Introduction: How To: Laser Engraver!
We've all seen videos or instructables showing off laser cut objects and projects, and i'm also sure that those of us who are makers have wondered how much one of those machine would cost. Sadly any sort of powerful cutter would be way out of my budget, but as I was only looking for a machine that can cut thin materials like paper, card and thin leather, I stumbled upon this engraver, it is a kit bought from Gearbest in china.
you can buy the laser here:Gearbest - laser engraver
IMPORTANT: This is not sponsored, Gearbest sent me an item to review, they did not pay me additionally and i only express my own views, this instructable is not to promote the machine, it is to let people use it as there are no other instructions.
update: both the benbox and the GRBL controllers seem to have broken download links, there are two alternate programs that i can suggest: lite fire laser: this is a different piece of software that i find that works with this machine, but make sure that you have a machine running windows 7 or higher. that can be found here: (i will find this link soon) Another alternative that is harder to use but works is the universal gcode sender, watch tinkernuts video on how to use it. it can be found here: LINK - gcode sender
Step 1: Gather Your Materials:
in the kit you should get:
(1.) 5 aluminium extrusions (2 small, 3 large)
(2.) 3 nema17 stepper motors
(3.) a box of screws, timing belt, pulleys and washers
(4.) various 4mm acrylic panels
(5.) 3 stepper control cables
(6.) a Grbl controller board
(7.) safety goggles
(8.) a laser!
(9.) a usb cable
(10.) some aluminium connectors
Step 2: Frame Assembly:
we will start the assembly by building the bottom rails that x carriage will roll upon:
(1.) aluminium bracket (picture 7)
(2.) medium bolts (labeled in picture 3)
(3.) 2 small aluminium extrusion (labeled in picture 6)
(4.) 2 large aluminium extrusions (labeled in picture 6)
(5.) nuts (labeled in picture 3)
(1.) push a nut into the groove on one of the grooves of the smaller bar, keep it about 1cm in.
(2.) put a bolt into one of the holes in the brackets.
(3.) screw the bracket onto the bolt in the recessed channel (picture 1)
(4.) repeat steps 1-3 for the other end and on both ends of the other small aluminium rod.
(5.) do step 1 on both ends of the larger extrusions and bolt the smaller extrusions onto them.
Step 3: Building the X Carriage
now that we have built the main frame we need to build the carriage that will run on it:
(1.) acrylic plates (picture 1)
(2.) long screws (picture 2)
(3.) 8 bearings
(4.) nuts ( labeled in picture 2)
(5.) 8 nylon washers (picture 3)
(6.) 2 nema17 stepper motors (picture 1)
(1.) push 4 of the long bolts into one of the acrylic plates (picture 5)
(2.) slide on one nylon washer onto each of the bolts (picture 6)
(3.) push one bearing onto each bolt and add a nut to hold it in place (picture 7)
(4.) bolt on a stepper motor using 4 small bolts
Step 4: Building the Laser Assembly
now we are going to build the laser assembly, this gets attaches to the two carriages we built in the last step:
(1.) 8 nylon washers (picture 2)
(2.) long bolts (picture 3)
(3.) 4 washers (labeled in picture 4)
(4.) 4 nuts (labeled in picture 2)
(5.) laser module (labeled in picture 7)
(6.) the two acrylic laser gantry plates
(1.) grab the long screws and push them into the 4 holes in the acrylic plate (picture 5)
(2.) insert a nylon spacer onto each of these rods (picture 5)
(3.) push a washer over the spacer (picture 6)
(4.) finally, add a spacer on each and push on the second acrylic plate along with some nuts (picture 4)
(5.) screw in 3 of the smaller bolts into the back of the laser and slide it on through the provided holes
Step 5: Bolting It All Together!
we have all of the main parts built, now all we have to do is combine them:
(1.) laser assembly (step 3)
(2.) 2 gantries (step 2)
(3.) some medium bolts (labeled in picture 3)
(4.) frame (step 1)
(5.) the remaining aluminium extrusion
(1.) slide the two gantries onto the frame (picture 1)
(2.) slide the laser assembly onto the remaining aluminium extrusion (picture 2) (ignore the belt for now)
(3.) bolt the laser slide onto both of the gantries (picture 4)
Step 6: Belts and Pulleys
now for the hardest bit: putting on and tightening the timing belts:
(1.) 6 acrylic belt fasteners ( picture 3+4)
(2.) 6 small bolts (labeled in picture 4)
(3.) 6 small nuts (labeled in picture 4)
(4.) timing belt
(1.) put the small bolt and nut through the small holes on all of the acrylic fasteners
(2.) slide a nut into the recess on the ends of all of the large aluminium extrusions.
(3.) push the timing belt up through one of the fasteners and using a medium bolt fasten it to the nut inside the recess. (picture 6)
(4.) push the belt under the washers on the laser assembly and feed it up and over the gear. (picture 6)
(5.) repeat step 3 on the other end, making sure that the belt is tight over the gear, then trim off the excess belt.
(6.) do this for both the y gantries.
Step 7: Finishing Up:
to finish the physical build of the laser we just need to add the end stops and the control board:
(1.) control board (picture 5)
(2.) acrylic end plates (picture 2)
(3.) medium bolts (labeled in picture 6)
(4.) acrylic face plate for the control board (picture 7)
(5.) small bolts and nuts for fastening the control board
(6.) stepper motor cables
(1.) screw the end plates onto the ends of the frame (picture 9)
(2.) bolt the control board onto the end plate (picture 3)
(3.) bolt on the faceplate to the standoffs on the control board
(4.) wire the steppers to the control board, plug the two gantry motors into the two sockets labeled y and plug the laser assembly motor into the socket marked x
(5.) plug the wire from the laser into the socket marked laser
(6.) be pleased with yourself that you built it! (picture 1)
Step 8: Software and Lasering:
all of the physical construction is done now, the final step is to configure and download the software;
the software can be found here: Benbox 3.0
update: benbox software seems to be unavailable try this, it is the open source GRBL software: http://zapmaker.org/projects/grbl-controller-3-0/
(1.) plug the laser in
(2.) go into the blue menu in the software and press connect (labeled in picture 1)
(3.) find an image you want to laser, open it (labeled in picture 1)
(4.) press play
(5.) let the lasering commence!
note: you may need to adjust the speed, power and cut type to optimise you engravings (these can be found in the blue menu)
picture 2: a stamp i engraved for stamping stuff. :)
picture 3: an ending for my video on this (sadly i never put this in)
picture 4: one of my tests of the outline feature in the benbox software