Introduction: Arduino 3-axis Mini Lazer Paper-Cutter

Picture of Arduino 3-axis Mini Lazer Paper-Cutter

Updated : 16/3 Add step 4, about using the stage.
Updated : 18/3 Add photos (cutting vinyl adhesive sheet)
Updated : 19/3 Add step 5, acting as pen plotter
Updated : 20/3 Add laser engraving video (Wood) and photo
Updated : 22/3 Add 2 drawings to show the structures of machine, also visit this link.

I read many posts and now I had finished my first mini Lazer Cutter.

The design is simple and reliable ( u can see the video )


It is using Arduino Duemilanove + GRBL (0.8c) + 100mW blue/ violet lazer with external battery power supply (5V)

Drawing program is inkscape + gcodetools, gcode sender is Unversai G Code Sender


I want to share with u but it is really difficult for me to explain it in english...

I just want to share some experiences, or, may be u can ask me...

Also, most of the technical things (especially about GRBL) u can find in the following articles.

Step 1: Main Body...

Picture of Main Body...

I had read many GRBL lazer-cutter design (especially using CDROM as axis-motor)

most of them is beautiful but I can't made them.

It is because I did not have powerful tools to make them, even prepare a wooden board is difficult to me.

Since I think the axis-motor is running smooth, I use a metal frame together with few blocks to setup the structures.

I think u know how to build it by looking at the photo.

The tricky thing is.... u need to buy 3 small stages...

and all the stage/ metal frame are connected with a wooden block

the circuit in a small plastic box (photo) is a variable DC voltage supply, u can use any similar things instead.

Step 2: DIY GRBL Shield

Picture of DIY GRBL Shield

I am using easydriver for controlling the movement of the stepping motor.

Some website said GRBL support not only Arduino Uno but also Duemilanove, nano.....

So I wonder I can make a shield for easily testing those arduino.

First, I screw the easydriver on a plastic stick, then solder them with wire.

Second, I allow the easydriver connect with arduino by pins (for easy configuration)

Third, I screw the plastic stick on a standard arduino shield and the whole things now can be plug and play with any arduino that come with GRBL.

I had soldered IRF510 for controlling the on/off of the lazer on the shield, together with power jack.

Step 3: Sharing...

1. I try to make 3-axis CNC miller first with CDROM.... however, the final product really big in size.... if u are interested please watch the video....

2. I make this 3-axis lazer cutter because I can still cut paper whatever the platform is not leveling. just repeat the gcode with different depth...

3. Grbl Controller 3.5 is great but if u are using Arduino Duemilanove, there might be some problems on communication. Also, Grbl controller may have problems in interpret G-code generate from inkscape. If so, please using other sender...

Step 4: About Using the Stage

Picture of About Using the Stage

The stage is tricky to use...

U need to drill holes by yourself. (Photo 1)

Also, the gap between the slide and base is little (Photo 2,3), so I drill one hole twice...

first, using appropriate drill size to drill a hole; and the second time I use a large one to make a hole for accommodate the screw head (Photo 4). So, it also the slider move without blocking by the screw head. (using flat-top screw)

For the stage, all the metal parts is not fix on the epoxy well (the epoxy is fragile), so the better way is using "wooden block" as medium (the epoxy parts are clamp tight between the wooden board and the screw). Also, if u using wooden board as medium, the holes you drill does not need to be very accurate, because u can make fine-adjustment (leveling) on the wooden board and the body frame.

Last but not least, the maximum movable distance is only achieved by applying object with similar width on the top of the slider (Photo 5), so, I can apply a larger working platform after I had added a wooden board (similar width) on the top of the slider.

Step 5: Acting As Pen Plotter

Picture of Acting As Pen Plotter

This project can convert to pen plotter by replace the lazer diode with writing instrument.



Shanjaq (author)2015-08-07

Help! How do you connect to that teeny-tiny tape-wire on the motor stage? I gave up trying to solder to the plastic tape-wire and have now ruined 2 motors trying to desolder the tape-wire from the motor itself to add my own wires (the posts themselves are held in place with solder!) :(

IonizedCat made it! (author)Shanjaq2016-05-03

I used a scalpel to separate the wires carefully and used a terminal strip to connect the motor wires to other wires.

rpotts2 (author)Shanjaq2015-11-08

Just remove the tape at the motor. use a 4 strand ribbon cable as a replacement. much easier to solder wire than tape.

kokpat (author)Shanjaq2015-08-07

I fully understand the situation, It is better to solder it on the tape.

Ammar Atef Ali (author)2016-02-09

can i buy lazer can be used for cutting wood?

kokpat (author)Ammar Atef Ali2016-02-09

Even 1W laser can't cut wood.

