You know that a safe, high-quality laser cutter will greatly enhance your school’s STEAM efforts and makerspace, but how can you maximize your investment? In fact, “desktop” laser cutters like the Dremel DigiLab are so versatile they can help your school actually make money on new initiatives and reduce costs for things you already do. Here’s how.
1. Endless fundraising possibilities
Schools are using laser cutters to create new fundraising opportunities and reduce costs on some old standbys.
Customize Spirit Wear and Gifts:
Laser cutters can engrave your school name, logo, and even individual student or team names on a wide variety of materials, including glass, wood, aluminum, acrylic, fabric, leather, and rubber. Just think of all the possibilities! You can buy in bulk--name tags, pencils, erasers, picture frames, custom ornaments--pop them into the laser cutter, and add your customization. Sell these products to families, at sports events, or in the community.
Create a Donor Wall:
Schools that are raising money for new initiatives or buildings often create a donor wall to thank donors who have given support. With a laser cutter you can engrave plaques of aluminum, wood, or acrylic with family or company names to display. You’ll save the cost of having to send the materials out for engraving as this can now be done in-house.
Sponsor a Tile:
A student-painted ceramic tile mosaic is a classic school fundraiser. Families purchase a tile, students paint, and the tile is glazed and baked in a kiln. With a laser cutter, you can now capture a greater diversity of artwork. Students can draw their art on white paper with black markers, or they can use a free program like Google Draw to draw online. Either way, the Dremel DigiLab Laser Cutter has the features to convert your students’ art into a file that can be engraved on tile--or another material of your choice.
Enhance Fundraising Events:
Customization opportunities are endless when you have a laser cutter. At the school auction, remind parents of the cause they are supporting with custom wood paddles cut on the laser cutter and engraved with your school logo. Set the tables at a parent tea with name cards engraved with their children’s photo. Create professional giveaways and prizes, like customized coasters.
2. Reduce production costs and time for customization
Laser cutters are doing for customization what the teacher workroom copy machine did for printing. When you have one at school, you spread your costs among teachers of all subjects, administration, and even your parent booster clubs. Now, instead of paying big money to send projects out, you can do your own customization. It can also be done quickly for last-minute, personalized awards.
Make Impressive Awards, Trophies, and Plaques:
Just the other day at a school in Connecticut, two high school student project proposals were accepted by NASA and will soon be launched into space. Instead of printing paper certificates that have to be framed, the tech director had the laser cutter engrave the certificate design directly onto a sheet of acrylic and cut a plaque for each. This was a cost-effective way to honor students for an important achievement, and can be done with wood, glass, anodized aluminum, and other materials.
Personalize with Signs and Name Plates:
With a laser cutter, it is easy to create signs of all sorts throughout the school. This can be a valuable benefit for your maintenance staff as well as classroom bulletin boards. Mat board, single wall corrugated cardboard, and wood can all be laser-engraved, so you can make signs that are both permanent and temporary for only the cost of materials. Many schools have found sources to get donated cardboard, reducing their costs to zero.
Want your teachers and office staff to be able to put a little personality into the name plates on their doors and desks? On the laser cutter, names can be engraved on a wide variety of materials. For added customization, each faculty member can add a symbol or favorite word or quote next to their names.
Make Your Own Teaching Aids:
Goodbye laminator and die cut machine, hello laser cutter! A laser cutter can etch and engrave any design or document that can be turned into several common file types, including PDFs. Do you have flashcards or game cards that you use in your classroom year after year? Now instead of using flimsy cardstock or laminating, the laser cutter can engrave your cards--or any other document that you turn into a PDF or JPEG--on wood, acrylic, leather, fabric, and more.
3. Turn your Bake Sale into a Make Sale
These days, it’s tricky to provide Bake Sale food that meets the requirements of a wide array of diets, leaving many kids and adults feeling left out. Why not include everyone and host a Make Sale that teaches entrepreneurship and design skills in the process?
A non-profit in Minnesota approached a makerspace teacher and asked if his students could make products to sell at their fundraiser. Laser cutters are fast and can crank out projects in seconds or minutes compared to the hours it takes even a small model to print on a 3D printer. The speed factor made it easy for the teacher to say yes. Students designed hundreds of items, cut or engraved them on a laser cutter, and raised enough money to feed seven homeless families in town for a year.