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Grad Student Invents Cheap Laser Cutter

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the frugal-cutting dept.

Hardware Hacking 137

An anonymous reader writes "Peter Jansen, a PhD student and member of the RepRap community, has constructed a working prototype of an inexpensive table-top laser cutter built out of old CD/DVD drives as an offshoot of his efforts to design an under $200 open-source Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printer. Where traditional laser cutters use powerful, fixed-focus beams, this new technique dynamically adjusts the focal point of the laser using a reciprocating motion similar to a reciprocating saw, allowing a far less powerful and inexpensive laser diode to be used. The technique is currently limited to cutting black materials to a depth of only a few millimeters, but should still be useful and enabling for Makers and other crafters. The end-goal is to create a hybrid inexpensive 3D printer that can be easily reconfigured for 2D laser cutting, providing powerful making tools to the desktop."

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fck yea. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33377188)

First post in 3D!!!

is it scalable ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33377206)

it could make a profit.

All in one Coppier,Printer, Fax, Scanner, Shredder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33377224)

Hope they have a 2nd confirm on the shred button.
This would make redacting existing or printing with redaction a little more holy too

First post

Re:All in one Coppier,Printer, Fax, Scanner, Shred (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33377268)

Thinking of all the possible office toner accidents where someone will loose a finger
Lawyer up
Profit!

Re:All in one Coppier,Printer, Fax, Scanner, Shred (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33377324)

How about a button to laser cut up and auto eject those pesky paper jams?

MOAR POWER! (1)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377228)

It would be cool to see this down with Bluray lasers instead of DVD, if only for the MORE POWER! effect.

Re:MOAR POWER! (1)

mpoulton (689851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377416)

This is not a DVD laser. It's a 1W infrared laser. That 3-4 times more power than a Bluray drive laser.

Re:MOAR POWER! (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377464)

Are blue lasers used in bluray actually more powerful? I was under impression that they just used shorter wavelength light to be able to pack more data into smaller size.

Re:MOAR POWER! (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377644)

Are blue lasers used in bluray actually more powerful?

I'm going to be up front and honest and tell you "I don't know". That said, I did see a video once where a guy took a blu-ray laser, macguyver'd it into a toy phaser pistol, and used it to pop black ballons.

Re:MOAR POWER! (5, Funny)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#33378406)

I'm going to be up front and honest and tell you "I don't know".

Ok, that's it. Please hand in your Slashdot ID on the way out...not knowing something is one thing, but actually admitting it?

Shame on you sir, shame on you.

Re:MOAR POWER! (1)

elewton (1743958) | more than 4 years ago | (#33378726)

I do that.

405nm diodes from the Xbox 360 can go up to around 120 mw. Diodes from a high speed Blu-Ray burner can reach up to 500 mw with a short life-span.

405nm and IR tend to be absorbed better than most of the visible spectrum.

Re:MOAR POWER! (3, Informative)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#33379074)

Yes, they are, as blue is a higher energy-potential.

200mW 405nm Laser vs 350mW 630nm laser - blue laser will win every time.

Re:MOAR POWER! (1)

rnturn (11092) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377870)

What! Millimeters?! Call me when we can build of these with a "Vaporize Bulldozer" setting.

Dual Use? (3, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377232)

The end-goal is to create a hybrid inexpensive 3D printer that can be easily reconfigured for 2D laser cutting, providing powerful making tools to the desktop

3D printer and a laser cutter? I'm no office machine expert but I don't think I want a printer capable of transforming into a laser cutter ... I've seen the Twilight Zone and this doesn't end well.

Re:Dual Use? (2, Funny)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377576)

I'm no office machine expert but I don't think I want a printer capable of transforming into a laser cutter

Not is Michael Bay is involved, anyway...

It will never sell. (5, Funny)

seeker_1us (1203072) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377246)

Why would anyone want to cut a laser?

Re:It will never sell. (5, Funny)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377300)

Why would anyone want to cut a laser?

So it'll fit better on small sharks?

Re:It will never sell. (-1, Troll)

jo42 (227475) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377590)

lasers...sharks

Another dumbtard geek/nerd meme that just refuses to die. Damn you Mike Myers!

Re:It will never sell. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33379118)

lasers...sharks

Another dumbtard geek/nerd meme that just refuses to die. Damn you Mike Myers!

KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not on male sharks (2, Funny)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#33379906)

The "smaller" the shark, the bigger the laser. Same as American males drive really big cars. It is called "compensating".