Ammar Atef Ali (author)kokpat2016-02-10

what will do then?

space_pac (author)Ammar Atef Ali2016-03-17

With 1 W you can cut Paper

curtis.newton.104203 (author)2015-06-21

and where did you get the lazer ? what reference ?

Since I live in Hong Kong, I brough lazer from China.
Normally, 100mW or 200mW can use for engrave something.
But none of them can use to cut wood or plastics.

lol, lo idea wich one to choose, it's all chinese or something

curtis.newton.104203 (author)2015-07-05

wahat about protective glasses , did you use any?

bparker2 (author)2014-10-25

Hi How did you work out the steps per revolution on your steppers?

kokpat (author)bparker22014-10-27

For the stepping motor, u can refer to the following pdf.

Since the pitch of the motor is mainly 3mm or 2mm, the value is 53.333 or 80.
For detail step of calculation u can refer to the following link

penelopeblue_330 (author)2014-08-04

I'm planning to make one. this is so rare that you've got a z-axis. can u try and cut acrylics with the reciprocating laser concept? it moves the laser up and down to compensate for the laser's low power and missed focus (due to the thickness of materials). it'll be fascinating if a mini-walts laser can cut acrylics, even though time is needed in excess.


kokpat (author)penelopeblue_3302014-08-05

I had read the reciprocating laser concept before I make this lazer cutter.
However, I did not have "enough time" to cut a really thick acrylics.
The z-axis actually using reciprocating laser concept which compensate the leveling problem of lazer cutting by repeating cutting.
Also, this z-axis also make it as a pen plotting without much modification.

penelopeblue_330 (author)kokpat2014-08-22

just 3mm.. is the diode powerful enough?

another curious question to ask

kokpat (author)penelopeblue_3302014-08-24

I don't think 100mW can make a perfect cut of plastic....


penelopeblue_330 (author)kokpat2014-08-24

哈哈 他鄉遇知音

marcelo.mugen.5 (author)2014-08-23

Great project, awesome!

kokpat (author)marcelo.mugen.52014-08-24

Thank you very much.

djmelvinv (author)2014-07-22

Hi nice instructable! I've built my onw cnc milling machine but it's running on a printer port. Arduino is easy for me but there is one thing I don't understand. With an arduino uno I can upload a sketch. duration about 5 to 10 seconds. But how does de uno work in this cnc proces? I've read about uploading some firmware or something. But then when you upload a gcode it overwrites the uploaded firmware right?? second option I thought it worked could be uploading de firmware an send in realtime the gcode from your Pc trough usb to arduino and arduino drives the stepper drivers and motors. If this is the way it works.. then whats about the 5 to 10 seconds?
Can you please explane the workflow. very much.

kokpat (author)djmelvinv2014-07-22

Arduino itself contain 2K size "bootloader" to "understand" sketch.

This CNC using GRBL.

GRBL overwrite this "bootloader" as firmware. (GRBL can memorize the CNC parameter, even power-off)

This GRBL firmware interprete G-codes files and control the motion of the stepping motor.

So, U still need a PC to produce G-codes files.

and u can not upload any sketch to this Arduino because it did not know what is "sketch" anymore.

(so if u don't want to use GRBL, u need to burn "bootloader" manually)

djmelvinv (author)kokpat2014-07-23

oooh of course. The bootloader. now I get it. So a spare atmega 328 can be an empty on. Thanks!

djmelvinv (author)djmelvinv2014-07-22

I mean thank you very much

Itamare (author)2014-07-02

Hey, Great project!

Can you please explain about the laser diode power supply? i'm planning to build the same. and i'm trying to find the parts.

did you use grbl shield? i cant see it in the pictures, i saw only easydriver.

sorry, its suppose to be my first 3d printer project. dont know much about the parts.

thank you

kokpat (author)Itamare2014-07-02

Since the laser diode is only 100mW, it is integrated with the power supply circuit and is powered from 3V to 5V DC.

The working current is ~400mA, have a look here.

I did not use grbl shield, grbl is only the firmware installed in arduino, and the easydriver provide the power for the motor and control the direction and step of it.

styxswimmer22 (author)2014-06-28

When configuring grbl, what did you calculate the steps per mm ($0, $1, $2 I think) of those stages as? I have the same ones but the lack of proper datasheet is making it difficult to work out :(

kokpat (author)styxswimmer222014-06-29

the above article teach u how to calculate the value.

