not everyone is on the mailing list; please pass this email to anyone you want who is a member. I will be happy to take comments in person in consideration and if people want a discussion about these proposals I can organise a night to do it before the meeting.