Re:It will never sell. (1)

Crippere (1825560) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377390)

More so, why would anyone want to cut cheap lasers? "Yo mama's so poor she has to -cut- her cheap lasers to get two"?

Yo mama (1)

Candyban (723804) | more than 4 years ago | (#33378494)

"Yo mama's so poor she has to -cut- her cheap lasers to get two"?

C'mon. You can do better than that:
Yo mama is so fat she needs a laser cutter to clip her nails.
Yo mama is so ugly the laser light tries to bend around her.
Yo mama is so poor she needs a laser to cut the last slice of bread.
Yo mama is so stupid she uses a laser to light the house.

Always remember the warning that is on the first page of the manual.
"DO NOT LOOK INTO LASER WITH REMAINING EYE"

Re:It will never sell. (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377526)

Because a laser makes a better straight man than a spirograph!

Re:It will never sell. (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377564)

Also, how many lasers could a laser-cutter cut, if a laser-cutter could cut lasers?

Re:It will never sell. (2, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377638)

don't be a dope, if you cut a laser, then you have two lasers.

Re:It will never sell. (3, Funny)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377676)

Well yeah, but they're each only half as long.

lasers, HOW DO THEY aw fuk it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33377774)

so the frequency is doubled? sweet...

Actually optical choppers are very useful (5, Interesting)

caseih (160668) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377642)

Warning: Science content.

Several labs in my Uni's Chemistry Department regularly employ LASER choppers, if not "cutters". Simply stick the disk with the slits you want (to set the pulse duration) in front of the laser and set the motor to the desired RPM. That's how they get he pulse durations and frequencies that they need for their experiments. One could also use liquid crystal to turn the beam on and off rapidly. Come to think of it, I have no idea how a CD or DVD burner controls its laser. Maybe the laser can be turned on and off fast enough.

Re:Actually optical choppers are very useful (4, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377844)

Come to think of it, I have no idea how a CD or DVD burner controls its laser. Maybe the laser can be turned on and off fast enough.

The laser is continuously* on and usually at a fixed distance.
The laser head can move up and down if it needs to change the focal length to try and re-read errors.

The spinning disc also provides the time + convection for heat to dissipate and not melt the plastic.

*or not depending on whatever caching mechanism the drive has...
which isn't the same thing as saying it can't be turned on/off rapidly, just that there's no need.

Re:Actually optical choppers are very useful (1)

willy_me (212994) | more than 4 years ago | (#33378602)

which isn't the same thing as saying it can't be turned on/off rapidly, just that there's no need.

For performing reads there would be no need to turn the laser on/off. But we are talking about CD/DVD burners so there is a need. The question remains, how do they do it?

Re:Actually optical choppers are very useful (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 4 years ago | (#33378986)

They switch the laser diode on and off in the same order as the 0's and 1's coming down the chute. : ) Transistors. Is there anything they can't do?

Re:Actually optical choppers are very useful (1)

rwiggers (1206310) | more than 4 years ago | (#33379284)

Laser diodes, used in CD/DVD/whatever have a terrible beam quality for cutting and a mostly inappropriate wavelength, but they can be switched on/off quite fast. Think of fiber optics...
Other techs may be pretty slow to turn on/off, but have quite good beam quality for cutting. The most widely used is CO2 laser for that, which can take from 100's of us to a couple ms to turn on/off. With these lasers it's faster to move it optically away with mirrors of defocussing with lenses.

Re:It will never sell. (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#33378134)

What else can you do if it isn't making the grade and refuses to put in enough practice to improve?

Re:It will never sell. (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#33379716)

Perhaps they are talking about cutting the light of the laser to a specific length. Presto light saber.

Interesting note (5, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377264)

His roommate's PhD project is the inexpensive cloning of sharks.

I'm not sure I like where this is headed.

Re:Interesting note (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377304)

Pfft, think bigger: If they can use the lasers to help incubate the shark eggs, and teach the sharks how to build more lasers, then they'll have a self hosting solution!

Re:Interesting note (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#33378268)

I'm really sure I like where it's headed.

I want it now, dammit! Screw those frickin' laws on endangered species.

As opposed to doers? (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377278)

I'm not sure I've ever heard the term Makers as used in this context. I was pretty much expecting to see Mark come after it, capitalized and everything.

Re:As opposed to doers? (1)

incubbus13 (1631009) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377292)

I couldn't figure out how a sandworm was going to use this thing. It's not ergonomically designed for 100' long, limbless users at all.

K.

Re:As opposed to doers? (4, Informative)

AdamHaun (43173) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377320)

It's a reference to the subculture embodied by this Make [makezine.com] .

