This tutorial focuses on case design. If you’re new to laser cutting/engraving, please see our All About Laser Cutters tutorial.
Laser cutting is a fantastic medium for prototyping and the type of small-run manufacturing favored by maker businesses. A powerful laser — usually a 30 Watt or larger CO2 tube laser — is aimed by a computer-controlled X/Y gantry to engrave a surface or cut clean through flat materials like acrylic or wood. It’s quick, precise and repeatable. Avoiding big startup costs such as mold tooling makes it a popular choice in the kit business.
No longer the exclusive domain of mass-produced plywood dinosaur models, these tools are now accessible to members of many community hackerspaces and makerspaces after just a little training. Even owning a personal laser cutter in your workshop or home is within reach of the determined hobbyist.
Unlike 3D printed or injection-molded parts, laser-cut enclosures are always built up from a series of planes. This tends to dictate a certain aesthetic to laser enclosures…it becomes a challenge not to make everything look like the same boring rectilinear box. This isn’t a concern for personal one-off quick projects that nobody will see, but for a finished kit it’s best selling something that looks like a polished product and not some prototype covered in wingnuts and cable ties.