Glowforge 3D laser printer turns your desk into a factory

3D printing but not as we know it

For some years now, 3D printing has threatened to usher in a manufacturing revolution where we're all printing our knick-knacks and replacement parts rather than ordering them from Amazon.

That hasn't quite happened yet but Glowforge wants to help inventors and creatives make their own products at home: it's an innovative 3D laser cutter that costs much less than existing laser machinery does.

To be clear, this cuts and etches rather than adding layers like a traditional 3D printer does. You put in your material - wood, acrylic, cardboard and so on - and the Glowforge cuts out your shapes.

Cutting and etching

You can do anything from etch a design into the lid of your Macbook Pro to make a wooden candle holder to sell on Etsy. It's been designed to be easy to operate via mobile apps and desktop software too, so you don't necessarily need any technical know-how to be able to use it.

It's not tiny but the Glowforge is much smaller and much cheaper than comparable kit that would do the same job on a factory floor. By using smartphone components and offloading a lot of the computing to the cloud, its makers have been able to keep costs down.

For the next month you can preorder the basic Glowforge for US$1,995 (roughly £1,310/AUS$2,850), which is 50 percent off. A Pro model with a more powerful laser is available too for twice the price.