Purchase Proposal Development - Laser Cutter Extreme!

Proposal Type:

Laser maintenance team


I write on behalf of the laser maintenance team.

We would like to propose a new laser cutter for the space. Due to the cost, we are happy to part finance and part pledge drive for this.

The current laser is many years old now. In the time I’ve been a member, 6 years, it’s had only a new tube and some new bearings. The hardware and software is out of date, despite attempts to update it, and people have issues sending large files to it, plus often it needs restarting or some TLC. While it still works, the accuracy is vague. The bed size is 600x400.

As one of the most used tools in the space and a key driver and maintainer of members, the laser cutter is a staple of any hackerspace.

We propose upgrading the laser cutter with a secondhand one, which is much larger, and with better hardware and software.

The benefits we see:

  • 1000x600 ~1300 X 900~ bed - this will enable much larger cuts
  • Updated software - for £20 we can get an unlimited license for the space and its members for Lightburn software. This will make it much easier to send files to the laser.
  • Huge selling point - this is likely to drive a lot of interest in the space as it increases the tools it has for larger builds, and fabrication which isn’t possible with smaller tools
  • Redundancy - we can keep or sell the old laser - if we keep it, it won’t take up too much room by the side of the stage and will provide a backup. If we sell it, we have a more maintainable machine anyway.
  • ITS EXCITING - so often these documents things tend to be emotionless, but the fact is the laser team is really excited by this. It’s a step change for the offering of Visual Arts
  • Members will be retrained if needed and new members will get new training on how to use the new tool

My proposal is that the space purchases the tool, and then the laser team gets a pledge drive to offset the cost to the space, with the incentive that for every £10 donated, 10mins of laser time is added to your account.

This drives engagement as well as getting the laser some good first use to iron out any kinks. Given laser time is priced to factor in any upgrades needed, the space won’t lose out on this offer.

Proposed Purchase:

Proposed Installation:
Laser team will do a switcheroo on or near the delivery day

Up to list price + 20USD for lightburn license

Funding type:
Fully or part funded by Hackspace and Pledge-drive

Health & Safety
Broadly the same H&S as the current laser but a full review will be taken of any notable changes. This will be added to the training.

Micro Proposal <£50 - 2 Board Members and 2 Members
Small Proposal < £150 - 2 Board Members and 5 Members
Medium Proposal < £500 - Majority of Board Members and 10 general members
Large Proposal > £500 - consult the board before gathering membership support, a strict board majority must be achieved. Large proposals can only be approved at members meetings with majority support from the members present. Proxy votes can be used.

Supporting Board Members:

Supporting Members: (delete number as appropriate)

To add your support please comment below with +1, yes, or something like that! “Liking” this post won’t count!


+1 yes, I’d throw in £100 towards it

Goes without saying but +1, would chuck in 50-100 depending on circumstances at time

Yes yes yes!


Yes. I’d contribute £50

Yes! This looks awesome and happy to contribute to a pledge drive too

Hey Connor,

I’ve moved this post into the visual arts category for the moment, as I don’t think it’s quite ready to be a finished proposal just yet, but it’s great we are already seeing plenty of membership support.

As an individual member i’m in support of this. A new bigger laser cutter with simpler interface would be a great asset for us.

Some points that i’d like to raise:

  1. The cutter is on ebay, who take something like 12% fees up to £2k then 3% for anything over that. That’s about £270 in fees. If we contact the seller directly we can instantly haggle this off. Googling their user name and location ended me here: https://www.facebook.com/kniDesignTqy/
    They may be willing to give us more of a discount since we’re a community space and their listing has been up for a little while. It would also be useful to know how much of a rush they are in to flog it.

  2. Does anyone know if this represents good or bad value for money? While we can all be in agreement that a new laser cutter would be fab, this shouldn’t overrule us trying to get a good deal.

  3. The laser cutter is in Torquay, Devon. Part of this proposal should definitely include costing for escorting the laser cutter 5 hours, or an alternative and definite plan. It also notes it’s a 4 man lift, so make sure whoever is quoting for moving it knows they’ll need to arrive with 4 people.

  4. Who are the laser team and are they committing to the purchase, install and overcoming teething problems of the new machine? Are they also committing to organising a new induction process and running some number of sessions to get through a glut of people wanting inductions? I’d hope the excitement of a new cutter would bring more people onto the team, but you never know.

  5. Does this machine fit into our current infrastructure, e.g. ventilation, or will that need to form part of the process to? Is there a way to get this up onto the stage, and somewhere up there for it to fit? Most importantly, will it fit through the double doors?

  6. This being a chinese no-brand laser, are spare parts easy to source, and not stupid prices for their rarity?

A personal note on whether we keep or sell the old one, my vote would be to sell it. There’s no point stretching our maintainers over 2 machines, when no one is going to be using the small complicated one when we have a shiney new one to use. Does anyone know how much we might be able to sell the old one for?

Before this becomes a proper proposal i’d really like to see a proper total price put to this proposal, including getting it to the space and installing it in a way we’d like to. How much are you going to want the space to pay, and how much are you hoping to raise through member pledges? Understandably this might vary a little bit, but i think it’s an important clarification to make.

