Everybody likes 3D printing, right? But it’s slow compared to 2D laser cutting. If only there were a way to combine multiple 2D slices into a 3D model. OK, we know that you’re already doing it by hand with glue and/or joints. But where’s the fun in that?
LaserStacker automates the whole procedure for you. They’ve tweaked their laser cutter settings to allow not just cutting but also welding of acrylic. This lets them build up 3D objects out of acrylic slices with no human intervention by first making a cutting pass at one depth and then selectively re-welding together at another. And they’ve also built up some software, along with a library of functional elements, that makes designing these sort of parts easier.
There’s hardly any detail on their website about how it works, so you’ll have to watch the video below the break and make some educated guesses. It looks like they raise the cutter head upwards to make the welding passes, probably spreading the beam out a bit. Do they also run it at lower power, or slower? We demand details!
Anyway, check out the demo video at 3:30 where they run through the slice-to-depth and heal modes through their paces. It’s pretty impressive.
There are going to be all sorts of limitations to this procedure that we haven’t quite thought through yet. Overhangs, for instance, require cutting to depth and then healing the top layer. It’s going to be weaker (they demo that in the video) but how much does this matter? And how will it look? Anyway, the idea is out there to be played around with.
There are other ways to make 3D objects on a laser cutter, naturally. You can assemble parts with box joints or, if you’re up for a challenge, add a rotational axis to your existing cutter. But for simple, blocky 3D forms we think the cut-and-weld method holds a lot of promise.
Thanks [Morris] for the tip!