A laser cutter/engraver is an incredibly useful tool and the things you could do with them are limited to your imagination. I tinker with a lot of electronics and build boards that mostly have a lot of SMD components. I find it quite tedious to place the solder paste manually, especially if you are doing a small production run. Enter stencils. These are usually made from a wide variety of materials ranging from Kapton to Mylar to Aluminium. The aluminium ones are used in production and can get quite expensive.
I first thought of getting a Silhouette Cameo craft stencil cutter but then later realized that it does not have the resolution needed to create stencils for fine pitch components. And hence the laser. Though the laser has immense advantages they are notoriously sensitive to transients and their drivers have to be very precise. However, this still beat the stencil cutter. Importing one or buying one off the shelf was out of question since they are very expensive. Hence I decided to build my own. This includes a 1.6W laser mounted on a solid X-Y aluminium frame made from V-slot extrusions. I also made the electronics for driving the laser and the motor drivers.
If this has piqued your interest, check out the comprehensive 1.6W Laser Cutter and Engraver I wrote on this. Once you are done reading through this, take a look at the comments section too. Plenty of good folks have suggested tips and asked questions as well.