Introduction: Low Cost Reliable & Powerfull Laser Engraver

Picture of Low Cost Reliable & Powerfull Laser Engraver

I've seen many Laser Engraver models on Instructables. I wanted to build my own style, inspired by what I've seen.

Especially this one :

After many time and efforts, I've came to something pleasant to use and reliable.

The maximum POWER is 3W. But usually I stay to 2W to save my LASER DIODE, and to be honest the difference between 2 & 3 Watts is not really obvious.

What else ? This instructable will give you an overview of what is possible to do with few material and money.

I suppose you already know GRBL and how to use Inkscape etc ... to produce GCODE files.

I won't give also many details on the electronic. This post is not exhaustive and I will probably add more information in the future because I admit it is not precise enough to build my machine easily.

I added here :

- All the STL files ready to print

- GRBL with my configuration

- the laser engraving plugin I use with Inkscape

- The very important Bill of material. You can find almost everything on Aliexpress. I bought the laser module from DTR's Laser Shop in USA.

- The eagle files to make a MOSFET module to SWITCH ON-OFF the laser. I recommand OSH Park to print the board.

Step 1:

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Take 2 rods and 4 rail shaft supports

Step 2:

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  • Assemble 2 rail shaft supports with 2 rods
  • Take then 4 bearing

Step 3:

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Assemble the 4 bearings & the 2 remaining shaft holders

Step 4:

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Prepare the laser cut plates (carriage holders)

Step 5:

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  • Assemble the plates
  • Use M4-16mm length screws

Step 6:

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  • Prepare 4 new shaft supports and M5-20mm screws with nuts
  • Assemble the shaft supports

Step 7:

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  • Assemble the X rods and check that the Y movement is smooth and easy
  • Next, prepare the 2 X bearings, 8 M4-16mm screws, the 3D printed X carriage
  • Disassemble the X rods, and assemble again with the bearings and the carriage. Sorry guy I missed the photo for this step :-(

Step 8:

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Now it is time to screw the structure on the wooden plate ... not easy, be sure all the movements are not stressed and are still easy.

This photo is a little bit in advance, don't take care of the motors now.

Step 9: Assemble Motors + Supports

Picture of Assemble Motors + Supports
  • Assemble the 2 Y motors with their 3D printed support
  • Use M3 10mm screws
  • Screw them taking care to be well aligned

Step 10: Y Tensioners

Picture of Y Tensioners

Assemble the Y tensioners (use 5mm screws and nut) and screw them on the plate

Step 11:

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Prepare the Y Belt Holders and M3-25mm screws

It is time to cut and install the Y belts, not an easy job, be patient

Step 12: Install the X Motor

Picture of Install the X Motor

Somebody smart should have done that before

In our case :

  • unscrew a little bit the carriage to move it up and give space to install the motor
  • install the motor under the carriage
  • screw it with M3

Step 13: Prepare X Tensioner

Picture of Prepare X Tensioner
  • Tap the 3D part with an M4 screw, the plastic is tender enough to do that
  • Then slide the idler pulley to the M4 and fix the tensioner to he machine

Photos are missing, again sorry ...

Step 14: X Belt Holder

Picture of X Belt Holder
  • Prepare the parts for X Belt Holder
  • Tap the holes as shown in the picture with M3 screws
  • Tap also the 2 remaining holes (see next STEP)
  • Install the part

Step 15:

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Step 16: Cable Through

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Install the cable through

Step 17: Electronics

Picture of Electronics

Prepare :

  • 3 motor drivers
  • CNC shield
  • 11 jumpers (normally provided with the CNC shield)
  • arduino board

Then :

  • Install the jumpers as shown in picture 2. This will setup the motors to 16th micro-steps, and clone Y with A.
  • Plug the drivers, and assemble with the arduino.

Step 18: Electronics, Stepper Driver Heatsinks

Picture of Electronics, Stepper Driver Heatsinks

You need heatsinks, if not, the chips will overheat and your motors will miss steps.

Step 19: Electronics : Solder Connectors to the Motors Wires

Picture of Electronics : Solder Connectors to the Motors Wires

You can buy and assemble DUPONT connectors yourself to plug the motors on the CNC shield. It takes long and it is not easy to do.