Re:As opposed to doers? (2, Interesting)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377536)

And thus I have been informed. This is entirely news to me, and is certainly stuff that matters. My mind is whizzing with awesome ideas as a result.

Applause

Re:As opposed to doers? (2, Informative)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 4 years ago | (#33378402)

It's a reference to the MakerBot [makerbot.com] . It's a RepStrap, a way to build yourself a RepRap if you don't yet own a one. I've got one on my desk upstairs, waiting for a replacement thermistor for my extruder so I can start churning out parts for this one. [reprap.org]

The fact that you can get one in a kit form has spawned a whole host of different printable upgrades for the MakerBot. For example, there's a set of models up on thingiverse you can download and print that will let you mount a Dremel tool in place of the print head for light CNC work. I'm planning to try cutting circuit boards with it.

Re:As opposed to doers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33377578)

I'm not sure why "Makers" or "crafters" are referenced at all in the article's context. Can't plain ol' craftspeople, hobbyists, and, well, anyone with the inclination use these things as well? Or does one need special trendy skills, like smugness perhaps?

Re:As opposed to doers? (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 4 years ago | (#33379444)

You need a good helping of horn-rimmed glasses, and a fetish for Bruce Sterling.

Re:As opposed to doers? (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377636)

Who will eventually start suing anyone using the words "Make", "Maker", "Making" and "Made". I think you already have to write "Make(tm)". People who did this use to be "hackers" or "DIY-ers", but now this is catching on. The site/magazine already refers to anyone who creates/hacks anything as a "Maker", basically labeling them with their own trademark.

I wonder is this is even a defensible trademark. Will we need to start using "Creators" as an alternative? Also, isn't "The Maker" already kind of prior art?

Re:As opposed to doers? (3, Funny)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33378026)

Yeah Shai-Hulud's been around for a while.

Re:As opposed to doers? (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 4 years ago | (#33380500)

I've got my doubts that O'Reilly Media wants to kill off the subculture they have been trying to cultivate for the last 5 years.

Re:As opposed to doers? (2, Insightful)

KahabutDieDrake (1515139) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377336)

I don't know where they are sourcing that term, but "Maker" was used extensively by Orson Scott Card in the book 'seventh son'. I imagine it's a term they have adopted for use in the reprap community. Which makes sense, because it's highly applicable.

Re:As opposed to doers? (2, Insightful)

cmiller173 (641510) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377516)

see also: Cory Doctorow's novel Makers http://craphound.com/makers/download/ [craphound.com] Decent read for when you want to escape reality for a while. Download-able in 12+ formats no DRM.

Re:As opposed to doers? (1)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377668)

don't know where they are sourcing that term, but "Maker" was used extensively by Orson Scott Card in the book 'seventh son'.

Ah, tanj it. I read that series, and successfully blocked it from my consciousness until you mentioned it.

My first thought on reading about the "Maker" in the summary was Lois Lowry's The Giver... which apparently is only the first book of a trilogy. Who knew?

Re:As opposed to doers? (1)

JohnBailey (1092697) | more than 4 years ago | (#33378630)

I'm not sure I've ever heard the term Makers as used in this context. I was pretty much expecting to see Mark come after it, capitalized and everything.

It's quite common lately. Kind of like a more physical version of Hackers. Think of it as a collective term for people who make stuff for fun and perhaps a little profit rather than invent and patent and scream bloody murder if someone brings out something similar. Anything from knitted laptop covers to 3D printing and home CNC.

Re:As opposed to doers? (1)

PotatoFiend (1330299) | more than 4 years ago | (#33379744)

It's quite common lately. Kind of like a more physical version of Hackers. Think of it as a collective term for people who make stuff for fun and perhaps a little profit rather than invent and patent and scream bloody murder if someone brings out something similar. Anything from knitted laptop covers to 3D printing and home CNC.

How is that different from a "hobbyist"?

Re:As opposed to doers? (1)

M8e (1008767) | more than 4 years ago | (#33380282)

"hobbyist" is a broader term that also includes people that don't create stuff as an hobby. Like collecting things("collectors"), playing games("gamers?"), sports etc.

Re:As opposed to doers? (1)

PotatoFiend (1330299) | more than 4 years ago | (#33380532)

What about "craftsman," "craftswoman," and "craftspeople"?

Finally! (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377280)

Something cheap to cut off my relation!

Member of RepRap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33377284)

Fucking awesome. Awesome to the max.

