Swimming With Sharks

Published: 21 April 2015

A few weeks ago, I decided to take the plunge and buy my very own laser cutter. After I had decided to buy one, the next decision was which cutter to buy?

In the UK there aren’t a great deal of companies to choose from. Probably the first company people will find are HPC Laser Ltd based in Halifax. I do know quite a few people the have HPC Lasers and they do do a good job, however I have heard mixed reviews about their customer service, so I was a bit reluctant to make the plunge with them (YMMV).

Being the founder of Barnsley.IO, a maker group based here in Barnsley, I luckily have quite a wide network of contacts in the maker community, one such contact being with the guys Dominic and Martin at Just Add Sharks. Dominic and Martin are makers themselves, with Dominic being a founder of Nottinghack, one of the biggesthackspaces in the UK, of which Martin is also an active member. When running a hackspace you get to learn a lot about what makes a good laser cutter. You want something reliable, easy to learn / use and at a reasonable cost. Another important factor is having a company that can be there if / when things go wrong to help you get back up and running quickly, the all important customer service factor.

After being frustrated themselves with the lack of such companies in UK, Dominic and Martin setup Just Add Sharks to take up the challenge. They sourced a complete range of cutters from a manufacturer in China, suggesting tweaks to make them much better machines for the maker market, and after an initial order, Just Add Sharks was born.

It was this insider knowledge of the maker community that gave me the trust that Just Add Sharks would be the supplier for me, and with that I made my purchase of their entry level Blacknose A3 laser cutter.

Spec wise, the cutter matches up with most other offering in the UK for a similar sized cutter, and in many areas, it is far superior. Costs wise, it’s probably a little more than you’ll find at the likes of HPC, but with Just Add Sharks, you really do get everything you need to be up and running in minutes, even down to supplying a 4 gang power cord to plug everything into. So when you add up all the little things that you’ll end up needing to buy with other suppliers, there really isn’t much in it in the end.

Probably the biggest things I’ve been most pleased with since buying my cutter though has been the amazing customer support. Any questions I have had have been answered in minutes, and their help has been invaluable, be it advise on the best way to setup my files, to suggesting suppliers for materials.

If you are in the market for a new laser cutter yourself then, I really can’t recommend Just Add Sharks enough. Go check them out, you won’t regret it, I know I don’t.