Introduction: 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:

Take 2 rods and 4 rail shaft supports

Step 2:

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

Step 3:

Assemble the 4 bearings & the 2 remaining shaft holders

Step 4:

Prepare the laser cut plates (carriage holders)

Step 5:

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

Step 6:

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

Step 7:

  • 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:

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

  • 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

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

Step 11:

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

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

  • 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

  • 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:

Step 16: Cable Through

Install the cable through

Step 17: 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

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

Step 19: 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

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

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

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

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

Step 25: 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

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 ;-)