Monday, December 8, 2014

Laser Cutter Map - Make Your Own Core Kits

When I started the cardboard surfboard project, it seemed pretty hard to find a local, publicly available laser cutter. I wanted to find a place where I could just show up with my files, pay a fee, maybe get a little training on the laser, and then cut my own kit, like I might make my own magazine at a copy shop.

Those places now exist. The global rise of hackerspaces, Fab Labs and the Maker Movement have done a pretty good job of bringing lasers and other great tools out into the community.

One reason I got into selling the cardboard surfboard core kits - and kept selling even after I started releasing cut pattern files - was that I thought it might be too hard for people to find local lasers. It's no longer hard. I made a map. At the very least, you have a public laser on your continent. Likely there's one in your nearest big city.

public laser cutter map

(Four millimeter thick cardboard should be way easier to find. Just google "packaging supplies your town name" and you'll likely get a mix of stores catering to businesses and people moving house. Or scout out some rubbish bins.)

If I can find as many public lasers as I have just by poking around a few websites, you can probably turn up even more in your own locale. While public laser cutters aren't yet as ubiquitous as copy machines, they're spread out enough that I don't need to be the sole global supplier of core kits anymore. So I'm getting out of that business.

In fact I've shut down the business part of the surfboard project altogether. It served a good purpose there for a while. It let me ship a bunch of kits and stay right with the tax man. The business served the greater project, and not the other way around. Success. But glad to put that tool away when it's no longer needed.

I'm still filling out the laser map. I focused on Australia first, because the Smorgasboarder Magazine coming out in December has a feature on this project. Hope you guys can hook up with your hackerspaces there and get some kits made. Also got several California lasers on the map, but there are probably more to be discovered. Europe, East Coast, South Africa get attention next. If you know of a public laser cutter or good cardboard supplier that should be on there, send me the info.


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