CNC Laser for Printing Images and Engraving - Shapeoko 2 based

FeaturedContest Winner

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!

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Other than the Flexmod P3, is there another laser driver that will work, or a good schematic to build one?

electro1810 months ago
Impressive ! Can it cut patterns from a sheet of paper / cardboard too ?
als_liahona (author)  electro185 months ago

Yes, definitely. Sometimes it takes more than one pass depending on thickness and color, etc.

als_liahona (author)  electro189 months 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)  electro1810 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 !

reyesmoreno7 months ago

Hey be carefull the site only charges your credicard but does not send the product or answer the mesages. You can search in internet many people have done the same thing. Not answer messages, telephone or email. no way you refound the money, your lost your money and credicard information.

als_liahona (author)  reyesmoreno5 months ago

Try one of these drivers:

They have additional safety features, and they will work with PicLaserLite using a new GRBL hex file that integrates my changes for controlling intensity, adapted to their driver. You can also pick up laser modules from them and laser safety glass, etc.

The next best option for the Flexmod P3 is this analog/TTL driver.

als_liahona (author) 5 months ago

Author's Note: I recently found this website and tool for making
gcode. It looks very promising! I've not tried it yet but will soon. I
think the only edit necessary will be to change the letter S to Z (to
change from spindle speed to Z-axis), after turning on $L1 laser mode.

There are instructions for use on the page.

als_liahona (author)  als_liahona5 months ago

Yes, it should be able to remove the paint coating. Nevertheless, it may take some experimentation to get right -- it may take more than one pass, and depending on the coating you may fixed results.

You can also try spraying the lighter with Dry Moly and then marking it. The dry moly will change and to yellow/gold where it is hit with the laser. You could probably leave it on the lighter, or try to remove it with acetone. It works on tile but takes a few passes to look good.

NURKABIL5 months ago


what the type of laser can i use

i want to know if the laser removes the powder coated paint from the surface of the Zippo Lighter to reveal the bare brass metal underneath.

like this video on youtube

Lirankri8 months ago


I'm trying to create a cnc laser myself and using your project as a referance.

first of all, i have to say you did a great work and i can't wait for my laser machine to work that well.

anyway, i'm having a lot of troubles. i bet you could help me.

1. i downloaded the HEX file from the github directory with the laser mode. i flashed it to my arduino using Xloader and tried to access the arduino using Grbl Controller 3.6.1. it returned a "No data from com port after connect, Expected a grbl virsion string". could the hex file be corrupted?

2. my machine using a CoreXY mechnism. and I have a working GRBL HEX file to run the steppers with the CoreXY configuration. my question is which files should i replace in the CoreXY directiory with files from your LaserMode directory in order to get bot CoreXY motion and Lase Mode Feature.

3. after i merged the files, how do I generate an HEX file to flash into my arduino.

I'm not a programmer, so i'm sorry if my questions sound trivial, but i'm experiancing a lot of frustration with this machine.

I would really appreciat your help.

If you'd like i can show you my machine (and my problems) on a video chat,

Best Regards

Liran Ankri

als_liahona (author) 10 months 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.

imont10 months 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?

anectine10 months ago

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

als_liahona (author)  anectine10 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:

carlos66ba10 months ago

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

seamster10 months ago

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

Deep Asleep10 months ago
I'm going to make a tardis when I get on