I understand it might feel a rush to grab this while it’s there, but if this proposal goes through and then this is already sold, the money can then be signposted for next time a laser comes to market, and we can be much more ready to pounce. Equally, if this is a great bargain, then fingers crossed we get it.

I also note that according to the proposal process approved by the board the other week, this proposal would need majority support at a members meeting and majority board support, so at least 3 out of the 5 of us.

+1 I’ll chuck in £50

+1, I will pledge £100 towards this.

I have some comments, but none of these are blockers for me:

  • I’d like to keep the old laser for a while after the new one is up and running; despite quirks, it works and my projects depend on it! But more importantly, we currently have 86 users trained on the orange laser and training is a bottleneck. Especially if we switch to lightburn, we will need some retraining for all these users. This is going to take a while.

  • We need to find space for it, with access to power, extraction and a nearby space for a computer terminal if we use lightburn (because people will then need to use a common computer to upload designs)

Either way, thank you to the laser maintenance team for researching this and proposing it.

I’d be willing to support this and chip in £100.

Physical space and maintainer time permitting, I’d see value in keeping the old one up and running. As a popular tool, a level of redundancy would be useful so members always have access to one if the other’s ever down for maintenance.

A second would also minimise the opportunity for members waiting around for one to become free, if congestion is a problem we currently or might face during busy periods?

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+1, happy to contribute some cash to it. The concerns raised above are valid so I’d be interested to see how well. it can fit into the current space.

+1 yes plz

+1 Laser cutters keep folks coming back!

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+1 hi. I am new to the space and am loving it.

I want to learn to use the laser cutter as I have some work that depends on access.

Has anyone had a look at Ostia tools on eBay. It’s based down the road from me in Bredbury and gets tools from secondary schools, colleges and universities. In most cases these are a lot better looked after than ordinary second hand machines.


+1 definitely!

great to see a lot of people think an upgraded laser would be good!

It seems wise to browse the market for a bit longer and find one that’s best value and suitabity for the space. With regards to transport, this depends how close to Manchester the listing is on eBay so the cost will depend on distance. This message is from the laser maintainers chat:

budget wise along with transportation (luton + 3 people for a day probably) i’d also add a honeycomb bed (£200ish)

There was a suggestion of getting a new generic laser from China (lots of replacement parts if needed and very simply made):

  • this would be subject to import fees and collection from a port, though but it’s another option for sure.

Note it doesn’t have to be a laser maintainer who does the finding of a suitable laser cutter. As a community workshop anyone who uses or has a basic understanding of the laser can suggest a machine that could be suitable.

So it seems like there’s broad concensus that a new and upgraded laser would be used and appreciated.

I think to keep momentum up on this and make it a reality it will need some folk to group up to browse the market and select some good candidates for purchase. So if people are interested in forming that group, maybe time to form a group chat on Telegram or create a thread for all the details and then feed back here?

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Greetings all - some developments on the new laser cutter venture.

@Luke found this laser which would be just the ticket for us:

I forgot to add this initially so here’s a message from below:

Just to make sure it’s clear, this new one is smaller than the requirements in the original proposal at 1000x600. That is much larger than our current cutter (600x400), so it is an improvement. But, still less than the original proposal (1300x900).

Here are some thougts from the laser maintainer chat:

  • And add 300 quid for a CW5000 chiller
  • So 2200ish total, space will pay 1100 if the membership can come up with 1100, and members can use any pledges they make as laser time credit
    (I’m including a hackspace license for lightburn in that total amount)
  • People are offering to help with moving and transport
  • Need a nod from the board before we can make any promises however what is proposed is what was done in the past.

Action Time

So @Harvinder_Atwal has kindly offered to reach out and see if he can secure it with a deposit or something. “Use those hackspace creds.”

We could do with some board input on how this is going to go but the feeling from folk in the laser maintainer chat is that this is a very good shout for us and let’s just get it.

Time to pledge or update your pledges

We will assume that pledges above already made are still valid to this new laser, but if you’d like to update your pledge (up or down) you’re of course totally welcome. Some time has passed and people’s situations may have changed so please do update your pledge if you need to.

Pledge and get laser time back

We expect that pledges made would translate to laser time as has happened in the past, so the more you pledge the more laser time you get.

In the original proposal I mentioned £10 gets 10mins as this is what was done before.

Board support requested

I’d like to ask the board @Team_Board if they would consider matching pledges made and we get this show on the road.

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To answer Joes questions from chat:

We can either hire a van on an hourly basis. This works out to £28 for 2 hours / £50 for 4 hours from B&Q on a saturday morning.
We also have offers from members to collect it using their own personal transport (if it fits).

Spare parts are super generic - it’s one of the benefits of getting a Chinese-generic laser, so a good thought and worth mentioning but it shouldn’t be an issue

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I’m happy to reaffirm my pledge.

Just to make sure it’s clear, this new one is smaller than the requirements in the original proposal at 1000x600. That is much larger than our current cutter (600x400), so it is an improvement. But, still less than the original proposal (1300x900).

Are we all aware of and happy with that?

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