I prefer to buy ready-to-use female-female straps, cut them in two parts and solder ...

Step 20: Electronics : First Test

Picture of Electronics : First Test

Now it is time to make a first test :

  • Plug the motors on the CNC shield
  • Install the power supply
  • Load GRBL on Arduino and make the machine move

It works ? Good, you're ready for the next steps

Step 21: Mount the Laser Holder

Picture of Mount the Laser Holder

Prepare :

- 3D printed laser holder

- 4 M3 screws + nuts

- Heatsink

- LaserModule

-> The Heatsink do not need to touch the 3D printed part because it becomes hot

Step 22: Mount the Fan Holder

Picture of Mount the Fan Holder

Prepare :

- 3D printed Fan Holder

- 4 M4 Screws

- Fan

Do :

- Drill 4 holes in the Fan Holder

- Tap them with one of the screws

- Fix then the Fan

Step 23: The Final Machine

Picture of The Final Machine

I made a laser cut box using the online software MakerCase.

I know this post lacks of details. Don't hesitate to contact me if you want more information.

Step 24: Samples

Picture of Samples

Step 25: Fan Holder Modified

Picture of Fan Holder Modified

I have modified the FAN HOLDER for a better cooling. I post here the STL file. Just print it and screw on the machine instead of the hold version.

Step 26: Upgrade

Picture of Upgrade

I made a new part for a stronger Y-Axis. My purpose was to ameliorate the accuracy of this axis.

Yes, I noticed that the X-axis is more precise. I still do not know why.

Indeed it didn't really work. But I noticed then with this new part that I do not need anymore 2 motors to drive the Y-axis. One is enough and it works good. So I have unplug the left motor.

I did then measurement tests again and yes !! Now Y-axis has the same accuracy than X :-)

So I recommend this upgrade ;-)


LiefSu (author)2017-05-25

hi code ?

mreza_asadii (author)2016-09-03

great job,thank you for sharing.
A question,what can be engrave with a 2W laser beam?honestly I'm making a CNC machine that I want to use for engraving too,I want to know a 10 Watt laser that I ordered for it(not received yet) how powerful it is.

rusty0101 (author)mreza_asadii2016-09-04

The question of what can be engraved with a given laser comes up fairly frequently. The problem is that the answer is dependent on more than just the power of a given laser. All that tells you is how much power the laser draws, and emits at it's focus point. Other factors include how reflective the target is in the frequencies of the laser. If you use a 2 watt red laser on black acrylic, you are going to get better results than if you attempt to use a 10 watt laser on a piece of aluminum foil. Besides the reflectivity, you also run into the question of heat transfer. a 2watt laser is likely to burn through wood because the wood will not transfer the heat absorbed from the laser faster than the material will suffer heat expansion related damage, where a 10 watt laser might have issues even etching polished metal.

Another factor is going to be how well collimated the laser is. Not how well focused it is, but over how deep of a space that focus extends. This laser is at a fixed height, and from experience with this type of a laser, I'd be surprised if it was well collimated. As a result it seems unlikely to me that it can cut more than about 1/4" or 8mm material, and more likely not much more than 1/8" or 4mm.

If you're thinking of going into cutting armor plate, you're probably not going to get the results you would like out of a 10 Watt laser. If you are looking to do custom engraving of grayscale images onto people's plastic iPhone cases, then you'll probably need far less than the 2-3 watts this instructable builds.

Have fun, get an assortment of materials to test, and try different power levels. And as always be safe. Your retina is not designed to move the heat generated by absorbing the light emitted by a 10 Watt, or even a 30 milliWatt laser fast enough from the absorption site to prevent damage.

mreza_asadii (author)rusty01012016-09-04

Thank you for nice details,how about time-delaying for beam while burning or engraving?i mean how fast X-Y motors should be actuated and move laser head over work space?is it earned by experience and depending on all these factors?

rusty0101 (author)mreza_asadii2016-09-04

Yes, to some degree. With some target material, you end up reaching a point of diminishing returns where taking more time doesn't give you any significant advantage, and of course costs you in time.

