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"). The V2 is now 100mm x 100mm (4" x 4").
  • 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 :)

Check out my current project live now on Kickstarter!


The MicroSlice V2.6 is now available here | https://www.instructables.com/id/The-MicroSlice-V2-Aurum-A-gold-mini-laser-cutter-e/

Step 1: To Begin

The basis for Groover's axis was the two mini stepper motors from the DVD-RW drives. The motors drive the DVD head mechanism which either moved the laser cutting head, or the cutting table. My first starting point was to find a similar set of motors, and a reclaimed laser diode.

However I wanted a slightly different design. Where Groover has the cutting table move on the Y Axis, I wanted a fixed cutting table. To do this I took my inspiration from a gantry crane.

As the cutting table would be fixed, the cutting head must move along the Y Axis instead, but it must also accommodate the X Axis. So the whole cutting head, and the X Axis, must move along the Y Axis. Like a gantry crane moves up and down the dockside.

So I need two stepper motors with threaded shafts. The longer the shaft the larger the potential work-area for the cutting head. I'd also need a pair or runners for the Y Axis gantry to move along.

To cut a long story short I couldn't find what I wanted from the DVD-RW drives I found. The stepper motors had no threaded bolts which could move along the threaded shafts and the laser diodes were firmly pressed into their housings that I was unable to remove them from the DVD-RW without causing damage. So in the end I turned to old faithful eBay to find the parts.

1 x Arduino UNO R3
1 x X Axis Motor
1 x Y Axis Motor
1 x Dual Relay
2 x Easydriver
2 x 5v LDO
1 x 3.3V LDO
2 x Heat-Sinks
1 x 45x45x10 Fan (12v)
4 x Stop Switches
9 x Magnets
4 x Rubber Feet
5 x Thumb Screws
1 x Laser DiodeAlternative
1 x Laser Module
1 x Laser Driver
1 x Laser Lens
1 x 4mm Aluminium Tube
2 x 3mm x 150mm Steel Rod
1 x 3mm x 100mm Steel Rod
17 x M3 Microbarbs
6 x M2 Countersunk (6mm)
6 x M2 Nuts
6 x M2 Pan-head (6mm)
8 x M2 Pan-head (8mm)
4 x M3 Nylon Screws (6mm)
4 x M3 50mm Standoffs
7 x M3 Cap-Head Screw (8mm)
8 x M3 3mm Nylon Spacers
97 x Laser-cut parts!

The Microslice parts have been arranged to be laser cut out of two 3mm x 400mm x 300mm sheets of plywood or acrylic. The MicroSlice plans are attached as a zip file below.

The MicroSlice uses a 300mw 635nm Laser Diode. It will hurt you if you are not careful. Please take care when handling the laser. Do not look at the beam, do not point it at yourself or anyone else. Do not be an idiot.

