Just Add Sharks

Just Add Sharks

Just Add Sharks Ltd present the vanillabox, an affordable, open source, functional laser cutter. This simplified machine will be supplied with everything you need to start cutting, straight out of the box.

Aimed at hobbyists and first-time laser cutter owners, the vanillabox will boast a 35W laser capable of cutting laser safe plywoods, MDF, acrylic and more in one pass.

Just Add Sharks

We’ve been on a quest since forming Just Add Sharks to find a small desktop laser cutter to complement our fleet of larger laser cutting machines. But despite looking at smaller models from China we could not find anything of sufficient quality and capability to put the Just Add Sharks name on. But that’s about to change. Say hello to vanillabox, an open source laser cutter, designed and built in the UK and driven by our passion for laser cutting that’s made Just Add Sharks a success in the last 4 years.

We feel strongly that by designing and manufacturing our own small format laser cutter we can stay true to the open and collaborative philosophies of the Hackerspace and maker movement from which Just Add Sharks was conceived back in 2013. The vanillabox will be an open source laser cutter that can run on PC or MAC and will be customisable and hackable for those who love to tinker and improve, but at the same time reliable and straightforward for those who want to just get making. Because laser cutters are relatively simple CNC machines we think with good documentation and a little help from a big community supporting each other, most vanillabox owners be confident operators of their laser cutter in no time at all.

We didn't want to reinvent the wheel so our laser cutter uses common off-the-shelf parts common to most lower cost laser cutters and it uses software built upon GRBL and Visicut to drive the machine. We strongly support the open source community and will support these existing projects and follow them through their lifespan while keeping the vanillabox system as flexible and upgradable as possible.

vanillabox Laser Cutter

Crowdfunding campaign closes midnight, 30th April

  • 15%funded
  • £22500pledged
  • 15backers

We’ve been impressed by the communities that grow around 3D printing, micro-computing and other open source projects and wish to nurture the open source laser cutter community! We believe that being open and sharing will not only make vanillabox better, but enhance everyone's experience of laser cutting, something we’re very passionate about. As a leading organisation we want to provide a platform for development through vanillabox and a medium for sharing knowledge through the vanillabox customers forum. We’d like to encourage development of vanillabox by committing to upgrading the systems of any community member who develops an improvement that we adopt, but that's getting ahead of ourselves for now!

Our vanillabox prototype is functioning well, we’re about to finalise the design following the completion of the latest all steel prototype. Now we're turning to crowdfunding. We believe that by crowdfunding at this point in the product development cycle we can kickstart (no pun intended) a community around our open source cutter. We believe that vanillabox is a build platform, where future developments can be built onto vb’s basic functionality. So let vanillabox take you on a journey with us. We’ll only be making 100 vanillabox cutters initially, no matter how much interest there is, we want you to be one of the one hundred pioneers that will build the open source laser cutter revolution! So sign up today and join us in the adventure. guaranteed!

Join us and we’ll keep you well informed of how your laser cutter is progressing, of any victories or setbacks along the way. We’ll be very open and honest, we aim to be the good-guys in the laser cutter business,when we’ve had to make difficult decisions at Just Add Sharks we ask ourselves “What would the good guys do?”.

Buy vanillabox laser cutter
Special Introductory Price

£1,249.95 exc VAT
  • One Size Fits No-One?

    We have decided to crowdfund with just one level of reward, everyone will get the same machine as a base. If the campaign is successful we will be offering alternate parts and upgrades to our customers where we have the space and time to explain exactly what the difference is and why you might want it.

  • Pre-Order Crowdfunding

    This is a campaign to raise funds for the production of the vanillabox laser cutter. If the crowdfunding campaign is successful production will begin as soon as possible. If the campaign is not successful we will return the funds to you.

  • Contact Us

    If you have any questions that you don't think we've answered in the FAQ then please feel free to contact us


  • Ready to Run

    The vanillabox comes supplied as a ready to run system, this means you get everything you need to turn it on as soon as you get home. You just need a single wall socket, a computer and somewhere to vent the exhaust fumes.

  • System Diagram

  • Technical Specification

  • Further Details

    The machine uses an NXP LPC1769, ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller which makes it compatible with GRBL-ARM, Smoothieware and LAOS.
    All communication is done with G-Code so the machine can be driven by any compatible G-Code sender.

The vanillabox laser cutter has already been through multiple iterations of prototyping because we wanted to resolve any issues before we dared to start crowdfunding. We have learnt what works and what doesn't. Things that weren't going to easily scale to 100 units were quickly modified.

The current version of the vanillabox is sufficiently close to a final version for use to feel satisfied with the design. There will be one more iteration to perfect the last few details and then we can begin full production. Removing the rounded corners will be the most significant and noticable of the changes.

  • Acrylic with paint infill

  • Oak with metal wire inlay

  • Birch plywood with engraved detail

  • Corrugated card and crepe paper

  • Walnut parquet flooring

  • Poplar plywood flex boxes


What happens if you don't reach the required crowdfunding amount?

If we don't reach the required number of pre-orders in the allocated time we will refund all of the money as quickly as possible

When will the machines be available?

We shall be making the machines as quickly as possible, but we are realistic about how many we can make each month. Our current plan to ship all units before the end of 2017 and we'll provide regular updates about our progress.

How much is shipping?

We generally advise collection from our Nottingham unit so that we can provide a small training session.
Shipping to most parts of the UK will cost £100, but if you live in one of the more remote regions of the UK please contact us for a more accurate shipping estimate.

Do you ship internationally?

This first run of laser cutters are destined for the UK only, we wish to be able to support our customers appropriately and think a limited release is the best way to do that. We hope to be shipping the laser cutters abroad in the future. That said if you wish to come and collect your machine from our Nottingham unit then we welcome sales from our European friends.

What is the maximum thickness of material I can put in the machine?

There are two seperate questions here;
What is the thickest material I can cut?
The maximum thickness depends largely upon the material you are trying to cut, the 35W laser is capable of cutting >5mm Laser plywood, Laser MDF and Acrylic. It will cut these at a relatively slow pace, it is very good for cutting 3mm materials at a reasonable speed. We always recommend using laser quality materials to ensure consistent and high quality cutting results.

How Far does the Z axis move? How much room is under the laser head?
The telescoping nozzle of the Z axis moves 20mm up and down so you can quickly change between 1mm and 20mm sheet materials and still make the appropriate focal adjustment.
With the honeycomb bed removed it would be possible to put something 75mm thick under the laser head and engrave the surface of it. This is useful if you want to engrave on the top of a box or similar.

Where can I get materials from?

We recommend Kitronik for laser quality materials. They have a wide range of materials and are close to our Nottingham unit, we will be able to ship any material order placed at Kitronik alongside your laser cutter for free. We will be providing more information about this service when the time comes.

What is the maximum cut/engrave speed?

The maximum cutting speed for the machine is 30mm/s and the maximum engraving speed is 300mm/s. These are the maximum speeds acheivable if you wish to cut something like card or paper, a realistic cutting speed for 3mm Poplar plywood is 15mm/s.

Is the tube replaceable?

All the consumable items such as the laser tube, lens and mirrors will be user replaceable. We will be selling spare parts through our own webstore but the parts themselves are relatively standard so there are lots of others places you can buy them from too.

Can I add a chiller or a filtration system to my order?

Once the campaign is successful we will be offering these upgraded accessories for purchase with the laser. Most of these items are already available through our web store so you can get an indication of price. (Just Add Sharks)
We are in contact with BOFA and hope to be offering a deal on the smaller AD Access Filtration system that will fit under a workbench.