Introduction: Convert a 3D PRINTER to LASER ENGRAVER | Under 40$

Picture of Convert a 3D PRINTER to LASER ENGRAVER | Under 40$

What is up everybody, in this Instructable I am going to show you, how you can convert your 3D printer to a fully functional laser engraver for less that 40$

Step 1: Buying a Suitable Laser

Picture of Buying a Suitable Laser

- To start this project we are gonna need a laser that is strong enough to burn into most of the household materials. I found that 500 mw laser is just right for this project due to its low price and capability of engraving in almost every material with exception of metals and glass.

-I bought my laser on Aliexpress for a small price. Here is the link:

-With laser you will also get a laser driver circuit and a safety glasses which are necessarry when operating with lasers.

Step 2: Mounting the Laser

Picture of Mounting the Laser

- So I firstly removed a small fan which was attached to the plastic mount and I unscrew a 3d printer hot-end from the same acrilic mount.

- Then I cut 2 zip ties that were holding a 3d printing belt in place and remove the last screw so we can finally drill 2 holes in the plastic mount.

- Laser module had 4 holes pre-drilled so I just needed to mark down the spots where I drilled two 3mm holes on my drill press.

-I used 2 small screw which I found in my screw collection box but you can also use 2 screws from the fan that is attached in the back of the laser module.

- Now I put everything back together and secure the belt with a new pair of zip ties.

Step 3: Calibration and Starting Point

Picture of Calibration and Starting Point

- After installing everything back, connect the laser input voltage to the 3d printer motherboard's fan port. I will explain why we did this step later in the video.

- This is the scheme of the laser driver that we received with the laser. Connect the fan on the laser to the cooling fan port, laser to the laser port and those 2 wires from the 3d printer motherboard to the 12v power port. Leave the TTL port unplugged because we won't need it.

- Now simply turn on the fan in 3d printer settings and autohome all axes

- Remember that you will need to adjust the focal length to the height of the engraved subject.

- The final step is to engrave a small starting origin in the painters tape so we could know where is the zero of x and y axes.

Step 4:

Picture of

- Engraving software that I am using is called Inkscape and you can download it through the link:

- You will also need a plugin for Inkscape called inkscape laser tool plug-in which is also linked here:

- Download both files, install the inkscape and copy the files of inkscape plugin tool to the extensions folder of the inkscape program.

- In the program firstly define your printing bed diameters and drag desired logo that you want to engrave. Set it's x and y to 0 and vectorize the image using trace bitmap command: Path -> Trace Bitmap

-Now simply go to: Extensions -> generate laser G-code -> J Tech... and set the laser on/off commands to M106 which is the command for turning on and off the fan port on which we connected our laser.

-Laser speed is also very important and I fount that the perfect speed is from 100 to 300 mm per minute.

Step 5: Testing and Engraving

Picture of Testing and Engraving

- When our G-code is ready, drag it to the Sdcard and print that G-code in the 3d printer menu.

- We can easily cut any type of paper and the best part is that you can engrave your logo in any leather, wooden or plastic material.

- You can also cut foam and engrave anything on your smartphone case or tablet.

- If you want to engrave faster there is always an option of buying even more powerful laser but It will also cost you twice as much money.

That would be all, thank you for reading this instructable, If you like it please also consider clicking on the video below of how I do it and enjoy the great music.

Thank you!!!


Richardt131 (author)2017-10-19

this 500mw laser has the spec power < 2 A. There is another laser for nice price 2.5W, link under this comment. This has the spec power > 2 A, can this also hooked up to the fan port or would this do damage ?


Juan CarlosR9 (author)2017-05-10

The measurements of the orientation points for me are wrong. The point (100.0) is actually in (354.0)

I think you are using Inkscape 0.92. Try version 0.91 because the 0.92 has an scaling bug.

TGC TECH (author)2017-06-07

Hello, I am having a problem where my .GCODE files are blank, I am using the text tool in inkscape to attempt to engrave the URL of my website into flash drives for my clients

JUAN MANUELH12 (author)2017-04-21

Does anyone know what type of laser and power needed can cut 2mm thick carbon fiber? I am interested in cutting a 2mm carbon fiber board to make drone parts and aeromodelling

MiroslavI6 (author)2017-02-18

Everything works fine but I can't find way to generate gcode that fills contours

AndyC91 (author)MiroslavI62017-03-09

As far as I've read, this extension doesn't fill in space very well, just outlines. You'll probably need a different app for that unless there are some fine settings that can be adjusted somewhere.

