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.
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*
Was there any mention of maximum working dimensions?
40W, 20″ x 12″.
3/8″ max thickness for wood
1/4″ for acrylic
I figured I’d add it in if anyone asked. I also have a bunch of photos that I can process for a follow-up if there’s enough interest.
David R Zeller
Yes, please. Give us all you’ve got info-wise. I am just looking at lasers and am interested in all you know.
I have found that Dremel does nothing well except their traditional tools. Their Rotary Tools, MotoSaw, Versatip (Butane AND Electric), as well as engraver, sharpening station, and a few variants on specialized Rotary tools like Pumpkin Carver and Pet-Nail Groomer.
To be perfectly honest, they have never done a 3D Printer WELL, and can’t really compete on these kinds of new industry tools. They’re trying, but if you’re going to be laser-cutting, go for someone who IS in the multi-thousand dollar range and let Dremel fail this tool like they did the 3D Printer. This is my personal opinion, yes, but Dremel needs to stop trying to make other people’s tools, and stick to the ones they are genuinely #1 at. And for the love of all things sacred in this world, get Bosch to keep their Saws and Oscillating tools to THEMSELVES, and stop polluting Dremel’s brand with their throwaways.
This laser cutter is no different, in my eyes. It’s a Dremel-Branded attempt at someone else’s tool, and it isn’t going to do things right, just cheaper. Playing on the Dremel name to dupe hobbyists into going a place they shouldn’t go.
That Dremel spent what was surely an absolute fortune to get this UL listed tells you right off the bat it is not intended for a hobbyist.
So basically for that price you are getting the Dremel brand. Glowforge recently started shipping at $2995 for the same specs. A cheap china K40 is under $500. I have a feeling this market is headed down and this may be too little too late.
I assume Dremel will offer much better support and software than a K40, though. I’ve worked on some cheap Chinese machines and even a massive Chinese 100w laser, and the software is so terrible, it makes it incredibly frustrating.
Glowforge on the other hand is incredibly exciting. If they actually start shipping these things out (I was a kickstarter backer and my name is still so far down the list I’ll be lucky to get one next year), they could be great. The accuracy on the the ones I’ve seen has been hit and miss, but it mostly seems like software tuning is needed and not a hardware issue.
Latest status says everything from crowd funding will ship within October. Let us know how it goes in the forums. The people who have received theirs seem very happy.
The removable floor feature (assuming that Dremel keeps that characteristic from the FSL Muse) is great UNTIL the drive belt breaks, then you have an even higher probability of fire from an unattended unit. Even with a floor, the risk of fire from an unattended unit (after the drive belt breaks) is significant… onve the cost comes down, it’s going to remain the Achilles heel of home adoption for laser engravers.
I’m still surprised that Dremel hasn’t released a relatively cheap CNC frame that’s meant to load a Dremel rotary tool in as the router. They used to (1970’s and 80’s marketing) make such a big deal of the accessory lines that this seems like a natural fit. I still have a 70’s vintage Dremel scrollsaw and it was obvious that the goal was to sell accessories as much as the tool itself. In the 80’s, most of the Dremel ads I remember were for the drill press frame and router bases that were add-ons for the rotary tool. So why no CNC, Dremel?
Why no Dremel CNC yet?
That’s a good question that I also asked. I believe it was the digital fabrication team leader that I spoke with, and he gave me a very thorough explanation.
In short, they have limited resources and prioritized development of tools they considered would answer greater needs. First came the 3D printers, now the laser cutter.
Assuming that they are working on a CNC mill or router machine at the moment, they will continue development until they get it right.
Dremel’s focus seems to be on reliability and user experience.
3D printing has a learning curve, but “additive” is easier than “subtractive.” With subtractive tools, 2D is easier than 3D.
There’s a lot more to work on when it comes to creating a good user experience when it comes to CNC cutting machines.
Why not Dremel-made spindles or rotary tool adapters? I don’t remember the answer to this one.
I was looking into a Universal Laser System (VLS3.50)..its 50W and same table dim. However, its priced around $15K (not including “spare CO2 Laser tube” and other necessities left out..like finer-focus lens, automation features, full-feature control panel, materials database subscription, gas assist to cool/clear laser, Air filtration, onboard air handling, etc ). I wanted to engrave tools and cut stencils for painting.
I figure the Dremel would have to be $8999 to compete and take ULS to task. But CO2 lasers are consumables. And also you need filtration. I can’t see the permission to allow “ablated” materials in the micron size particulates to be vented “outside”. Especially when you are talking ablation of different materials (that chemically change under heat).
We had one of the first film lasers used for making plates in printing. The system had a filtration system down to microns. And the filter-trap needed replacement after hours of material removal (varied on workload).
Not to scare folks but when it comes to laser ablation…we are talking nano-sized particulates…the good news is, most respirator masks do a good job stopping them. But I wouldn’t feel right venting it out to my yard or neighbors.
I can’t edit, but it should be nano, not micron sized. The older model at work, we were told, was micron size. But I realized, its much smaller. Atleast the guy that serviced the unit wore a respiratory mask (nose/mouth, N100).
if you want to cut stencils for painting, for less than a couple hundred bucks you can get a cheap vinyl cutter (silhouette etc)
if it cost over $3500. its not a hobby machine
i have a cnc router from shapeoko , works great
i build model rc airplanes as a hobby// but really want a laser
looks like its going to be a ways off
How come nobody is considering the Boss LS 1416 or 1620? The price is great, it seems to be an industrial machine even though it’s a Chinese laser, the tech support is local and appears to be great. please give me your thoughts, I have been considering a Boss laser (in addition to a smaller desktop Dremel type laser) as my top choice but need advise as I am new to the maker space. I will be making picture frames and mostly one off custom photo etchings and a few mass produced items.
I am not familiar with Boss, but their marketing makes me a little nervous. Looking at the LS-1416, it’s described as a hobby laser, and as an entry-level. Sometimes “hobby” means ” you’ll need to tinker with it to make it work” or “compromised with many features stripped-away for lower pricing.”
There seems to be some useful commentary here: https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?225287-Boss-Laser-or-FSL-(-full-spectrum-laser-) It’s a few years old, but has some good details and comments about Boss and FSL to springboard from.
With the Dremel laser, they seem to be striving at providing a level of support that can support individuals as well as institutional and educational users.
With what I’ve seen and read over the years, I think I’d look at FSL as the budget pick, maybe Boss if I learned more about them, Dremel as the “budget but hopefully better supported” pick, and Epilog Zing as a no-compromise machine, especially if it will be used to make sellable products.
I am interested in this machine. I have 4 yrs experience with an Epilog 30watt that an acquaintance bought and i was helping her learn to run. I am a graphic designer by trade, and it works in conjunction with Adobe software and CorelDraw. Loved the machine, great customer service, a workhorse, but…… $14k. She moved, and I am researching machines that are more affordable AND work well to purchase myself. Hope to see this at a trade show soon.