CNC Laser for Printing Images and Engraving - Shapeoko 2 based

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If you own or plan to build a Shapeoko 2 CNC Milling Machine, this Instructable will walk you through the steps necessary to be able to add a 2 watt laser capable of printing grey-scale images on many surfaces. You will also find details on how to engrave at full power.

I will take you through all of the steps necessary to build your laser, to control it from the Shapeoko 2's GRBL CNC controller, including modifications needed to the controller's software to enable gray-scale output by varying the laser intensity. I will walk you through the software for photo engraving as well as engraving of more traditional Shapeoko / MakerCAM / Inkscape images.

Though I would personally love to own an Epilog Laser, this Instructable will guide you through building a tool that can do many of the same things albeit at a slower speed. It is a great tool for any Maker and you will find hundreds of uses!


If you follow the instructions in this Instructable, it is absolutely necessary to obtain AND use proper eye protection. A 2 watt laser can blind you instantly! It can also start a fire and quickly ruin anything it is focused on! DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS PROJECT WITHOUT TAKING ALL NECESSARY SAFETY PRECAUTIONS AND WITHOUT FULLY UNDERSTANDING THE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH USING A HIGH POWER LASER AND CNC MACHINERY. YOU ONLY HAVE ONE SET OF EYES, DON'T RUIN THEM!

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electro182 months ago
Impressive ! Can it cut patterns from a sheet of paper / cardboard too ?
als_liahona (author)  electro181 month ago

Just to follow-up on this question, I used this a few days ago to cut a 12" star (using makercam) from vinyl. It was used as a mask when I painted the nose cone in this 6" diameter, 102" tall high power rocket...


That looks pretty awesome :) ! and congratulations on your win !

als_liahona (author)  electro182 months ago
Yes, it definitely can cut patterns from paper or cardboard. The only question is how slow to make the feed rate given the thickness of what is being cut. Since you are burning it, you might need to make more than one pass at a higher feed rate to keep from burning the edges around it too much.

That's great !

als_liahona (author) 1 month ago

Yes, I think it should work fine. The reason for selecting the FlexMod P3 is the modulation support. A PWM pulse on the Mod input allows you to vary the laser intensity. I don't actually use the output loop monitor or the interlock option IIRC.

imont1 month ago

About the FlexMod P3 the store said this:

This product is no longer in stock with those attributes but is available with others.

whit the optinion interlock,output loop monitor,

there is only with the option: standby supression kit. Is this ok for the Project?

anectine2 months ago

can you add a 4th axis to burn around round objects like pens?

als_liahona (author)  anectine2 months ago

Others have experimented with this, but, it requires a different controller. The GShield can only control 3 axis. Here is an example discussion on the Shapeoko forums:

carlos66ba2 months ago

Don't look at the beam with your REMAINING eye :)

seamster2 months ago

Oh my, this is so cool. Way, way impressive!

Deep Asleep2 months ago
I'm going to make a tardis when I get on