Convert Any 3D Printer to Laser Engraver

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What is up guys, In this instructable I am gonna show you how to conver any 3d printer into a powerful 2.5 w laser engraver capable of cutting wood and engraving into almost every material(except metals).

Step 1: Laser and Equipment

So, We are gonna start this project by firstly choosing the right laser module for our needs.

Starting with 500mw laser you will be only able to engrave some shapes into wood, plastic or leather and you can get that one really cheap for 35 €.

Furthermore, With higher power output lasers you are able to engrave deeper, quicker and also cut some plywood , and that is the reason why I chose a 2.5W laser which is just strong enough to cut 4mm plywood with multiple passes.

Here is the list of a few different lasers and a 5v regulator:

► 500mW Laser: https://goo.gl/Upg5GQ
►1.6W Laser : https://goo.gl/Sbs6h9

►1W Laser: https://goo.gl/P55uD9

►2W Laser: https://goo.gl/P55uD9

►2.5W Laser: https://goo.gl/P55uD9

►5.5W Laser: https://goo.gl/P55uD9

►10W Laser: https://goo.gl/P55uD9

► 5V regulator: https://goo.gl/TVSTJW

And when handling with laser dont forget to put on some safety glasses!!

Step 2: Preparing Printer for Laser

SO, I firstly detach a fan and extruder and remove the mainholder so I can drill 2 holes for the screws that are gonna secure a laser to the printer.

Secondly, we are gonna need 12v to 5v voltage regulator which is necesarray to control the power output of the laser.

3d printer fan port provides 12v at full power but Laser ttl modul only accepts a voltage up to 5v, so that is why we need a voltage step down regulator.

So, after soldering that together, I connect laserd diode, fan, ttl port and main power input to the smal motherboard that you receive with the laser.

For the main power source I am gonna use this regulated dc power supply but you can use any 12V power adaptor capable of providin at least 2 amps.

Step 3: Installing Laser

Autohome all axes and try to turn on the fan somewhere from 1-255.

As you can see the laser is turned off at 0 and outputing the maximum power at 255.

Now I would suggest you place a piece of paper on the bed and reduce the power to a minimum so we can better see if our point is in focus or not. You can simply adjust that with a small knob on the laser itself.

After you manage to do that, lets hop to the computer and download the needed software for engraving.

Step 4: Full Image/infill Engraving

Firstly, download an inkscape software and two plugins for laser engraving.

► Inkscape: https://inkscape.org/en/
► Full infill plugin: https://github.com/305engineering/Inkscape

► Outline/cutting plugin: https://jtechphotonics.com/?page_id=2012

After installing the inkscape, extract both plugins and copy the content to the written location.

Now, simply open the inkscape and firstly define the workspace of your printer.

After that import your favorite logo and vectorise it by clicking trace bitmat command.

Also, dont forget to resize the image to the final dimensions and place it in the left bottom corner.

So now, the first plugin we are gonna use is the one that are going to fully engrave the whole image on our material. Set the speed around 1000 and click apply.

The g-code will be generated in the txt file so open it and replace txt ending with .gcode and that is it.

As you can see that method is pretty slow but it can engrave some really nice logos and also greyscale images but I will cover that up in the next tutorial

Step 5: Outline Engraving/cutting

So the second methond is almost the same, you need to set the right engraving speed and how many passes you want which is very practical if you want to cut some plywood.

I managed to cut balsa wood with only few passes but that is not the most amaizing part.

2.5 w laser is also capable of cutting some 4mm plywood but it takes a bit more time and much more passes but all in all, it is very practical equipment for all tech and diy enthusiasts.

And yea if you are into electronics you would also be able to create your own circuits and many other things...

If you have any questions about the build, I would love to answer them and help you with problems that occored during the build process.

Thank you for reading this instructable, I also made a video tutorial on youtube, so you are welcome to check it out.

Jake

Step 6: Watch a Video

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    40 Discussions

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    Greg_K169

    Question 12 days ago on Step 6

    Great instruction!

    I followed it thoroughly and was able to install everything.

    But now I have a problem: The laser does not turn off at all! When I connect the 12V power to it it stays on. It is not a problem of commands since I can control the laser intensity with the fan regulation and also with commands. I also checked the voltage of the regulator, it is 5V exactly.

