Picture of The MicroSlice V1 | A tiny Arduino laser cutter

A few years ago I saw an Instructable where Groover had used a pair of DVD-RW drives to make a pocket laser engraver. Inspired by the idea, driven by the recent purchase of a full-sized 50 watt CO2 laser cutter, and roused by the launch of the Microcontroller contest I took the decision to have a crack at making my own mini laser engraver.

I have called the project the MicroSlice.

What are the features of the MicroSlice?

  • The MicroSlice has a work area of 50mm x 50mm (2" x 2").
  • It can cut paper and engrave wood & plastic.
  • Open Hardware.
  • Uses the Arduino UNO R3.
  • All the software used by the MicroSlice, including the graphics program, is Open Source, and free to use!
  • There is a 300mw 635nm Red Laser Diode, like you'd find inside a DVD-RW drive, which does the cutting & engraving.
  • It comes as a kit to build at home, at a Hackspace, or with your local Maker group.
  • There are 97 Laser-Cut parts in the kit!
  • It will work with your Raspberry Pi.

The MicroSlice won the Grand Prize in the 2013 RadioShack Microcontroller Contest!

Massive thanks to everyone who voted, and of course to Radioshack for the super prizes :)

The MicroSlice V2.0 is now available from The LittleBox Company |

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chintans27 days ago

Hey SilverJimmy

Would you like to improve this with your other project?

phamandp2 months ago

I have a question? When I set up: $0=200, $1=200 or more, step motor was jerky. I use JAPAN SERVO KH39EM2 and ball screw with picth 2mm. Thanks!

Purpelpaeaz3 months ago

What is the blue pcb with the segment display on the first picture of step 1?

SilverJimny (author)  Purpelpaeaz3 months ago

It is a DC DC converter which I didn't use and was replaced with the Flytron 5v regulators.

george173 months ago

what is the total cost?

SilverJimny (author)  george173 months ago

Kits available!

The cost was about £300 if you include all the testing and checking.

bdannau4 months ago

Is it me or is

6 | Locate the following code

7 | Replace the code with

replacing one bit of text by the same bit of text??

PeterJ75 months ago


If I got the wood/plastics kit from LittleBox and used a "class 1M 1500mW 5V laser" from a few dvd roms and a dvd RW, is there enough power in one of those to do the job?
What would you say were the pros/cons of those diodes, or are they all pretty much the same at that level?

SilverJimny (author)  PeterJ75 months ago


Without being able to test the diode I can't really say what the quality will be. To be honest you'll be better off using a blue ray diode rather than a red one as the red doesn't work anywhere near as well as the blue.

Thanks for the reply!
I dont have access to spare or broken blue ray drives at the moment but plenty of DVDs.

Im at work with nothing to do so I just ripped one of the drives apart, as you do, and have the diode (three more to go), I just need to find out exactly what it is before I do anything with it.

nM being the most important for safety glasses.


Found it!
Last page!

MihaelD6 months ago


i am new here so If these questions are not belong here, please tell me. my question is:

$4=200 This sets the default speed the cutting head moves at while working.

When I change to biger number motor speed remains. I would like to change the speed of motor.

$5=200 This sets the default speed the cutting head moves at while moving between jobs.

In this line when I change the number the speed of motor are change. this work.

all compliments to the site and to the pople who published there work.

SilverJimny (author)  MihaelD6 months ago


which firmware version are you using? You may need to alter the acceleration which I think is $8. Set it to something like $8=100 and see if that helps.



I just burn arduino so when I get new one l tray.

REA8 months ago

Is there any way to add a Z axis to this so one could use a marker or drag knife, or is it pretty much just for lasers only?

SilverJimny (author)  REA8 months ago
There is always a way. I would look at using a solenoid connected to the laser on/off control to press a pen down onto the material. I'm not sure you could get enough force down for a knife though.
wenoptics8 months ago

Why can neodymium magnets do anything to keep paper secure while engraving?Do you mean while engraving a paper? And sorry about my English...

SilverJimny (author)  wenoptics8 months ago

used with something magnetic they can clamp the paper down. They will not of course attract the paper.

Thanks really for your reply, Jimny.Gotcha! And it's really a great work! ;p
jiajunwang1 year ago

Hello, inspired by your project and thanks to your help, I build mine. I am using a 100MW blue laser.

2014-03-23 17.53.02.jpg2014-03-23 17.52.23.jpg2014-03-23 01.24.40.jpg2014-03-23 01.24.46.jpg2014-03-10 23.00.12.jpg

Great build! I would love to see a couple more pictures of your rig... side and back, maybe bottom?

Sorry mate, I disassembled it already. If you are building one, I strongly recommend you utilizing the DVD drive to the maximum, i.e. using the linear bearing on the drive. I built mine from scratch, and the accuracy suffers sometimes.

OK, Thanks for the reply! :)

Lighter colour materials are more difficult to work on than darker materials. As having a broader spectrum tends to reflect more energy back rather than letting it get in and do the trick. Just my experience...
SilverJimny (author)  jiajunwang1 year ago

wow that's great!

jiajunwang1 year ago

Hi, does the color of the laser influence the performance/efficiency? or the power output is the only thing that matters?

SilverJimny (author)  jiajunwang1 year ago

Yes, you'll get more power in a blue ray diode than you will from an equivilent red diode.

As a follow up question, does the color of the laser make a difference in what materials and/or color of material that can be cut?


cnludwig9 months ago


Could this cut shapes out of adhesive backed paper? I would like to use something like this to make stencils for spray painting and etching. It would not need to be super accurate, but I don't want to have to use a knife or scissors to cut the shapes. Thanks, great instructable.

SilverJimny (author)  cnludwig9 months ago

I would expect so. It cuts paper without issue. There is a new blue laser for the MicroSlice which gives very good cut-lines too.

megadarkwood10 months ago

Is it possible that you can use a stronger laser, and cut wood?

SilverJimny (author)  megadarkwood10 months ago

it is possible to add a higher rated diode. It will cut some types of wood but it will depend on thickness, and the laser diode you are using.

yakeen4u11 months ago

wiring diagrams plzzz

yakeen4u11 months ago


IBH11 months ago

Can i use

instead of the Easy drivers??

SilverJimny (author)  IBH11 months ago


IBH SilverJimny11 months ago
Sir how can use it can give me a schemetic or something like that?Actually I am new to Electronics!!! Sorry to trouble you.
SilverJimny (author)  IBH11 months ago


I don't have a schematic for those stepper motor drivers. You will have to figure it out yourself.

You could always get some EasyDrivers from


hey do you know how to make it move faster i am using a pen for now but would like it to move faster cant tell witch command it is

SilverJimny (author)  oldsmarracin1 year ago

Increase the feed speed, and when you create the g-code increase the mm speed in Inkscape.

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