I have always asserted that the assembly kits for 3D printers, laser engravers/cutters and mill machines nothing have to envy to more expansive devices - based on the same principles and technologies - sold assembled and probably with a more curated design but not so easy to control and manage.
I also argue that a good assembly of these kits is a key factor for their reliability when ready for working. This is the reason that I started writing this tutorial guide.
I have used the GearBest laser engraver/cutter after its assembly doing many tests on different kind of materials (including 3D printed PLA parts) with very good results. The images of this tutorial refers to the 2500 mA laser but the same instructions can be applied to all the models of the same series as all are based on the same architecture mounting different power laser heads.
Thanks to GearBest, just a nice surprise for the users. With this coupon code IJCDDA you can get 20% discount from your laser engraver purchase! Hope this makes you happy.
Step 1: Parts and Tools
The kit (first image) includes all the components that you need to start assembly, including the allen keys. To makes things easy I suggest to add to the included tools also a plier before starting the assembly job.
The box content
In the kit box you find three stepper motors, the cables to connect the motors to the controller and a USB cable to connect the Arduino Nano to the computer, the controller board including the Arduino and the profiled Aluminium components to build the main structure.
Together with the bare components it is appreciable a small gift bag including protective glasses, a series of small test materials and a couple of high intensity LED lights that can be used with an external USB power connector.
Ready to start assembling? Go ahead!
Step 2: Assemble the Main Frame
The main frame (the base of the engraver) is very easy to assemble but you should remember to insert the M4 nuts inside the profiled Aluminium longer sides.
To complete this step you will use: the two longest Aluminium profiled parts (the long side of the main frame), 8 M4 nuts, the acrylic front and rear side of the main frame.
Insert four M4 nuts in every side rail of the two longer supports (the side face to the internal of the frame structure): two on the top side rail and one on the top rail. These nuts will be used in next steps to add the side supports to the main frame and to lock the teeth belt for the Y-axis.
You will use a total of eight M4 nuts.
If you forget this simple step you are obliged to disassemble the frame later.
The first image shows what you should get at the end of this step. To assemble the main frame you will use the longer profiled Aluminium parts and the front and rear acrylic components (shown in third image)
The next images shows how the nuts appear after the assembly and how to lock the Aluminium supports to the acrylic parts.
The Aluminium profiled support (longer sides) should be positioned vertically and locked to the acrylic sides with two M4 Allen screws on every side.
Done? Move ahead to the next step
Step 3: Add the Supports to the Main Frame
The short Aluminium profiled supports are aligned to the top of the longer side supports and are in direct contact with the front and rear acrylic sides, contributing to give robustness and stability to the frame. As we see further in this way the main frame has a border available to place a flat base on which we will position out pieces to cut or engrave.
To complete this step you will use: two short square Aluminium profiled pieces, four corner locking blocks, eight M4 10mm Allen screws and other four M4 nuts.
- Insert two M4 nuts in a rail in both supports (first image)
- Position the corner locking blocks near the end side of every rail and insert an M4 Allen screw in every block. Do not fix the block with the screw!
- Position the frame nuts (assembled in the previous step) in correspondence of every corner locking block hole
- Insert another M4 Allen screw in every block.
At this point it is important to position correctly the short Aluminium supports creating a flat frame: this is the border where we can place our working plate for engraving.
Align the supports exactly to the same level of the other two in the frame and push them in contact with the internal side of the front and rear end of the acrylic parts. Then lock firmly every screw to make the Aluminium rectangular frame solid.
The main frame now is complete, we can proceed. Go ahead!
Step 4: Assembling the Y-axis Stepper Motors
In this step we will assemble the two stepper motors that control the Y-axis.
To complete this step you will use: two stepper motors, two acrylic Y-axis supports, two teeth pulley and eight M3 allen screws.
Read before starting
- While assembling with more screws (the stepper motors body) don't lock firmly the first screw, then the second etc. but first insert all the (four) screw for about half length then proceed to close them firmly following a "X"
- Don't lock the teeth pulleys in this phase, just insert them in place and close just one screw to be sure that remain on the stepper motor shaft. You should adjust them later
- Inserting the pulley on the stepper motor shaft note that there is a facet on the shaft. Rotate the pulley so one of the two locking screws press to this flat surface. This avoid the pulley to rotate free and you lock it better
- The side motors support are identical but should be assembled mirrored; take in account of this
- When assembling the stepper motors to the acrylic supports check to keep the cable connector oriented to the bottom: it is the shorter side of the plastic piece
Well, keeping in mind the mentioned precautions screw the two stepper motors to the acrylic side supports mirrored as shown in the images. Then put the pulleys in place and double check that all is correct.
Done? Get ready for the next step!
Step 5: Assembling the Y-axis Bottom Bearings
This is the first step where we start mounting moving parts together.
To complete this step you will use: the two Y-axes motor group , four M3 Allen screws and nuts, four washers, four plastic separators, four bearings.
This operation is almost easy: the only thing you should take in account is the right order of the parts you should fit in the Allen screw before locking to the opposite side of the acrylic motor support holes.