    Do you have any idea what could be the problem? Is my laser defect?

    Thanks for your answer!

    1 more answer
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    xxxImmortalGreg_K169

    Answer 8 days ago

    Hi, i have the same problem. If i attach the power to the laser it stays on. If i hold a paper underneath and go up and down it burns the paper at the focus point. If i twist the cables from the small controller board it turns on but on 255 it goes off. I also have 5V if im turn the fan to full speed. So what went wrong??

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    DaleB81

    3 months ago on Step 5

    Do you have a pattern for the acrylic laser holder you could share?

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    EmilianoG12

    Question 5 months ago on Step 2

    so how do you connect that 5V regulator?

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    RobinG111

    9 months ago

    I was looking for the good laser head to cut, engrave gray scale, and sla print. I finally find the good one tkanh's to you.

    Now I'm going to transform my 3D printer into a laser engaver/ FDM 3D printer/ SLA 3D printer all in once.

    Thank's a lot for your many tutos.

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    MohamedAtef

    Question 9 months ago

    Hello , Good Morning

    Nice Idea :)

    i Have 2 Question i Hope u Answer them :)

    1- what kind of Board u are Recommend to do with this 3d print :)

    Ramps Or Which Board will Be good for this Project :)

    2 - i Have CNC Laser Machine i Made And Using Ardunio UNO and CNC Shield But i face Problem I Had Laser 2.5w with TTL/PWM its not working well with cnc shield So My friend Offer me to Make N2222 And Connect it with laser and CNC Shield and its work well But i Measure V when im cutting im only geting 2V And He can cut plastic 2M with about 8 Passe Cut Rate 250 !! That is GOod Or bad for laser 2.5w !

    My Last Question !! :)

    Which Laser u recommend to buy to make Good 3d Print + Laser to Cut Plastic , wood ,acrylic .. ect about Like 6M - 8M

    Which One 5.5 W Or 10W ?! and which buyer u recommend because i hear No laser over 5.5w !!

    Thanks For Your Time :)

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    MikeL358

    Question 9 months ago on Introduction

    I am not able to get the full print to work. I get the cut method to work well but the full print just does some strange outline.

    15190810712171942116410.jpg
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    Kdemon

    1 year ago

    I'm in the process of attaching a 405nm laser at 500mw to my Prusa i3 MK2. Any reasons I shouldn't power the 12v laser using the heating element off the board? I could just wire it to the 12V 20A power supply?

    Hi, That is great choice! Unfortunately, metals can not be cut by these type of lasers but you can cut almost every possible organic material(wood, plastic, cardboard..)

    Jake

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    reddxx

    1 year ago

    Great idea! Waiting the parts and your gray scale tutorial! Thanks for your instructable!

    1 reply
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    Jakes workshopreddxx

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks you! Grayscale tutorial is out so dont forget to check it out :)

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    Jakes workshopDandeman321

    Reply 1 year ago

    Not yet, but If you plan to engrave more times per week that is a must :)

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    Razanur

    1 year ago

    Hey,
    Thanks for this tutorial. I've been thinking of upgrading my 3D printer for quite a while now. One of the things I would love to be able to do would be to cut plexiglass. Have you tried it? What would it take to cut transparent plexiglass?

    4 replies
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    RazanurRazanur

    Reply 1 year ago

    Oh and I was wondering if you considered using a voltage divider instead of a linear regulator (BTW what you are using is a linear voltage regulator, not a step-down. A step-down would actually not work for this purpose!).

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    RazanurRazanur

    Reply 1 year ago

    And one more question :D
    I've read quite a few comments on similar lasers (and UV lasers in general), that the spots are line-shaped and hard to get a small focus point. Have you noticed/had any problems with that?

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    Jakes workshopRazanur

    Reply 1 year ago

    Yes, that is a good question! Actually the laser itself is a rectangle point instead of circle but you can focus it to such small point you could not see the ractangle shape anymore just a small dot.

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    Jakes workshopRazanur

    Reply 1 year ago

    hi, I haven't tried to cut plexi but I think you would need to buy stronger laser for that