The big buzz in miniature manufacturing these days is all about the 3D printer, but for our money you can't beat the speed and flexibility of a good laser cutter. Affordable beginners' laser cutters, however, are admittedly hard to come by, which is why we're fascinated by Derby-based Gregory Holloway's MicroSlice. While it's no competition for a full-size laser cutter, Gregory's Arduino-based open-hardware project has captured considerable interest on Kickstarter and Instructables for its ability to cut paper, engrave plastic and wood and even - with a recently-developed higher-powered laser diode and driver - make simple single-layer printed circuit boards.
The MicroSlice has a work area of 50mm x 50mm (2" x 2"); Cuts paper and engraves leather, chocolate, wood & plastic; Make Simple PCB Circuits; Open Hardware; Uses the Arduino UNO R3. All the software used by the MicroSlice, including the graphics program, is Open Source, and free to use for personal use!