WTF is RepRap?

Re:Member of RepRap? (1)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377352)

replicating rapid-prototyper (self replicating machine) - yeah, definitely needs a better name.

Re:Member of RepRap? (2, Funny)

santax (1541065) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377436)

Oh god, that really makes me think it isn't fit for my goal! Bad marketing indeed!

Re:Member of RepRap? (2, Funny)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377506)

That laser head starts rastering across the material fast enough it's just what the device sounds like: reprap,reprap,reprap,reprap.....

Re:Member of RepRap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33377996)

but it doesn't truly self-replicate considering all the electronic parts have to be added. It's a cheap plastic prototyper. Which is awesome in itself. I guess awesome to the max in itself. But self-replicating? No. I do agree it needs a better name. RepRap Replicating = Rep and Rapid = Rap but where's the prototyper? Maybe it should be RepRaPro? I don't know, but how is one supposed to get Replicating Rapid Prototyper out of RepRap? The "p" is lowercase followed by nothing. Not that it matters.

My main point is simply a very cheap rapid prototyper is quite a feat, but it seems they want more. This thing doesn't self replicate, because it doesn't replicate all the parts necessary and it doesn't assemble itself. Why minimize what you have done to claim an achievement you haven't?

Re:Member of RepRap? (2, Interesting)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 4 years ago | (#33378338)

Well, look what the ability to make hundreds of dies simultaneously on a wafer did for the semiconductor revolution. If one could make hundreds of small plastic custom parts at one time, it could enable small businesses to make things they otherwise couldn't do economically. I look at cheap Chinese products and ask, why make them over there and lug them thousands of miles at a cost of energy, when we could do short runs as needed here, locally and by American businesses. I have lots of things around the house that could have been made by a machine with this technology (layered up). By the way, let's extend the manufacturing principle to not just 2D axes but also rotational, as in what a lathe does but instead of removing material you add it to a rotated base. So for example you could make a cup on demand out of plastic beads fused together - which is just about what a styrofoam cup is.

Re:Member of RepRap? (2, Interesting)

JohnBailey (1092697) | more than 4 years ago | (#33378730)

Well, look what the ability to make hundreds of dies simultaneously on a wafer did for the semiconductor revolution. If one could make hundreds of small plastic custom parts at one time, it could enable small businesses to make things they otherwise couldn't do economically. I look at cheap Chinese products and ask, why make them over there and lug them thousands of miles at a cost of energy, when we could do short runs as needed here, locally and by American businesses. I have lots of things around the house that could have been made by a machine with this technology (layered up). By the way, let's extend the manufacturing principle to not just 2D axes but also rotational, as in what a lathe does but instead of removing material you add it to a rotated base. So for example you could make a cup on demand out of plastic beads fused together - which is just about what a styrofoam cup is.

Eventually perhaps. But right now, injection moulding and other similar techniques are more practical.To use your Styrofoam cup example. The cups take a fraction of a second with a mould. Pop two halves together, pump in the Styrofoam, dry, release. Easy and efficient. Thousands can be made in an hour. 3D object creation is in it's infancy right now. The hardware is expensive and still quite primitive, with a limited number of things it can use as a medium. In time.. Who knows. Making a cup with a 3D printer of any kind would be pretty slow. Fine for one cup, but not for mass production. Eventually it might be practical to have plastic printers/recyclers at home,and if you want a cup, print one in about 5 minutes, then if it breaks, recycle it into a new cup at home. Someone in the rep rap or maker-bot community is currently working on a plastic recycling unit that takes things like plastic milk bottles and shreds and melts them down, then extrudes a plastic filament that can be used in the 3D printer.

Re:Member of RepRap? (2, Interesting)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 4 years ago | (#33379124)

Sure, there are more efficient and practical ways but the point of personal manufacturing systems is to be able to make things yourself in small runs instead of depending on large-scale mass production manufacturers. If I have a home box that can make shoes, I might choose to pay a little more for raw materials but I gain the ability to be independent of a specific finished goods maker. Even it is slower than buying off the shelf and it takes two days to process, I don't care if it runs overnight and takes six different kind of plastic feedstock. Essentially it amounts having tiny elves in my cottage who magically make things at night without my doing it and without my depending on China and Walmart. But I understand your point about mass production and agree that one-offs are not always the perfect solution.