If you build a machine that matches the spcs someone else has built, you can share experience between the two of you, but you will probably find some differences even there. The differences between what you get with a different laser, or a different laser driver can also mean that one person's results won't match another's.

Disclaimer, I've been working on building my own, and this looks like a great starting point. (I have a lot of the parts, just rather busy with other projects.

CropSensei (author)rusty01012017-03-15

Since there is a mention of laser drivers in this thread, I'd like to ask what sort of driver to use?
I've read that the laser MUST be coupled to a constant current driver.

Any leads where I can find one?

mreza_asadii (author)rusty01012016-09-05

Thank you very much ,your details are great helps for me during next weeks.I almost finished electronics and waiting for laser head.So maybe I ask you some questions in future.

mdeudon (author)mreza_asadii2016-09-05

Yes it is earned bu experience ;-) You have to make tests

mdeudon (author)mreza_asadii2016-09-05

With 2W you can engrave quite everything except metal. It is specially suitable for wood (plywood or plainwood (oak, spruce etc ?... ). I also made test on leather, it is cool too :-)

Do you want to use a diode to obtain 10 W ? or a laser tube ?

mreza_asadii (author)mdeudon2016-09-05

As I found on it's a 10 W fiber diod module . I attached its photo to this post

mdeudon (author)mreza_asadii2016-09-06

I see. I don't know about these kind of lasers. I'm affraid I cannot help you, sorry.

DerekJ25 (author)2017-01-06

Struggling to identify this part if someone could help me please, its from Step 17, the electronics.

Thanks ever so much.

mdeudon (author)DerekJ252017-01-07

This part is DIY. You cannot buy it somewhere sorry.

I mention it in the intro :

-> The eagle files to make a MOSFET module to SWITCH ON-OFF the laser. I recommand OSH Park to print the board.

Errol1951 (author)2016-12-28

Looks great but I am using a 3d printer and one of the first things I am trying to fix is the problem of having 2 steppers to drive 1 axis there is always differences in the stepper drives so to fix this problem is to remove 1 of the steppers and it drives both shafts. With that in mind it would be easy to run a shaft across where your steppers are and have it drive both sides. Looking forward to seeing more from you about this

ernestoaug (author)2016-12-28

linda máquina. parabens ! ! ! ! ! ! !

I8mAll (author)2016-12-27

My wife had an idea when I was building my engraver that I was making from old scanners. Cut a space that matches your working area through the base and focus on the point below. The beauty is your target can be bigger than your working area e.g. the back of a jacket. Perhaps even tile the engravings to create a bigger picture. Yours looks much better than mine.

StuartB44 (author)2016-12-25

How do you get the 2 Y motors to work in opposite directions. Because
obviously one has to rotate clockwise and the other anti-clockwise. If
they both go the same way they would be trying to go in opposite

TimothyJ999 (author)StuartB442016-12-27

You reverse the wire pairs when you attach them to the stepper driver. If the 4 wire pairs are colored red-black and green-white you wire one as
RB GW and the other as
GW RB. That way they'll be in sync but run in opposite directions.

StuartB44 (author)TimothyJ9992016-12-27

Thanks very much TimothyJ999.

Thats handy to know.

StuartB44 (author)2016-12-26

To stop spike from the relay when switching on and off you should have a diode across the relays coil pins.

StuartB44 (author)2016-12-26

You can eliminate the sag by using fully supported linear rails.

clazman (author)2016-12-25

Quite nice!

Just wanted to mention what could be an issue with using such small diameter rods.With the small footprint of yours the issue will not be a show stopper.

The issue is rod deflection.

I used the much larger footprint of the one you referenced to calculate the "droop" of the rods due to their own weight and then the live load deflection.

Given a span of 40 inches the 3/8" rods will sag 0.038 inches at the center of the 40 inch span due to their own weight.

The sag will increase with the live load by 0.049 inches per lb of live load.

Since your spans are much less the sag will be less.

I could give the formulae for deflection but suffice it to say that the sag is a function of the cube of the span divided by diameter to the fourth.

Suffice it to say, just increasing the rod diameter from 3/8" (10mm) to 1/2" (12mm) would reduce the deflection by a factor of 3.