Simply say, if u use the same motor as me, it will be 53.3333 is the pitch of the screw is 3mm, the value will be 90 is the pitch of the screw is 2mm.

kokpat (author)2014-04-08

I had upload GRBL 0.8c to the arduino by xloader, so, the GRBL program will replace the original bootloader of arduino. (GRBL software

However, u need to complie the GRBL software to hex (format) before upload to the arduino. It is a kind of DOS work... If u need the complied file, just email me.

3-axis is great in behavior as pen plotter. U don't need to screw tight the marker pen.

U can simply tie the end of the marker pen with a rubber band and that is....

I am uploading a new video to youtube, maybe later u can watch it.

ade angelis (author)kokpat2014-04-09

That would be great if you could email me the precompiled hex file, as I couldn't manage to compile it propoerly yesterday! Thanks a lot! :) Nice video btw!!

kokpat (author)ade angelis2014-04-09

Here is the GRBL 0.8c Hex file.

ade angelis (author)kokpat2014-04-10

Thank you, I will try it as soon as I build the mini cnc! I'm still studying the theory!! :D Have a good day! :D

kokpat (author)2014-04-08

Here is the pen-plotter look like....

ade angelis (author)kokpat2014-04-09

Thank you, I've read the other instructable! what's the code you used to control it?

kokpat (author)ade angelis2014-04-09

I use Gcode to write capital "A".

It is produced by inkscape + gcodetools, u can find tutorial in youtube.

The sender program is Universal Gcode sender, it can feed arduino with gcode.

ade angelis (author)kokpat2014-04-09

Thank you very much!!!

electro18 (author)2014-04-04

Awesome Project :D , voted !

andrea biffi (author)2014-03-25

well done, great project!

soilwork (author)2014-03-22

don't worry about writhing your knowledge in English , do it in your main language,, if the people really want to learn they I'll use Google translator or chrome plugin,,don't feel bad with commentary's saying why is not in English,,, they're to lazy to translate the page.

kokpat (author)soilwork2014-03-23



Snortimer (author)2014-03-20

I've seen in this Instructable, and a few places in the comments, an interest in cutting vinyl. With an extremely low-power laser like this one, it's probably not significant, but it can be dangerous to cut vinyl with a laser, as it produces toxic fumes. Those same fumes can also erode your optics, eventually requiring replacement of the optics and/or laser tube.

Again, with the low power output of this laser, the outgassing is minimal, but it is something to keep in mind. There are mechanical CNC cutters in the consumer market that can cut vinyl safely, such as the Cricut Explore (we own a different Cricut, and there are other machines, such as the Silhouette Cameo, as well). These do cost more than the parts list for this laser cutter, though.

I really like this Instructable, and I might even try it myself! Great job, and don't be discouraged by naysayers!

kokpat (author)Snortimer2014-03-21

Thx u very much.

I am a hobbyist, and it is my first time to making 3-axis machine. I wish my son (4 years old, ha ha !) will have the skill of mastering CNC and 3D printing, but there is no other reason for me to buy one at home. After I saw the one made from old CD ROM, I think maybe I can make one. So, I start from zero... reading a lot of posts....and finally, I made this.

I believe only maker can understand the happiness of making something, and I just want to share my design for all. From now, I have a chance to learn and practice how to use drawing software and preparing G-code.

BTW, I do not know "Cricut" before, thx u, it is very interesting... I love it.


dmassote (author)2014-03-19

congratulations. I wish I would have the skills to build one for me.

do you think it is possible for it to write on wood? also, if you have some sort of fan, maybe you could remove the dust while writing. I think a cpu cooler would do the job.

your instructable is well done. we can follow all steps and understand everything. don't let the bad critics hit you. I wonder if these people speak other language than english.

kokpat (author)dmassote2014-03-19

Thx, you are very kind.

It is time consuming for writing instructable because there is no official name for the materials, especially those very cheap things.

Anyway, I had specially record a video and take a photo about writing on a piece of wood. 100mW lazer can make a sharp image especially repeat the route or using slower feed rate.

Thx for your encourage. Cheers.

kokpat (author)kokpat2014-03-19

For more information, due to the short moving distance of the stage, popsicle is a good choice of wood for laser engraving.

marcoboers (author)2014-03-19

Great job! Wonder if you could share a material list?

kokpat (author)marcoboers2014-03-19

I had shared in the comment.

The other can see it in photo.


Victor805 (author)2014-03-18

Now I've seen it I want to make one to cut circuit designs out of vinyl adhesive sheets and to stick them on pcb's to make a defined etch without effort.

mario59 (author)2014-03-16


You did a fantastic job! congratulation for it's semplicity.

Can you show me where you bought the blue/violet laser?



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