I make it please help me
okay,,i have a ps3 sled (kem-410aca) it is the same to use steps 53.33?
hi,im building this same components,,it is normal that stepper motor get too hot @ 12v1A supply?
<p>it depends, you would have to look at the data sheets for that stepper motor, they are designed to run at one voltage only, and as long as the power supply has enough amps as its output the motor should work, devices take whatever amps they need and leave the rest that they don't need</p>
<p>hey. help me please.dont know how to connect the electronics. please help soon</p>
<p>Hey are you using any extra parts other than in the list.</p>
<p>Nice build! I made a laser cutter using a Raspberry Pi and EasyDriver motor controllers, but mine is larger, so it can cut nearly a full sheet of paper. It can even engrave chocolate! Check it out on my YouTube channel: <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9RkAdefXYU" rel="nofollow">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9RkAdefXYU</a></p>
<p>Hi I am newbie and I am trying to cut XPS foam using hot wire. It is coming out with rough edges as good as my steady hands. Rasberri Pi with two drives seams to be a good one for my need. DO you have instructions posted some where?</p>
Welcome to the great world of building things! While I don't have an Instructable on building my laser cutter, I have an extensive collection of website posts documenting my build. They are very detailed and should be helpful. Here is the link: http://sciencewithscreens.blogspot.com/search/label/laser%20cutter<br><br>Good luck!
<p>hey everyone. I've had a Microslice V1 kit I have had lying around for ages. The gantry system is mostly built and I've got all the components needed to finish it, I just don't possess the time or patience to finish it off! It's on eBay if anyone is interested , just look for item number 252300821428. I bought everything I could from the littlebox website, mainly the gantry and some of the electronics so I hope you don't think I'm trying to capitalise on their hard work! I'm hoping someone can finish it off and make use out of it rather than gather dust in my garage!</p>
<p>You are too gud my friend</p>
<p>can Arduino Mega 2560 used instead of Arduino UNO?</p>
<p>will this work on Arduino Mega? just to know, I have one around so...</p>
<p>Hi iolivare </p><p>this was my same question will this work on arduino mega 2560 ? Did you get answer for that question? plz do mail me to kumarvp113@gmail. Com</p>
<p>Hi guys. did anyone made this project with large size, can anyone help me regarding this. thanks</p>
<p>Is it enough of DVD-RW diode to cut wood?</p>
<p>It will cut very very thin balsa wood.</p>
<p>Have you made laser cutter that are good enough to cut 4mm plywood? This is what I am looking for, but as far as I see there are no such thing for under 200eur.</p>
<p>so.. you need a laser cutter to make a laser cutter. :D </p><p>the code and the idea are very useful anyway, i might make one with a non-lasercut frame.</p>
<p>It comes as a kit to build at home, at a Hackspace, or with your local Maker group. <br><li> There are 97 Laser-Cut parts in the kit! </p>
ohh i see. thanks. i try to avoid kits anyway it just.... kills the craft spirit :)
<p>you are a true maker my friend</p>
<p>why, really it's l'art pour l'art for me. :)</p>
<p>Nice Work</p>
<p>This laser cutter is awesome..</p><p>Can u please send me the complete circuit diagram..!</p><p>My email is&quot;maheshjshetty@gmail.com&quot;</p>
<p>cool. Can I 3d print the parts that have to be laser cut?</p>
<p>what is the point of making this if you need a proper laser cutter?</p>
<p>This is from the above page. It should solve any problem with not currently having a laser to cut the parts out.</p><p><strong><em>It comes as a kit to build at home</em></strong>, at a Hackspace, or with your local Maker group. <br><li> <strong><em>There are 97 Laser-Cut parts in the kit!</em></strong> </p>
<p>you could easily incoperate this to be part of a pcb etching system it would create very good one sided PCBs</p>
<p>Kantos, the point of making this is the same as making itself, and the same why you look into instructables.com instead of going to a shop. <br><br>In fact, several <br>- forming it to your needs and not to the ones another has tried to figure out</p><p>- avoid costs if you don't have the money</p><p>- being able to have it if you aren't in a place where the item is present or affordable (the world is bigger than US and EU, I am in a place in Peru where you can't get a laser cutter easy and cheap). I am always impressed how much users of internet seem to ignore than internet is not geographically bounded, and/or that the world is bigger than their hometown with their very specific conditions </p><p>-the pleasure of making. Like hand rolling cigarettes if you could buy them.<br><br>So, you inquiry results in what the point of this webpage ... if you missed that, are you just passing by or did I misunderstand your question? In first case: welcome! in second case: sorry. <br> Best greetings.</p>
