‘Gerbil’ is a recently launched upgrade for the popular K40 Laser cutter and engraver, and destined to become a classic. In a recent campaign launched by Awesome.Tech on Kickstarter, everyone who owns a K40 can now get their hands on one. For those who don’t own a K40, the laser is available online on eBay, with prices starting from $250.
Engineer Paul de Groot can relate to a friend who calls his original K40 an ‘exotic boat anchor’ – he was also underwhelmed with his original K40 laser cutter. So Paul set about upgrading his laser system.
“Gerbil is a small device to make your K40 laser cutter/etcher more user-friendly and improve the Output Quality.” Said Paul’s colleague Dan, while talking about the upgrade solution. “It can be installed into your K40 in a minute, and at last, you can realize your K40's potential to easily produce quality laser cuts and beautiful engravings.” he added.
With support from laser enthusiasts around the world, Paul delved deeper into the K40 design, but came to the shocking realisation that it was easier to detonate than renovate – he threw away the original laser cutter’s controller, and never looked back.
After several increasingly successful prototypes based on Grbl software, the online community of K40 users was begging to be part of his beta testing program ‘I hated saying no, so gave away a few more betas than you’d expect !’ laughed Paul as he realised that he had a hot product on his hands. Showing the unit at the Bay Area Maker Faire in San Francisco, Paul found the eye-catcher was some magnificent wooden laser engravings that people saw from a distance. They walked up and checked them out. Even if people didn’t already own a K40, everyone appreciated the great engravings.
‘They came for the engravings, but people really lit up when they realised my design allows for open-source software, so you can adapt it for your needs’, says Paul. His controller works with any open source image software that produces Grbl output – his current favourite combines Inkscape and a Grbl sender. “But the whole point is I have the freedom to change my software whenever I like,” Paul says.
The Kickstarter video includes footage from Paul’s stand at Maker Faire – showing just how hectic it was, and the diverse group of artists, makers and engineers excited by laser cutters.
Paul’s friend with the ‘exotic boat anchor’ has already ordered a Gerbil. Paul and Dan are now seeking community support on Kickstarter, and backers will not only be getting great hardware at a great price, but they will also be putting a robust G-Code Software Solution into the open source community, so that everyone can benefit from further improvements.
The Kickstarter Campaign is at: www.kickstarter.com/projects/2118335444/gerbil-the-open-upgrade-for-your-k40-laser and supporters can back this project with their pledges that can range from $32 AUD to $130 AUD.
Contact Person: Daniel Collins