Dremel is coming out with a new laser cutter, called DigiLab.
They’re also coming out with a new 3rd-generation 3D printer that has a heated base and new heating element for working with ABS and other filaments their current 3D printer isn’t quite ideal for.
The best thing about this new laser cutter is that it’s compatible with all Dremel corded and cordless rotary tools! Just kidding. It’s a multi-thousand dollar machine that requires AC power, a few square feet of desktop or shelf space, and either a vent to the outside or a laser cutter fume extractor.
There are a few things I learned about the new Dremel laser cutter at a recent Maker Faire where it was debuted. Perhaps most importantly, it’s going to cost several thousand dollars, and is expected out in Summer 2018.
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Although it’s going to cost a fair bit of coin, it’s expected to cost significantly less than Epilog’s smallest laser cutter, the Zing 16. The last I checked, the Zing 16 was priced at $8K or so. Dremel engineers and product managers all had different things to say about the price, but I believe they’re aiming for a $5K-6K target.
One Dremel associate I spoke to had the impression that the cheapest laser cutter on the market costs $20,000. In addition to the Epilog Zing, there are several newer brands on the market with machines in the 4-figure price range. In doing some research for this post, I noticed that Laguna, a woodworking brand, has a laser cutter out now too.
The Dremel DigiLab can cut through acrylic, wood, and other typical laser-cuttable sheet materials. It can also etch a range of materials too. I asked about aluminum, and was told it cannot etch aluminum, but can remove the oxide layer, seemingly giving it a more subtle but still defined marking. Maybe they meant that it couldn’t engrave aluminum?
The Dremel DigiLab laser cutter was co-developed with a partner for optimum reliability and user experience.
(It looks to me that the Dremel DigiLab is adapted from the Full Spectrum Laser (FSL) Muse.)
Dremel associates spent a lot of time discussing how the laser cutter will be UL-approval, and that they actually worked with UL to work out a safety standard for laser cutters.
I was given the impression that this actually took a LOT of work to do.
The Dremel laser cutter will have WiFi and LAN network connections, and can be connected directly to a computer. In other, it’s not Cloud-dependent, the software and controls are run locally.
Dremel has also partnered with Bofa, a fume extractor brand, to offer a suitable exhaust air filter product for customers purchasing the DigiLab laser cutter.
There are several laser cutter brands that have been gaining sales and reputation in the ~$6,000 and less price range. Does Dremel have what it takes to become a strong name in laser cutters?
With their third 3D printer on the way, they’re not exactly new to the digital fabrication scene.
But what remains unclear is how much “Dremel” is in these types of products. The FSL Muse, which I believe the Dremel DigiLab to be based on, is said to be FSL’s 6th generation “hobby laser.” That’s a bit of good news, that the Dremel laser cutter is based on several generations of laser cutter design and engineering experience.
That the Dremel laser cutter will cost several thousand dollars is expected, but still disappointing. There’s no Makerspace, Hackerspace, or other such shared workshop space near me. And even if there were, I lack the time to do everything I need or want to in my own workspace, let alone travel elsewhere.
3D printers are costing more and more, as brands realize that only a select few can spare the time to work on their machines, rather than with them.
I’m happy to see Dremel enter new digital fab territory, but would be happier to see the technology scaled down to a price I can more easily afford, or at least justify. Barring that, I’d like to see major brands bring these machines to businesses and libraries near me.
If I can’t afford a laser cutter – or even if I could, but cannot justify buying one – the next best thing would be for local access to one. But that’s up to Dremel and other machine brands, and businesses such as The UPS Store and FedEx.
When is Dremel going to finally come out with a CNC mill or router? *wink*