Well done, and to the point, and you were not mean or belittling to anyone...<br>We see a number of people that criticize a person's design but offer nothing but criticized remarks.
<p>nice words.</p>
<blockquote>(the world is bigger than US and EU, I am in a place in Peru where you can't get a laser cutter easy and cheap).</blockquote><p>The point of making laser cutter from laser cut plywood part is the absence of laser cutter? I spot a logic hole there.</p>
<p>Oh, I see what you meant. So your original question to the author was like you need a laser cutter to make the parts for a laser cutter? That logic figure is called petitio principii, but in this case, well, I guess his point is using a laser cutter for making others. <br>If your logic hole tries to refer to my answer, it does not really fit. At one side, you can still borrow, rent, or what ever a third party laser cutter to do the parts, and then have your own. Buying one is not the same price, you know. <br>And if you don't have access to one (as I guess you refer to by quoting) - I think, again, that the point of this page is to find ideas for own solutions. Do it yourself, think it yourself, but with the help of ideas of other. That fore we read it. If we would be incapable to find (nor willing to search) own adaptions, I guess most of us wouldn't really be here. So, doing exactly the same thing with exactly the same material and exactly the same form ... wouldn't be interesting for many. Heard of good old hand sawing? Variating material? I neither can get the parts by eBay, also there I would look for an alternative. Best greetings from another part of the globe.</p>
<p>And kantos: when mentioning users which ignore the world being more than US and EU, I really wasn't thinking of you nor projecting in you a idea of limitation to own conditions. That certainly would be a logic hole, because I have to assume you can be anywhere on the globe (well, anywhere we can limitate our imagination to own conditions, but that's not my point). <br>It was a comment due to something I find on many forums, and is important for me to remind that part of this open source culture is spreading knowledge really everywhere, because I think the real gap is education. Sorry if you felt I was addressing you with a prejudice. </p>
You certainly don't &quot;need&quot; a laser cutter to build this. Simply print the plans 1:1 scale on paper, glue them to 3mm plywood, and then cut them out using a scroll saw, coping saw, or jeweler's saw. Sure, it will take some time. But how do you think the first lathes, mills, and drill presses were made?
<p>The comment space is dedicated for those who want to be constructive by either asking questions that help make sense or by bringing ideas related to a project so that project becomes more advanced. </p>
<p>In pulling apart a dozen or so printers and faxes, I find that the toroidal ferrite cores are used extensively in this type of equipment. There are toroidal cores used on the secondary of the power supply, but especially on the cables to any of the motors, either continuous drive or steppers. Presumably, these toroidal cores are used to dampen any higher harmonics in these cables, thereby ensuring there is minimum e/m interference generated. </p><p>Maybe people using steppers in their designs might give some attention to possible interference produced by their equipment.</p>
<p>Hi, I found a source for nice stepper motors in old Minidisk players. Fortunately the motor is easy to get to and the sled is very repeatable.</p><p>Another source might be the drives out of Sony PSP units as these are still available as a spare part :-)</p>
<p>This is a very clean looking little machine! Also, congratulations on getting funding for 'the big box'!</p>
<p>Thanks :)</p>
<p>Great project. I`m seriously considering making one and allready guttet a DVD drive for one X/Y axis motor, BUT - what do you use to connect those flat cables running into the motors to the rest of the project? It sucks to solder those and the contacts on the DVD drive cards are suface mounted, so they`re no fun soldering off.... :-)</p>
<p>it's very perfect &amp; nice </p>
<p>thanks :)</p>
<p>Would this handle etching the copper off a circuit board?</p>
<p>Nope.</p><p>But, it will etch UV photo-resist costings.</p><p>Details on another of my other instructables at https://www.instructables.com/id/The-MicroSlice-V2-Aurum-A-gold-mini-laser-cutter-e/step15/Making-PCBs/</p>
<p>Hi guys, I just joined in, I need to buy a ready made unit, if any of have sucessfully build one and wanting to sell, please email me a quote <a href="mailto:anthonyarmban@gmail.com" rel="nofollow">anthonyarmban@gmail.com</a> </p>
<p>Hi,</p><p>You can buy factory assembled MircoSlice here | http://thelittlebox.co/theshop/index.php?route=product/product&amp;path=60&amp;product_id=114</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: A passionate make of things. Chief engineer for the BigBox 3D printer and inventor of the MicroSlice Mini Laser Engraver & Cutter. I spend my time ... More »
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