18in x 32in x 0.5in
11.6in x 8in x 2.75in
∞in x ∞in
24in x ∞in
44in x ∞in
some plastics, wood
most plastics, wood, soft metals
some plastics, wood
vinyls, label paper
Inventables desktop CNC router
Shaper handheld CNC router
The Laser Cutter is a great prototyping tool because for most jobs the setup and run times are quick. Laser cutting can be used to cut out shapes or engrave the surface of a part. The main downsides of laser cutting is that only certain materials laser cut well (certain plastics and wood products) and the machine can only work with most materials up to a 1/2" thick at most.
As a tidy CNC router, the Carvey is a useful tool for fabricating things in a similar way to the laser cutter, with a few key differences. First, the Carvey can cut features in a part at different depths, going beyond the laser cutters ability to either cut all the way through or make shallow surface engravings. The carvey can also work with a wider variety of materials, as machining materials with a router bit does not release toxic gases or cause melting the way using a laser does. The tradeoffs are that the Carvey has a smaller work area, longer job times, and more complex parts can take longer to set up.
The Origin is a hand-held CNC router which allows the user to route precise cuts and features in sheet materials but with the portability and small form factor of a router. To use it, Shaper Tape markers are placed on the sheet, and then the Origin uses a camera to map the workspace. Vector artwork can be placed in the digital map of the workspace using the screen mounted on the device, and then when the user roughtly follows along the path displayed on the screen, the device corrects by making fine adjustments to the location of the router bit. In this way, Origin makes it easy to take complex computer generated artwork and turn it into a fabricated part!
The Vinyl Cutter is a CNC knife that allows you to cut out shapes in adhesive backed vinyl. This allows for creating stickers that can be used as graphics for detailing prototypes, making them look more like a finished product.
The Plotter is a large format inkjet printer that can be used to print out large graphics and photos. Often used for making posters and signs, the plotter can also be used to aid in prototying by printing out large plans and patterns for fabricating parts. The plotter can also be used to print out graphics for detailing a prototype, similar to how the vinyl cutter is used.
CNC Router: Often referred to by the common brand name ShopBot, a large format CNC router is capable of carving out complex 3D paths to make both flat sheet parts and three dimensional parts. There are several on campus, so if you'd like to use one for your prototype, please contact a member of the teaching staff so they can reach out to other lab spaces.
Waterjet Cutter: A waterjet works in a similar way as a laser cutter, but instead of using a laser beam, the waterjet cutters uses a high pressure stream of water carrying an abrasive. Waterjet cutters can cut through sheets of a variety of materials, including materials that are difficult to work with otherwise, such as metals like steel.