The Shapeoko 2 is an Open Hardware desktop CNC mill. Complete kits may be purchased online or you can acquire the parts and build a customized version of the Shapeoko 2 to fit your needs. Details of the Shapeoko 2 can be found at http://www.shapeoko.com/.
When I built my Shapeoko 2 from the full kit offered by Inventables.com, I ordered several of the upgrades. For this project you will not need most of them. In particular, if you plan to follow the instructions in this project that allow for gray-scale image printing by varying laser intensity, don't install the limit switches. Limit switches may be added but it will require additional changes to the GRBL controller so that they can be sensed on a different Arduino pin. (More to follow in additional steps.)
The upgraded wasteboard is helpful. I purchased the Drag Chain upgrade but found no use for it. You will notice in my photos that I've run most of the cables through a small piece of PVC pipe attached with cable ties. This has worked very well.
In my opinion, the GShield Enclosure and fan are very useful upgrades.
If you don't already have an operational Shapeoko 2, this is your first step. Assemble it according to the directions on the Shapeoko website. Run the "marker" test. You don't need the spindle for this project, but having it will make your Shapeoko 2 more valuable. After following the instructions in this Instructable, the laser can be easily removed when you want to do CNC milling with the spindle.
One final note on the Shapeoko 2: The instructions provide methods of wiring the machine that do not require soldering. I chose to solder and then heat-shrink all of the wires that were connected, to provide for a longer lasting solution.
In addition to a functional Shapeoko 2, you will need the following supplies:
- A 2W Copper 445nm M140 Blue Laser Module ($63 on e-Bay)
- Don't get a module that has a built-in driver designed for use in a laser pointer, unless you only intend to engrave at full power. The module I purchased included:
- The M140 445nm 2 watt Laser Diode, with soldered wires attached
- A machined casing
- A 3-element glass lens. You may wish to use the G-2 lens, but others have reported that this is not necessary and it may over-power the laser to the point where it will be more difficult to get lighter (gray) burns.
- These modules can usually be found on e-Bay or from DTR's Laser Shop.
- Though not currently (8/18/2014) listed on the main page, in the past the full modules were listed and available on this site.
- A FlexMod P3 Laser Driver ($35.99 from InnoLasers)
- A small piece of 1" x 1/16" Aluminum Angle (cut with a hack saw to 3 1/4")
- Most local hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowes carry these
- 2 10-24 3/8" socket screws
- 2 10-24 1/2" bolts (size here doesn't matter too much as long as you can tap a while to match)
- Various bolts / screws may be useful. I used several 8-32 bolts.
- A piece of 1" 6061-T6 Aluminum Bar
- Note: Making this piece requires the use of a metal lathe. If you do not have access to a metal lathe you can purchase a separate heat sink designed to work with your laser module, or you can use alternate construction techniques to adapt a CPU cooler to properly hold your laser module.) I'll show you how I did it, but this part isn't critical -- what is critical is that you keep your laser module cool!
- A CPU Cooler suitable for holding and ventilating your laser module.
- I used an inexpensive MASSCOOL Model 9T288B1M3G which is compatible with Intel Socket LGA 478 CPUs. I found this at a local computer parts store.
- Note: The important thing here is to have a way to transfer heat from the laser module to keep it cool. The CPU cooler is also convenient in that it provides a fan for additional cooling and for ventilating away smoke produced by burning (caused by the laser hitting it's target), and because it is easy to mount to the Shapeoko 2.
- A power supply for you CPU fan (if used) - A simple wall wart that outputs the proper voltage for the CPU fan (usually 12 volts) will suffice.
- A power supply for your FlexMod P3 Laser Driver. If you want a setup like mine, you can use an HQ Power PS1503SB, adjustable DC power supply. This power supply is helpful because it shows the current draw -- which is a good indication of how much power is going to your laser diode. Nevertheless, a 6 to 9 volt wall-wart providing DC power will suffice. (I keep my power supply set at 6 volts.)
- Laser Safety Goggles for 445nm Lasers! Don't skimp here, you only have one set of eyes. Make sure to have a separate pair of safety goggles for ANYONE that may be in the same room when the laser is in use! I personally use 2 different types of goggles, sometimes wearing both pair at once to provide additional protection. One of the types I uses is "Eagle Pair® 190-540nm & 900-1700nm Laser Safety Goggles". These can be purchased from survival-laser. Note that the are CE certified OD 4+.
- Various misc. hardware and tools, including drill bits and taps, a die for threading, saws, etc.
- Hacksaw or metal cutting bandsaw (unless you make a different laser module mount/heatsink)
- Drill Press (You might be able to get by with a hand drill)
- Metal Lathe able to turn 1" bar stock. (See the "Laser Mount" page for details on options that do not require this tool.)
- Soldering Iron and good solder