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"). 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 from The LittleBox Company | http://thelittlebox.co/theshop

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what is the point of making this if you need a proper laser cutter?

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.

In fact, several
- forming it to your needs and not to the ones another has tried to figure out

- avoid costs if you don't have the money

- 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

-the pleasure of making. Like hand rolling cigarettes if you could buy them.

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.
Best greetings.

(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).

The point of making laser cutter from laser cut plywood part is the absence of laser cutter? I spot a logic hole there.

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.
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.
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.

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).
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.

Norway19739 hours ago

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.... :-)


it's very perfect & nice

SilverJimny (author)  shra7yesterday

thanks :)

Would this handle etching the copper off a circuit board?

SilverJimny (author)  efrem.hugyesterday


But, it will etch UV photo-resist costings.

Details on another of my other instructables at http://www.instructables.com/id/The-MicroSlice-V2-Aurum-A-gold-mini-laser-cutter-e/step15/Making-PCBs/


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 anthonyarmban@gmail.com


You can buy factory assembled MircoSlice here | http://thelittlebox.co/theshop/index.php?route=product/product&path=60&product_id=114

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?

yes the wavelength of the laser used, determines the material than can be etched or cut. you would not be able to etch or cut glass, or any other material transparent with a blue laser. since they are not opaque to the blue, green, or red spectrum.

the specific color is another issue, since it is not necessarily the color but the opacity in the material used in to make the color. the more black the material used, to the specific wavelength the more effective it will be.

and if a lens is used, the wavelength will determine the lens material used for a sharper focus. such as gallium arsenide, being used for invisible infrared wavelengths. where most visible light, can use silicon dioxide lenses.


wdimick2 days ago

great build! Does anyone know if this is capable of engraving text on to anodized aluminum parts?

SilverJimny (author)  wdimick2 days ago

I did some testing with anodised aluminium and got mixed results. It works, but only really good enough on darker colours. If you want to send in some test material I'm happy to try it out for you.

it is a matter, of the opacity to the wavelength used. not all visible black to the human eye, is necessarily black to a specific wavelength. example silicon dioxide, is opaque to 1200nm, but translucent or transparent to other higher frequencies of light.

if you run into transparency problems, you might try scorching rather than etching. by placing an opaque substance to the specific wavelength, on the anodized surface. thus burning the substance, into the porous anodized surface.

well the problem with anodized aluminum, is that the wavelength here is wrong. in which you would need, 1200nm infrared laser to be most effective. which would target, the opaque oxide bonding only. there is danger using any invisible, infrared etching laser. so much caution is needed, using invisible laser beams. and care must be taken not to use, high power lasers on reflective surfaces.

but aluminum metal itself, would be transparent to 1200 nm. the further you deviate from 1200nm, the more inconsistent would be the results on anodized aluminum. but to etch metallic aluminum, you would need a higher frequency in the blue spectrum laser.

and remember the shielding requirements change, according to wavelength.

mad scientist.jpg
1EmptyHead2 days ago

Great work. Nice to see someone do skilled work...

Azzurro2 days ago

so.. you need a laser cutter to make a laser cutter. :D

the code and the idea are very useful anyway, i might make one with a non-lasercut frame.

FineWine2 days ago

Is it just me? I think any man who knows how to create things like this, actually does it and then tells everyone else how to... is very attractive! ;-)

You give me hope that I'll find my soulmate one day. :)

That is very good

kevshouse2 days ago

Nice machine.

May I suggest as this machine has such a small footprint that you enclose the entire thing in a laser proof cover. Also your warning label should be yellow so that it stands out effectively, a good guide to laser hazard classification can be found here http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/healthsafetywel... (though you should look for relevant standards in your own country too).

SilverJimny (author)  kevshouse2 days ago

There is a display case available for the MicroSlice V2 which does exactly that | http://thelittlebox.co/theshop/index.php?route=product/product&path=60&product_id=124

FineWine2 days ago

Wow, That's Amazing!!! Now I'd like to know how to build an air conditioner at home cuz its so hot today! Lol!

chintans1 month ago

Hey SilverJimmy

Would you like to improve this with your other project?

phamandp3 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!

Purpelpaeaz4 months ago

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

SilverJimny (author)  Purpelpaeaz4 months ago

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


george174 months ago

what is the total cost?

SilverJimny (author)  george174 months ago


Kits available!

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

bdannau5 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??

PeterJ76 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)  PeterJ76 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!

MihaelD7 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.

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