What OTHER digital fabrication tools do you have/use

I know a lot of you the GF is their first digital fabrication tool, for many others it will be one more arrow in our quiver.

Tell us about them and what you like and dislike.

I’ll go first.

Two years ago, a bit more than that now, I supported the Kickstarter for the Handibot made by Shopbot Tools.
I love this thing, and it created a monster in me. Its main strength is it is light and portable; it will go to the work if the work does not go to it.
Its biggest downfall is because of its greatest strength. I will only cut a 6x8 inch section at a time. It will cut most anything I throw at it up through aluminum. There is larger CNC router in my future!

A few months ago I bought Luzbot mini; it will do a lot of things the Handibot won’t and vice verse, it is more like they complement each other instead of compete. The 6x6x6 print area is just right for me because as projects get bigger other fabrication technics become more appropriate.

Finally, there are my regular office machines; you may not think of them as fabrication tools, but they are. I have an HP color laser printer and an HP inkjet with a scanner. I have used these as fabrication tools in the past but with the GF I can see them becoming proper tools. Scan a pattern, clean it up, print it on some nonvinyl sticker material and then cut it on the GF!

Now tell us about yours.


In the wood shop, I have an early 24"x24" CNC Shark (http://www.nextwaveautomation.com/cncshark.aspx). At the time I bought it, it was the Glowforge of the CNC router world: one of the first CNC routers of its size at it’s price point. I’d like to upgrade to a larger machine from Legacy CNC (http://www.legacycncwoodworking.com/maverick-cnc/single-gallery/20783971) but that’s probably a couple years down the road. I also have the usual table saw, drill press, scroll saw, etc.

In the office, I have a Roland BN-20 vinyl printer/cutter (http://www.rolanddga.com/products/printers/versastudio-bn-20-t-shirt-printing-press) that I use for heat transfers, decals, banners, and posters. It has it’s limitations but, for my needs, it was the best choice. It paid for itself in about 6 months. I also have a no-name heat press. I planned to replace it with a
Geo Knight DK20S (https://www.heatpress.com/product.php?pn=4) for more consistent performance but I don’t use it often enough to justify the cost yet. Additional tools include a manual cold laminator, an HP Color LaserJet, and an Epson 11"x17" ink jet printer.

Down the road, I hope to add a 3D printer and a dye sublimation printer.

On the software front, I do the bulk of my design work in CorelDraw X7. For the CNC router, I may start with Corel but I primarily use Vectric Aspire. I have used SketchUp to design something I needed a friend to 3D print for me.

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I think there are at least several people that have a Silhouette Cameo or Portrait, or other cutting machine designed for crafters. I am one.

Years ago, I worked on a commercial size Roland printer/cutter.


I don’t have any other digital fabrication tools at home. I have the better part of a woodshop (cabinet saw, planer, drill press, etc), but couldn’t get excited about any CNC tools until I got my first laser.

But you all may be more interested in the office… we have a Haas VF4, an Othermill, a Carvey on order (not yet arrived), a Makerbot, a Form 1+ (we’re upgrading to Form 2), a Cricut, a Silhouette, and of course an increasing number of Glowforges.


Just the normal 10 digits but I’ll share a story of how a new tool can inspire something one wouldn’t normally do. Even the simplest tool. I watched Eleanor Burns take a rotary cutter and do her quilt in a day magic for the first time and knew I had to try it. I had just done simple machine work for costumes and such. That rotary cutter lead me to try to sew all kinds of things. A few log cabin Christmas tree skirts were given as gifts and my bed quilt is one I pieced and completed. I did bribe the local quilting guild to quilt it for me. That hand work is really what makes a quilt, but since they are always looking for tops to quilt, I have obliged. So I just assume folks will take a Glowforge and find things inside themselves they never knew were there.
Another thing to add: it’s not a digital fabrication tool but it is a digital tool. I didn’t think to add my telescope, a 6" Meade ETX. After my midi keyboard it was the first instrument that I controlled with a computer. That’s where I learned so much about the great open source resources available. The concept of finding an object in the sky and tracking its movement helped me get familiar with the process of using coordinates. When I got my first GPS module, I was so psyched. So it’s all about controlling movement using motors albeit using a different coordinate system than CNC.


Other than usual wood working tools, and the all important fully loaded dremel for cleaning up all these makes, I kickstartered the BigBox3D printer, which I can’t wait for its imminent arrival which can print up to a cubic foot (300mm^3) and since it can print up to 400C will allows some very exotic materials, and I have access to a Form1 at work. The GF will be my first foray into laser cutting (well in college I worked programming PLCs controlling a CO2 laser which was cutting drip irrigation parts). I am also deciding between a Carvey and X-carve.

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Pride and joy is my CNC gutiar pickup winder. App coded and hardware fabricated by myself from the ground up. Run by a pair of bipolar steppers via 2 Phidgets bipolar stepper controllers. Coolest toy on the planet for making electric guitar pickups! :smile:

Also have a Shapeoko 3 CNC 3-axis router which is incredible! Grizzly G0619 mill with 3-axis DRO and power feed, but no CNC. Also the usual hobby shop gear: metal cutting band saw, table saw, chop saw, scroll saw, floor standing drill press, bench router, bench grinder, bench sander. . .

