A Combo 3-D Printer, CNC Machine and Laser Etcher Makes a Lot of Sense

By Chris Mills on at

3D printers are powerful but limited tools: you can make anything you want, but only out of a specific kind of plastic. But combine that with a CNC machine that shapes metal, and a laser etcher for fine detail, and you have an all-in-one workshop that doesn't require you getting your hands dirty.

BoXZY is a Kickstarter project to create a 3D printer that goes full Transformers, turning into a CNC machine or laser etcher without too much effort. From afar, the idea makes a lot of sense: all three kinds of production require a head that moves around, and as such all three machines have a lot of commonality.

The printer/drill/laser pulls off its trick thanks to interchangeable heads, which can be changed fairly easily between plastic-printing and lazer-zapping. The package isn't exactly cheap, with BoXZY plus two attachments costing $2,000/£1,356, or the full fabrication motherlode up for pre-order for $3,000/£2,034 – so it's not your everyday consumer good. And, as always, the usual Kickstarter caveats apply: although shipping is slated for November of this year, you're still pre-ordering a product, and there's no guarantee that what shows up in your mailbox will bear a resemblance to the snappy Kickstarter GIFs.