AndyC91 (author)2017-03-09

I tried following your guide to converting my printer to a laser cutter, but I seem to be stuck. I have almost the same exact printer as the one you use in the video, (Mine is a Prusa i3 M201) so this should be pretty straight forward. I have my laser mounted, but when I connect the laser power to the same spot as you did in the video and turn the fan on, there is no power to the laser.

I tried plugging it into the second extruder port and turning on the second extruder (my printer doesn't actually have two to use anyway.) and the laser powered up fine.

So I looked up the manual for my printer and noticed that the port which you plugged the laser into is the "extruder 3" port according to the manual, but you said it was the motherboard fan port in the video. Could you clarify?

If it works to plug it into the second extruder port, then I don't mind doing that, but I don't know how to adjust the gcode to make that work.

Thanks. Overall it looks like a very good tutorial.

Shawn F (author)2016-11-08

Shortened url's are the devil man, please don't use them. No way for a user to know where they lead... the chance for malware is just simply to great.

Jakes workshop (author)Shawn F2016-11-08

I used short links with purpose so the link doesnt extend over half of the instructable and also to track how many click I get

gollumses (author)Jakes workshop2017-01-15

I understand why YOU used a shortened URL, but nobody here knows that you are an honest person. Shortened URLs look very suspicious to many people knowledgeable about Internet Security. I nor many people I know will click on a short URL from anybody we don't know. So, it doesn't matter why YOU used it. What matters is what the rest of the world thinks. Not trying to be rude, just honest. You might want to find a different way to track clicks.

gollumses (author)gollumses2017-01-15

Got caught up in the URL thing, and forgot to say Nice Instructable. :-)

Ambrogio (author)Shawn F2016-11-09


when I do live preview I do not see any image.

is it correct ?


Jakes workshop (author)Ambrogio2016-11-09

What is the format of your picture(jpg, png?) you need to use for example black logo with transparent backgroud saved in .png file

Ambrogio (author)Jakes workshop2016-11-11

thanks a lot: it is OK now.

very good prject.


JakubN4 (author)2016-12-21

The gcode generation is not working for me... if i draw somethin in inkscrape, it is working, but if I import image, it generates only a mess... Does anybody know what to do?

JakubN4 (author)JakubN42016-12-22

SOLVED - the g code generator is using G1, G2 and G3 commands for movement. For my Ormerod 2 only G1 is workig, so I replaced all G2 and G3 commands in gcode with G1 (find & replace). Now everything is working! Maybe it will be helpfull for somebody :)

LoganM36 (author)2016-11-29

The gcode generation from J Tech isn't playing nicely with my Delta-style robot. Any suggestions?

innomind (author)2016-11-28

Is there a way to install this laser on a Makerbot Replicator 2X? Has anyone done it?

hdcaro (author)2016-11-09

Thank you for your project. What 3D printer did you use?

Jakes workshop (author)hdcaro2016-11-09

I have prusa i3 sunhokey

hdcaro (author)Jakes workshop2016-11-10

I wonder how much would you charge to built one?

Hiram Caro

Jakes workshop (author)hdcaro2016-11-10

mail me at:

hdcaro (author)Jakes workshop2016-11-09

Thank you for your information.

I wonder how much would you charge to built one?

Hiram Caro

Jakes workshop (author)hdcaro2016-11-09

mail me at :

jlcdi (author)2016-11-06

Thank you for sharing this very interesting project.

Does anybody know if this power is sufficient for cutting polycarbonate or acrylic sheets ( 4, 5, 6, 10 mm thick) ?

And if not, what would be the needed power ?

Thank you for your help.

Jakes workshop (author)jlcdi2016-11-06

you cannot do this with 500mw or it would take 1000 passes to cut a small groove, Try using 2-3 w lasers

jlcdi (author)Jakes workshop2016-11-07

Thanks for your precisions.

sephiroth180 (author)jlcdi2016-11-07

you would need closer to a 30W CO2 laser to do that

jlcdi (author)sephiroth1802016-11-08

Thank you sephiroth. That's what I now understand I'll have to do. Do you have any idea of the cutting ability for a 30W CO2 laser ? Which thickness for polycarbonate, and for metal (alu, steel) ?

