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Laser cutting

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Hi Guys,

Obviously there are hundreds of companies who CAN do laser/waterjet cutting of a new frame from acrylic

or whatever. So I dont need anyone to teach me how to type "laser-cutting" into Google...

The question is, has anyone had a frame laser cut, and if so:

1) Did it actually fit together properly ? (so did it fit was well as the original wooden frame?)

2) how much did it cost ?

3) Which company did it?

Many thanks


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While not personally, I've seen a bunch of acrylic Ultimakers.

1) Yes. But see: *

2) Acrylic at protospace costs 22.50 per kilo, the Ultimaker in Acrylic is atleast 10 kg. So I would guess 225 euro at least. But that's just a guess based on a single price and a guess of the weight.

3) The ones that I know where cut at Protospace Fablab.

*) Acrylic is more fragile then wood. You should contact Jelle (JelleAtProtospace on thingiverse) for updated drawings, he changed a few things so it doesn't break as easy. But the sliderblocks remain fragile. The extruder drive is the part that will break, so Jelle made it stronger.

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I was quoted $175-200 (material included) at some local shops (west coast USA) for cutting out the UM frame from 6mm & 4mm plywood. I got a test cut and the tabbed joints fit fine.

I didn't ask how much the plywood cost. But I know that plain acrylic sheet 1/4" thick is around $10-15 per sq foot, not sure how much you need for an UM offhand. I didn't find any place locally stocking metric-sized acrylic though. I'm not certain if 1/4" (6.35mm) is close enough to 6mm for everything to work perfectly... I think it would need some tweaking. And for the 4mm parts, locally it's only 3/16" (4.76mm) or 1/8" (3.18mm) available neither of which seem close enough to me.

Polycarbonate would make a more awesome Ultimaker than acrylic and is way less fragile, and cost is a bit more expensive but comparable. Not too many places will lasercut PC at least not in 6mm thick. And the cut edge will be bad. Waterjet cuts PC easily though it leaves a frosted edge.

Garolite (phenolic) could be really awesome looking, it's available in all kinds of colors and textures. But again not many places will laser cut it, waterjet is fine.

Too bad we don't have an opensource waterjet project !

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One thing that I noticed on the laser cut items of the UM is that there are places where a degree of interference fit is used on purpose. The degree of interference that should be used varies by materials employed, so I would be a bit wary of the situation. Also where fits like these are involved (note I haven't done a UM myself) usually there is a degree of dimensional tweaking involved to suit the performance of the particular laser cutter that you actually use, to ensure that the fit is the correct dimensions.

So if you are entertaining acrylic or a similar plastic material then I would definitely suggest trying to get some tweaked laser cut drawings as a starting point. And be prepared to get out the file/knife/CAD to do mods to make it work.

Also Acrylic usually is not considered an engineering plastic and isn't sold as such. There are many details such as water ingress, creep etc. which aren't completely characterised in the commodity acrylic that places will be using.

Also acrylic gives horrible creaking noises when moved together in contact. Though usually Acrylic is bonded using a solvent cement and not left as a tabbed attachment (in commecial settings usually acrylic fitments aren't tabbed at all though)

(Just for laughs go to a place that does metal laser cutting and get an Aluminium (5083 or something like that) cut quoted too - you might be surprised by the price...)

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