Abstract

There are broad claims about how makerspaces, Fab Labs, and hacker spaces are going to make production trends more sustainable and facilitate equitable access to manufacturing opportunities. Absent from most of these discussions are metrics for success: how will these personal fabrication spaces assess their status as self-sufficient, self-serving, and sustainable? Laser cutters are one of the more popular tools in personal fabrication spaces; yet there are gaps in the literature regarding their environmental impacts as compared to popular tools. Research on embodied environmental impacts is lacking for laser cutters and this study aims to fill a part of that gap by examining the embodied impacts of the Universal Laser System’s (ULS) VL-300 laser cutter. Results showed that 49.58 ReCiPe Endpoint H points were required to produce and distribute the ULS VL-300 laser cutter. Specifically, embodied impacts of the electronics — the micro-controllers required to operate the laser cutter — are responsible for the bulk (74%) of the overall laser cutter embodied impacts.

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