sephiroth180 (author)jlcdi2016-11-09

No metal, a 40W co2 laser can cut 3/8" polycarb or acrylic with a couple passes

soilwork (author)jlcdi2016-11-07

Hi jlcdi , if your plastic sheets are transparent or white you can no cut either with visible lasers. You need to use a setup or build a machine with a Co2 laser instead, you can cut black or dark plastics with 4w-6w using visible lasers but is only recomended to cut 3-4mm thick. These 5-6w lasers must be a good quality laser not cheap chinese laser because they are annunced as 5w but they can only pull 2.5w-3w.

jlcdi (author)soilwork2016-11-08

How to do to cut transparent polycarbonate sheets ?

soilwork (author)jlcdi2016-11-08

Whit a laser CO2 Up to 4mm using 40w for 5mm to 10mm thicknes you need like 60w-80w, 10mm-20mm can be made with 80w-120w Co2 laser tube, and of course with cnc any dremel can cut up to 5mm-6mm, a router like 6A to 15A with a good cutter bit can cut 20mm.

soilwork (author)soilwork2016-11-08

I meant WITH but I don't know why I can't edit the comment :P

jlcdi (author)soilwork2016-11-08

Hi soilwork, thank you for this valuable information. I'll definitely have to find another way to do that, maybe the purchase of a small CO2 laser cutting machine.

Ambrogio (author)2016-11-08

good project.

I am having problem with Inkscape since i do have a message after the last passage. Could you please indicate the step by step procedure starting from the logo inport step?



Jakes workshop (author)Ambrogio2016-11-08

hi Ambrogio, where did you get stuck in Inkscape?

Ambrogio (author)Jakes workshop2016-11-09

Thanks for having reply to me. I do have a picture on inkscape but when i go to path\trace bitmap then I do not see my picture. I do suspect the picture extesion could not be OK: What format should it have ? Could please indicate all the steps in inkscape to the final laser GCODE ?

Thanks again


Jakes workshop (author)Ambrogio2016-11-09

Hi, When you import your image go to path -> trace bitmap. When a box pop up click on live preview to you image and then click ok. Now you image is vectorised. After that simply go to extensions -> generate laser code -> j tech photonic laser tool. In the box select your needed preferences and export a g-code.

Hawk I (author)2016-11-06

Really amazing Jake. Do you it is possible to make a pcb with a laser engraver? How many mw are enought for this work?

soilwork (author)Hawk I2016-11-08

Hi Hawk you need at least 2w but real watts not chinese watts I know thats sounds weird but the chinese or the cheap "very cheap" laser modules are less power than rated, with 2w and just 1 pass at 180mm/min to 200mm/min "Feedrate" you can burn black mate coat on a PCB surface and works very great. I´m making an instructable of that process here's an advance

marcwolf (author)Hawk I2016-11-06

There is a way but you do need a more powerful laser (4-5w) What you do is spray a blank PCB with a Very thin layer of black paint, and then burn that off with the laser. The end results being the remaining paint is the resist.
Also consider using the laser to make the solder masks out of mylar too.

Jakes workshop (author)Hawk I2016-11-06

I am glad you like it :) For etching you will need very strong CO2 laser 20-40W which is totally different game that 500mW chinese laser:)

Ambrogio (author)2016-11-08

I am leaving my email address just in case someone would post details on how to go on with inkscape.... I have installed the plugin and it is there OK.

No way for me to get the file because of the message.

Thanks for all


timzebo (author)2016-11-07

Well done!!! Thank you, Jake!!!

soilwork (author)2016-11-07

This instructable is great to all who wants this duality on his 3D printer. And for those who wants to buy a laser buy a 2w or powerfull laser, try to buy the diode in ebay from DTR's shop (US), is way cheaper and better quality compared to the chinese all in one modules. With a 2w laser the things get usefull an you can get profit with that. I hope the author don't get mad with me to posting a link to my instructable here but may help to some one. one:

Jakes workshop (author)soilwork2016-11-07

thank you Soilwork for support :) Of course I am not mad(wtf? :P) I am glad you are trying to help people about their problems :)

tonyfoale (author)2016-11-06

Nice idea. i don't have a 3D printer but I could fit it to my CNC mill. I saw mention that 500mW is not enough for metals, does that mean that it won't even mark them or just that it won't burn deep?

soilwork (author)tonyfoale2016-11-07

You need to use YAG laser to engrave metal :), even a Co2 laser need at least 300w-400w to make a scrath on metal surfaces.

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