Mylomine (author)2016-12-25

Would this cut through dollar tree foam board? 1/8" plywood?

bc1235 (author)2016-11-04

Hi, Great instructable. Did you manufacture the idler pully support or did you purchase it? If Purchesed would you please supply the part number. Your's looks anodized so I'm thinking purchassed. Thank you, Bruce

mdeudon (author)2016-09-11

Added : an electronic schema for a better understanding

AndreasW79 (author)mdeudon2016-09-21

Thanks for the schema. But - would it be possible to replace the mosfet or is there some ready to use module available online? I tried to get a cheap pcb but it always will cost around 50 Euro here in germany... thats a little bit too much... Maybe 5 volt relay will be a replacement for on and off??

Thanks in advance!!


mdeudon made it! (author)AndreasW792016-09-22

1. I started to use this kind of red module I bought from internet. You can find it easily on ebay or aliexpress. It doesn't work, because the mosfet's gate is commanded with the +5V of the arduino. It is not enough to saturate the transistor. That is why I decided to make my own module, with a +12V the saturate the mosfet.

2. I just found a new kind of module on aliexpress :,searchweb201602_4_10065_10068_10069_418_10017_10060_10061_10062_10057_10056_10055_10037_10054_301_10033_10059_10032_10058_10073_10072_10070_10052_10053_10050_10051,searchweb201603_2&btsid=7d4d6a28-9a33-42e2-a242-62d1fbf474a3

It may be ok. For 3 euros, worth to test it ;-)

3. For the relay, yes it is a solution. But in this case, place it between the +12V and the constant current source. Because when the relay opens-closes, it makes some spikes that can damage the laser diode.

erniehatt (author)mdeudon2016-10-07

This module uses and IRF5305s mosfet, which as far as I can find is not a logic level.

The IRFZ20 is hard to find here, but have found the ST STP55NF06L, will this work with your circuit.

erniehatt (author)erniehatt2016-10-07

The link posted was incorrect.

Here are some specs.

Channel Type
Maximum Continuous Drain Current55 A
Maximum Drain Source Voltage
Maximum Drain Source Resistance
Minimum Gate Threshold Voltage
Maximum Gate Source Voltage
Package TypeTO-220
Mounting TypeThrough Hole
Pin Count
Channel ModeEnhancement
CategoryPower MOSFET
Maximum Power Dissipation
Dimensions10.4 x 4.6 x 9.15mm
Typical Turn-Off Delay Time40 ns
Typical Input Capacitance @ Vds1700 pF@ 25 V
Typical Gate Charge @ Vgs27 nC @ 4.5 V
Minimum Operating Temperature-55 °C
Maximum Operating Temperature+175 °C
Number of Elements per Chip
Typical Turn-On Delay Time20 ns
Transistor MaterialSi
bwantha (author)2016-09-15

brother your CNC machin is really good so I like make it but how are your CNC machine part buy from eBay site can you please contact from seler all the parts buy from ebay

mdeudon (author)2016-08-31

I connect the laser module after the MOSFET module. I will provide an electronic schema soon.

AndreasW79 (author)mdeudon2016-09-08

Hi mdeudon,

at first great work. I have some questions. First - will you publish the elektronic schema within this post? Second - why didnt you print the carriage holders instead of laser cut? And last one - is the constant current from your BOM the mosfet module??

Best regards

mdeudon (author)AndreasW792016-09-08

I will publish the electronic schema soon. Need some time to do that ...

The 3D printed is not something very accurate. That's why I used the laser.

The MOSFET module is not the constant current module. I made it myself.

mdeudon (author)mdeudon2016-09-11

I just published the electronic schema

Feel free to contact me if you need more informations

AndreasW79 (author)mdeudon2016-09-09

Thanks for your reply!

Im still not sure for what the constant current and mosfet are used?! Can´t i use this part as module between arduino and laser? (i will use an 1.8Watt laser)

Thank your for the support!!


mdeudon (author)2016-09-08

The laser :

COJARBI (author)2016-09-05

Nice build, if you want a awesome open source controller software try

leninweblb2010 (author)2016-09-04

Hi, great job.

