Of course consider if you really need or want a laser cutter, as knife printers such as the Silhouette can be easier to use and much cheaper while not melting the material you are working with.
The general base line solution to spectrometers is Ocean Optics. While bare bones and well known, it’s by no means cheap and the software is propriatary.
Consider the Spectruino, at only half a grand and with open source software. Have you tried the Spectruino? We’d love to know your thoughts.
Those people at minipcr sure are good at putting together really cheap but solid scientific equipment. Check out their Gyro Plus Micro-centrifuge for just $240.
You can get a $150 model without the variable speed, but at that point you might want to just consider a salad spinner.
It has always been a personal dream of mine to be able to talk to my lab equipment. I would particularly like voice controlled pipettes. I would say “Pipette, dispense 12.3 microliters please” and it would say “voice command not recognized, purging pipette,” and then I would scream. Ahhh the dream.
Now behold the Respeaker by seeedstudio for just $70. It’s a open source software and hardware solution for voice control. You can program anything that you can connect to either its wifi module or its Arudino compatible microprocessor. Which means you can’t really hook it up to a pipette, but you could voice control plenty of other things.
Need some cheap optical filters? Consider theater lighting filters. They even come in wonderful sampling packs!
These are used in the 3D printed microscope described in our Tiny Florescence Microscopy post, and there’s been plenty of people using this trick over the years so your not going into uncharted territory just to save a few dollars. Rosco even has this great website you can use which will give you the transmission spectra of the filter you choose. You’ll notice a little spectra in the bottom right of the app.