LaserFactory is an integrated fabrication process that augments a commercially available fabrication machine to support the manufacture of fully functioning devices without human intervention. In addition to creating 2D and 3D mechanical structures, LaserFactory creates conductive circuit traces with arbitrary geometries, picks-and-places electronic and electromechanical components, and solders them in place. To enable this functionality, we make four contributions. First, we build a hardware add-on to the laser cutter head that can deposit silver circuit traces and assemble components. Second, we develop a new method to cure dispensed silver using a CO2 laser. Third, we build a motion-based signaling method that allows our system to be readily integrated with commercial laser cutters. Finally, we provide a design and visualization tool for making functional devices with LaserFactory. Having described the LaserFactory system, we demonstrate how it is used to fabricate devices such as a fully functioning quadcopter and a sensor-equipped wristband. Our evaluation shows that LaserFactory can assemble a variety of differently sized components (up to 65g), that these can be connected by narrow traces (down to 0.75mm) that become highly conductive after laser soldering (3.2Ohm/m), and that our acceleration-based sensing scheme works reliably (to 99.5% accuracy).
The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (https://chi2021.acm.org/)