Retirement is great! :smile:


I have two 3D printers (a printrbot Simple and a Robo3D kickstarter edition,) and was debating getting either the X-Carve or printrbot’s CNC when I came across the Glowforge and that got bumped to the top of the list.

Other than that nothing special for digital fabrication. I do plan, however, on making a rotocaster with both the Glowforge and 3D printers and some other bits.

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I have a 24" KNK vinyl cutter, which was the gateway drug that brought me here. Accompanying the cutter I have a 15" x 15" heat press. It is pretty cool to be able to produce professional grade t-shirts at home. I had a bespoke Mad Max Fury Road shirt a month before the movie came out, because I saw the cool skull logo in the trailer and decided to make something with it.

Eventually I will get some sort of CNC mill too, I am sure, but probably not until I have spent quite a while with the Glowforge.

I run a 42" Graphtec FC8600-100 Plotter. I’m hoping to get into a wide-format printer soon, and had been contemplating an Othermill or a Makerbot until I ran across the 'Forge. Don’t know if I would consider my lincoln welder digital…

ZenWorks CNC (not yet fully assembled), Form 1+, Printrbot Simple Metal, Monoprice 3D, and a home built semi-Lasersaur.

The Zenworks I am excited to try out, but needing to make my own mounts for the limit switches is a nuisance, so it keeps getting shuffled back lower and lower on the to-do list (even though it is consuming my free tabletop workspace).

The Form 1+ prints amazing parts, as long as you get the supports and overall design of the piece correct so that it prints properly. Hate cleaning up failed prints. And the post-processing is a nuisance.

The printrbot I took some time and dialed in most of the way. It is a seriously awesome workhorse. I unfortunately need to spend a bit more time on it still though to get dimensional accuracy. Another item I always slip lower on the list of things to accomplish though. For now, I sand things down when I need tight fittings, and do not print things which are supposed to be movable upon print.

The Monoprice… I hate. I know it is my fault for not taking the time to dial in the settings. But I really do not want to take the time to do that. Having a dual extruder is nice, but prices keep coming down on options to make my printrbot be dual extrusion, so I avoid this one like the plague (even though I did get a cabinet made for it to trap heat).

Our home built laser I adore, because yipee! Laser cutter! And of course I fully understand the making of a cutter now, and so can expand and modify this one to my heart’s content. Software cannot do raster engraving though, so I need to tweak that sometime soon. May have to apply for a job at GF if I delve too far into that though, I tend to get addicted to coding projects, and it would eat up enough time I should try and get paid for it :wink:


You and I are of the same! I have a seikitech vinylcutter at home. Love making stickers for everyone and I decorate my windows each holiday with them too. I never spent money on the heatpress though… I did catch that skull, vectored the shit out of the logo but did not get to print it on a shirt :frowning:

I’ve got a fab(rication) academy diploma and I’ve been hobbying off and on with lasers, 3D printers, CNC routers, the works. I love it and can’t wait to get my glowforge!

I have a 6’x12’ Shopbot cnc, a Mutoh Valuejet 1324 54" wide inkjet printer, a Graphtec FC7000MK2-75 30" vinyl cutter, Afinia 3d printer and two 1984 Gerber Signmaker 4A vinyl cutters with a 16 character display and built in keyboard. I also have a full wood and metal fabrication shop with manual tools including a 3500 lb milling machine and a metal lathe.

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wow. probably still running strong too, huh?

Yeah, we fire them up every now and then. If there’s ever a Matrix style apocalypse, I’ll still be able to cut vinyl letters. No cloud based software here.

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I have a Silhouette Cameo which is what lead me to GForge.

I have an Ultimaker 3D printer and recently (not installed yet) a thermoformer TAIR A4.

With Glowforge I will be able of amazing projects, Muahahahahaha!!! :smile:

Ultimaker original.
Canon iPF610 wide format printer (brilliant machine).

Form 2
Connex 500 (sigh…)

  • “Bender” aka MakerBot Cupcake #465 (circa 2009)
  • “Flexo” aka MakerBot Thing-O-Matic (unstamped prototype)
  • “HedonismBot” aka MakerBot Replicator 1, Dual Extruder
  • Egg-Bot
  • Drawing robot based on Polargraph
  • Several TinyCNC’s
  • Brother Laser Printer
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I have a ton of old school woodworking tools. Nothing digital though I would love to get a CNC machine. I did back a kickstater mini-laser (lasercube) but the damn thing was damaged in shipping and only partially worked once. I haven’t taken it apart and worked it out yet to figure out what is going wrong. Support was terrible so I’m pretty much just stuck with it. I’m sure I’ll get it to work but in my job setup for the thing I realized how complicated the job setup is and how complicated it is to use. That makes me appreciate the simplicity of the glowforge and the ease of registration. I would love to see glowforge leverage the optics and software into a CNC machine for cutting aluminum and thicker wood.