Of all of the fabrication tools available to makers, 3D printers are the most useful. With a 3D printer, you can go from a design to a three-dimensional prototype part in a matter of hours. With a bit of sanding and painting, you can even make those 3D-printed parts look like they were professionally manufactured. That said, there are situations when other tools are more appropriate. CNC routers are better for cutting large wood parts, CNC mills are better for fabricating anything metal, and laser cutters are better for quickly churning out two-dimensional parts. That’s why the Rubanmaster combines SLA 3D printing and laser cutting in a single machine.
Rubanmaster just recently launched through Kickstarter, and the campaign has already reached more than $55,000 in funding — more than 11 times the goal. It’s advertised as a 3-in-1 machine, because it is capable of SLA 3D printing, laser cutting, and laser engraving. We think that’s a bit misleading, since all laser cutters are also laser engravers, but that’s advertising for you. Unlike most other budget stereolithography (SLA) 3D printers that utilize an LCD to mask UV light, the Rubanmaster uses an actual laser. That is generally considered to be the superior technology. This has a print volume of 120 x 120 x 140 mm (4.73 x 4.73 x 5.5 inches) and a claimed laser movement accuracy of 0.005 mm. The laser can move at up to 600 mm/s, which is several times faster than most fused-filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printers are capable of moving.
The laser used for the cutting and engraving is not the same laser that is used for 3D printing. To use it, you just flip the machine upside down so that your work piece can rest on the inverted build platform. Cutting and engraving is done with a relatively weak 2.5W 450nm laser, which is strong enough to engrave wood, leather, acrylic, and more, but can only actually cut through a few materials if they’re thin enough. You definitely won’t be cutting or engraving metal at all. You can control Rubanmaster with a 3.5” color touchscreen, and files can be loaded over WiFi or from a USB drive. It seems the Rubanmaster does onboard slicing, so you shouldn’t have to do that on a separate computer. Image files in SVG, JPEG, or PNG can also be loaded directly for the laser cutting.
If you want to get your own Rubanmaster, the Kickstarter campaign will be running until November 12th. Super early birds can get one for just $449, though cheaper options are available if you only want one of the machine’s functions. Rewards are expected to ship in May of 2021.