Re:Member of RepRap? (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#33381096)

I think the recycling thing is important. I was really tempted by something like the MakerBot or RepRap when I saw them at FOSDEM, but I knew that my house would quickly fill up with random plastic crap if I had one. On the other hand, if I could just dump stuff I was bored with back in the plastic reservoir and have it melted down for re-using in the next thing I wanted, that would be really great. I'd love, for example, to be able to fabricate the right number of plastic plates, knives, and forks for a picnic, then just wash them and melt them down after use. The same is true for a lot of kitchen things. I have a load of mixing bowls all in different sizes. Some of them only get used once or twice a year. They take up space all the time though. For things like jelly moulds, they'd be fantastic - you could print a new shape every time.

I was not aware what RepRap was (4, Informative)

cortesoft (1150075) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377308)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RepRap_Project [wikipedia.org]

Cool. I want a self replicating replicator!

Re:I was not aware what RepRap was (2, Interesting)

SheeEttin (899897) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377570)

Cool. I want a self replicating replicator!

Clearly, you have not watched your Stargate [wikia.com] .

Re:I was not aware what RepRap was (5, Funny)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377674)

I'm afraid your only choices are zero or infinite self-replicating replicators.

Re:I was not aware what RepRap was (1)

popeyethesailor (325796) | more than 4 years ago | (#33378532)

How many self-replicators would a self-replicator replicate if a self-replicator could replicate self-replicators?

Re:I was not aware what RepRap was (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33379176)

How many self-replicators would a self-replicator replicate if a self-replicator could replicate self-replicators?

Well... given infinite resources we know that we will eventually get infinite self-replicators. So if we have infinite self-replicators replicating, we can divide infinity(end product) by infinity(self-replicators making the end product) to see how much each one is making. So the answer is 1. Uhh... I think I'll stop doing math now.

Re:I was not aware what RepRap was (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33378918)

I've met the RepRap team and I can tell you the one thing they are best at (and it appears slashdot are helping them replicate) is hype and self publicity.

The RepRap machine is basically a cheap plastic printer / rapid prototyping machine which is an idea that's been around ... at least 10+ years before they started. The only component they can manufacture are the plastic bits. Have a look at the photo and see if you can spot the plastic bits. I'll give you a hint, they're not the metal frame, or the wooden base, or any of the active / electrical components. And it goes without saying that, ofcourse, you have to assemble the device it's "replicated". I recall someone asking them what percentage of the device they could 'replicate' and after lots of 'vision' and 'this has great potential' we eventually managed to get a figure of 10%.

Rapid prototyping machines you could build at home - kinda cool but not new. Calling it 'self replicating manufacturing' - shameless publicity whoring.

Re:I was not aware what RepRap was (1)

Y2KDragon (525979) | more than 4 years ago | (#33379310)

Didn't you watch Stargate SG-1? This too will end badly.

Public School shop classes. (4, Interesting)

FrameRotBlues (1082971) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377376)

IMHO, this is the kind of inventive tinkering that should be pushed forward in today's schools. It takes a lot of different skills from across several disciplines to be able to crank something like this out, but once you see it, you realize how simple it really is. It takes imagination and perseverance as well, and that's hard to teach.

I don't mean to start a "Public schools are apathizing our youth!" thread, but I wonder how many kids would really enjoy classes geared towards making useful projects out of surplus crap - a combining of wood shop, metal shop, and electronics classes.

Re:Public School shop classes. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33377434)

Mod parent all the way up.

Re:Public School shop classes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33377514)

High school shop classes have to deal with 80-90% 'thickies' who are a danger to themselves and others. Also they have to deal with children --- as a group of some thirty kids -- who each have likely never used anything more complicated than a butter knife, and make sure they don't get injured.

Face it, the 10-20% of keen kids that you can really do something with are going to pick up more skills faster from YouTube. High school shop isn't what you're looking for. By necessity the school has got to gear to the slowest.

Re:Public School shop classes. (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377904)

By necessity the school has got to gear to the slowest.

      And that's where everything starts to go wrong. Instead of encouraging the stragglers to catch up, everyone is forced to slow down. In this environment not one slow-poke will make an extra effort - why should he? Whereas more than one above average intelligence student will get frustrated and/or bored and stop paying attention. Only the truly gifted come through such a process unscathed - but because they don't need "school" anyway. Put them next to a pile of books and provide a mentor to answer the occasional question, and they're fine in ANY environment. They live for learning and you can't take it from them.

Re:Public School shop classes. (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#33378510)

I believe this is the point where I thank my luck for growing up in a country where kids are split up for different kinds of highschool based on intelligence and natural aptitude at the age of 12....

I think that having to spend time in a class that still includes the morons and the hopeless till the age of 16 would be sufficient grounds for justified homi/suicide.

