Laser engravers are traditionally big, bulky units, meaning you have to cart the item you want engraved to the engraver – which can be a chore if the item is also big and bulky. But a new laser engraver from Taiwan-based startup Mulherz makes it easy to bring the engraver to the item. Small enough to fit in a handbag and controlled via a smartphone app, Cubiio literally puts a laser engraver in the palm of your hand.

The Cubiio team has managed to cram a laser engraver inside a cube that measures 5 cm (2 in) along each side. The laser embedded within is a semiconductor blue laser that can be outputted at 100 different levels, up to 800 mW. As laser engravers go, that's not super powerful, meaning the unit needs to be placed at a distance of 150 to 160 mm (5.9 to 6.3 in) from the object to be engraved.

But positioning shouldn't be too difficult given the compact size and 150-g (5.3-oz) weight of Cubliio, which comes with a standard screw mount in the base for attaching to a tripod. The device can also work on materials in either a vertical or horizontal orientation, and in addition to etching designs on various materials, including leather, wood, acrylic and metal, it will also be able to cut through thin pieces of paper, cardboard, fabric, leather and wood.

Whereas conventional laser cutters involve moving the laser, which is one of the reasons for their bulk, the Cubiio employs two current-driven motors (galvanometers) to move two internal mirrors that deflect the laser beam along X and Y axes instead. It's capable of a resolution of 152 to 254 dpi, and given the size of the device, it shouldn't be surprising that the working area of the Cubiio is somewhat restricted at 10 x 10 cm (3.9 x 3.9 in).

Before notching up to engraving power, Cubiio will first project a weak beam for previewing, either showing the planned trajectory or the boundary rectangle of the intended design, to ensure you've got the device on target.

Designs can be created in the Cubiio app available for iOS and Android, or uploaded in either BMP or G-Code file formats. Once a design is selected, it's sent via Bluetooth to the device, which is powered from a standard electrical outlet.

Seeking US$25,000 through Kickstarter, Cubiio has blasted through its target and has attracted over $800,000 in pledges with a month still to run. Pledges start at $379 for the Cubiio, and jumps up to $499 for the Cubiio and a CubiioShield that encloses the Cubiio and extracts and filters toxic fumes from the device. The company recommends using the Cubiio outside if the CubiioShield isn't being used. If all goes to plan, Cubiio laser engravers will be on their way to backers in November.

Cubiio can be seen in action in the video below.

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