Can you help us with the model of the laser?

A link would be great too.

Best Regards

acidenitr0s (author)2016-09-04

Bonjour, Merci pour ce cherche à faire moi même un laser cutter - graveur.
1- combien faut il d'élément pour les fichiers "stl" ? on a besoin d'un articles de chaque ?.
2- quelle est le coût total de votre laser ?
3- quelle est la puissance de votre alimentation ?
4- quelle software utilisé vous pour le contrôler ?
merci pour votre aide , cordialement

Hello, Thank you for this looking to make myself a laser cutter - burner.
1- how it must item for files "STL"? it needs a items of each eye.
2- what is the total cost of your laser?
3- What is the power of your diet?
4- what software you use to control?
thank you for your help, cordially

ajerez3 (author)2016-09-03

How much do you think you spent on this project. I'd love to make my own too.

mkinoma (author)2016-09-02

This is a very nice build. I know it's a lot of work making these instructables, even when English is your first language. So thank you for getting through it. I am excited to see more information as you add it. I already have some of these parts so I will try to get your parts printed and cut....

erniehatt (author)2016-09-02

do you have a drawing with dimensions for the laser cut pieces you made.

GeorgH3 (author)2016-09-01

Thank you for your instructable.

I've built a laser engraver using GRBL that is very similar to yours.

It cuts paper and engraves nicely into wood etc.

I can manually write G-code to draw lines and circles and I can run some Gcode I've yound on the web.

However I haven't an easy way to generate Gcode from drawings and characters that will run on GRBL based engravers.

I've tried inkscape with the gcodetools plugin but I could not get working Gcode out of it,

Can you point me to where I can learn how to do that ?

RobotEyes (author)GeorgH32016-09-02

You can try my software:
The Alpha and Beta version are free, and very easy to use.
If you try it, send me an email with your opinion at:
Tks, Carlo

wetsmellydog (author)GeorgH32016-09-01

You can check this page from the Shapeoko Wiki

For making photos with a laser, you cannot beat the software from PicEngrave at Their gcode sender cannot be beat for reliability and function. I am not associtated but a very happy user of their software.

Pauld262 (author)GeorgH32016-09-01

Hi GeorgH3,

A good plugin for Inkscape is

It's pretty solid and works well.

erniehatt (author)2016-09-02

What filament did you use for the prints.

RobotEyes (author)2016-09-02

Some time ago I built a Laser Engraver with GearBest Kit.

Unfortunately I have not found a software acceptable and easy to use, so I wrote my own.

My software allows to load a picture and send it to the laser engraver quickly and easily.

My software is written in a generic way for almost all machines with standard GCode firmawre.

At the moment the software is WORK IN PROGRESS currently, in ALPHA testing.

As I needed to modulate the laser power (I have a 5500 mW one) I used GRBL firmware version 0.9 (other versions are ON / OFF, 0.9 is PWM)

Here the Robot Laser Project page :

I will update soon the page (for now very rough).

Please send an email at if you download the software, thanks.

RobertoA96 (author)2016-09-01

Otro instructable en el que te hace falta una cortadora laser para construir otra. La factura no aclara nada, ni pone modelos de lo que ha utilizado ni precios... un ejemplo, en la factura pone GT2-6mm belt---1... ¿1 que? ¿1 metro? ¿1 kilo?... en fin, otra perdida de tiempo.

DarioC4 (author)RobertoA962016-09-02

En realidad, solo se utiliza la cortadora laser para la caja del arduino etc. Lo puedes realizar tranquilamente en mdf u otro material y la rejilla de ventilacion puede ser resuelta de otra manera.
En cuanto a la correa (belt), se calcula en centimetros o pulgadas, y depende de la distancia que debe cubrir, lo cual otra vez esta dado por la dimension de la construccion y el diametro de las poleas. Lamentablemente depende de la zona, existe quienes miden de centro a centro y quienes miden circunferencia completa. Por las dudas te conviene medir la circunferencia compelta con un hilo y luego proceder a comprar exactamente esta dimension, ya que los tensores no tienen un rango muy amplio.
Espero te sea util.

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