Re:Public School shop classes. (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#33378568)

It was simple - we finished our stuff and made ninja stars until the other kids caught up.

Re:Public School shop classes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33379170)

It was simple - we finished our stuff and made ninja stars until the other kids caught up.

Did we go to the same school?
I recall the teacher being none too happy when he discovered what our "decorative metal stars" really were.

Re:Public School shop classes. (2, Insightful)

spopepro (1302967) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377748)

I completely agree with everything you are saying. It would work great if our schools were populated with slashdot type students. Unfortunately, reality is otherwise. I think if you spent some time in schools you would be shocked at how apathetic they are when we get 'em.

However, I do think there is a serious problem with the direction schools are going with the use and teaching of technology. The emphasis has been on acquiring more and more computer workstations. Tech education now consists of word, powerpoint, and internet searches. Somewhere we (educators) need to turn it around and start doing better than just training end users.

Re:Public School shop classes. (1)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | more than 4 years ago | (#33378776)

IMHO, this is the kind of inventive tinkering that should be pushed forward in today's schools.

What?! And raise another generation of techies to be pushed around by mediocre managers' sneers? I say leave these things to people that can't help themselves. Like us on /.

Luckily my kids have no true feeling with tech and/or IT. One trap I fell in which they won't. I hope that whatever they'll do, they'll do well.

Re:Public School shop classes. (1)

Methuselus (1011511) | more than 4 years ago | (#33379316)

The words 'public school', where I'm from, are synonymous with very intelligent or highly capable, upper middle-class to stinking rich, right up to people with title and land.

Re:Public School shop classes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33380976)

The words 'public school', where I'm from, are synonymous with very intelligent or highly capable, upper middle-class to stinking rich, right up to people with title and land.

In the US, public schools (publicly funded) are what the UK calls "state schools"; the UK's "public schools" (fee-paying) are here called "private schools". Which actually makes sense.

Re:Public School shop classes. (1)

Gnaythan1 (214245) | more than 4 years ago | (#33380658)

Along with high school shop classes, I want one of THESE in every town.

http://techshop.ws/ [techshop.ws]

If there was one close enough (North of Seattle) I'd be there daily.

Where can we get cheap sharks to go with this? (2, Funny)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377388)

Where can we get cheap sharks to go with this?

develop != invent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33377432)

So the guy took a laser, and made a laser? Umm no The laser has already been invented. What this guy did was engineer a low cost solution to a process that already existed.

Teak Etching! (2, Interesting)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377460)

If Teak (Tectona) is dark enough, it could be used to make awesome etchings for paperweights and other cool knickknacks.

ahem (2, Insightful)

bakamorgan (1854434) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377546)

I shall repeat what a wise man said at one time. "I want sharks with freakin lazer beams on their heads!!!!!" Now make it happen. or maybe some triceratops with nightvison goggles with laser guns on the side.

Re:ahem (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#33378830)

Apparently what you want is a juvenile Torosaurus [bbc.co.uk] .

I'll be impressed (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33377548)

when the thing can cut through the fruitcake I got last Christmas

Re:I'll be impressed (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377918)

If Star Wars was real, the Death Star couldn't cut through the fruit cake you got last Christmas. You might as well try to hit a major league slider with a stick of French bread.

Re:I'll be impressed (1)

only_human (761334) | more than 4 years ago | (#33378376)

Clearly then, we need to line our ICBMs with fruit cake. I knew that stuff was tough.

Cloth? (3, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377588)

Seriously, something like this could cut patterns CHEAPLY on cloth. Think of it as a stamping machine.

Re:Cloth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33377790)

Or vinyl records!

Stupid question (1)

lightspeedius (263290) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377936)

What's "making" in this context?

Expression Fail! (1)

anglophobe_0 (1383785) | more than 4 years ago | (#33377980)

Come on, nobody else picked up on the phrase, "allowing a far less ... inexpensive laser diode to be used."? Think about it.

This is NOT news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33378680)

Ok, pretending this is NOT slashdot... but really, this is not news.

DIY lasercutters with blue-ray and DVD-lasers have been around (for example on youtube) for years.

In all honesty: I assumed all geeks worth that expression would have known for a long time.

Alright!!! (2, Interesting)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 4 years ago | (#33379760)

Ok, so when this becomes cheap enough to replace all lasers used to correct vision, instead of thousands of dollars, we would be talking about hundreds...cool

Surely... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33380894)

... he doesn't expect us to talk?

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