A few years back - quite a few, in fact - in late 2015, I purchased a laser. As it turned out, I didn’t get my laser until well into 2018, and I’m still waiting on the air filter I purchased. The laser I purchased was a Glowforge which was sold initially via crowdfunding and ended up making something like $27 million during that initial sale.
Now you can buy them on Amazon and they are available generally within a week or two of purchase. Speaking of purchase, if you decide you’d like to buy one, click my link above and you can save $500 off a Pro, or $250 off a Plus or $100 off of a Basic model.
I picked up a Pro and I’ve been quite happy with it. The Pro has a bit of a stronger laser (45 watt vs 40 watt) as well as a pass-through slot and improved cooling. The plus has the stronger laser but no pass-through and I think normal cooling. The basic has the 40 watt laser and normal cooling and no pass-through.
So here’s what I got by going pro - the stronger laser means that I can do some cuts that can’t be done with a weaker laser, or I can do some cuts and engraves at a higher speed than with the 40W laser. With the improved cooling, I should be able to run the laser in a slightly higher ambient temperature and for more intense jobs without needing to pause to allow the laser to cool down. With the pass-through, I should be able to cut materials that are larger than the bed by sliding the boards through a little flap in the front and back of the machine. I haven’t used it for anything serious so far, but a few people in the forums have had good success.
As far as what I’ve made so far, I’ve made a bunch of leather card holders, some dice towers, some mirrors and acrylic medallions, wooden crochet hook business cards, some engraved cutting boards, stencils for touch-sensitive Star Wars wall paint, custom tile coasters, engraved pencils, puzzles, and a set of platonic solids. There are a bunch of other things I’ve made too, and a lot more I want to do.
In short, having a laser that can cut wood and leather and acrylic (and other stuff), and engrave on all sorts of things is great. I’ll write more about my experience and projects with it later, but if you have an interest, and can afford it, and have a good way to vent out the smoke (apartment dwellers probably want to do some extensive research), then I cannot recommend one highly enough.
If you have any questions about the benefits or challenges of owning a laser, please feel free to email me. Or if you want to buy your own, here’s that link to buy your own Glowforge again.