The first image shows the mounted bearings with the block oriented in the right position.
The second image shows the parts that are used to assemble a bearing
The third image shows a bearing assembled correctly.
It's question of minutes, then go next!
Step 6: Assembling the Y Motor Groups to the Main Frame
This is the first step where we start mounting pre-assembled parts together.
In this step you will use: the pre-assembled main frame, the pre-assembled two Y-axis motor block, other four set of components to mount four bearings.
There is an almost easy way to assemble these parts; prepare the four bearings ready to be inserted as shown in the first image.
Take in one hand one of the motor groups and position it with the bottom bearings (already mounted) in correspondence to the bottom rail of the longer side of the main frame as shown in the second image.
Insert the bearing and support with the Allen screw in the top rail of the as shown in the third image; add to the opposite side of the hole the washer and just insert the nut turning it a couple of times. If you lock it becomes very difficult to insert the second upper bearing.
When both the upper bearings are positioned firmly lock the nuts: the motor group should be stable and move smoothly along the longer side of the main frame rails.
Repeat the same operation for the other motor group.
One important step is done. Ready for the next step?
Step 7: Adding the Y-axis Teeth Belts
The stepper motor moves the Y axis using a teeth belt that we will assemble in this step. Following the right sequence the operation is easy granting good performances.
To complete this step you will use: The teeth belt, fours M3 allen screws and nuts, four M4 10 mm Allen screws, four acrylic belt lock parts.
The belt will be fixed to the motor in two phases: first on side then the opposite side correctly tensioning the belt.
Phase 1: fixing the belt to one side
Prepare the four acrylic belt locks as shown in the first two images: insert the M3 (smaller) Allen screw in the smaller hole and the nut in the other side. Close it with hands without blocking.
Slide one of the two M4 nuts that you have inserted in the frame in the step Assemble the main frame to one of the extreme sides of the rail.
Insert one of the sides of the teeth belt without cutting it exactly as shown in the third and fourth image.
It is important that you leave a couple of centimetres of the belt outside (see the images). This will be very useful in future if you need to adjust the belt tension or to replace the belt.
After closing firmly the M4 Allen screw do the same with the other screw to fix the side of the belt. At the end of this operation you will see that it is impossible to remove the belt.
Phase 2: fixing the belt to the opposite side and tensioning
Now that the teeth belt is firmly fixed to the first side, insert it in the rail and dispose on the motor teeth pulley as shown in the fifth image. Don't care to tension the belt now.
Apply the same method explained above to fixe the belt to the other side. Don't cut yet the belt now!
Before locking the M3 screw (when the belt is not completely fixed) you can now tension the belt. Use the sixth image as a guide to see the result you should obtain. If correctly tensioned the belt should remain flexible (+/- 5mm) to avoid usage damage.
The last operation you should do, is to adjust the motor pulley
Extract the pulley from the shaft until you see that the belt is almost in the middle. Then lock both the two screws of the pulley. Apply the same operations to the other side motor
Now test again that the belts are correctly tensioned: every motor group should slide smoothly along the main frame rail without opposing too resistance.
And now another step: assembling the X axis!
Step 8: Adding the X-axis Support
The Y.axis moves along the longer side of the frame using two stepper motors synchronised. Now we should assemble the top Aluminium profiled support that holds the X-axis and laser head group and keep the two sides Y-axis motors perfectly aligned.
To complete this step you will use: Four M4 Allen screws, the (last) Aluminium profiled support for the X-axis, two M4 nuts.
Insert two M4 nuts in the bottom side rail of the support: these nuts will be used for the belt lockers.
Align the two Y-axis motor groups and insert the four M4 Allen screws through the acrylic holes in the support.
Insert all the four screws by hand then complete the operation with the Allen key and lock them firmly. The three images illustrates the correct position of the Aluminium profiled support.
Done this simple step? Great! We can proceed with something more complex.
Step 9: Assembling the X-axis Stepper Motor
The assembly instructions for the X-axis stepper motor is the same as explained in Step 4: Assembling the Y-axis stepper motor.
To complete this step you will use: one stepper motors, the motor side acrylic X-axis support, one teeth pulley and four M3 allen screws.
The X-axis group has two different acrylic components: the front support that will host the laser head and the rear support where we should assemble the stepper motor.
As shown in the image the stepper motor connector should be oriented to the top side of the support. This will make easy the wiring of the motor cable.
Already done? Not so easy, but it 's only the first part. Go ahead!
Step 10: Assembling the X-axis Motor and Laser Head Group
This is an almost delicate part but fortunately it is not particularly complex: you have already learned most of the assembly methods you should apply to this part.
To complete this step you will use: the partially assembled machine, the partially assembled C-axis group, four M3 Allen screws and nuts, eight bearing separators, four bearings, the second acrylic X-axis support and the remaining part of the teeth belt.
Read before starting
Note that the X-axis motor and laser head group should be mounted with the motor oriented to the back side and the laser head oriented to the front side.
Mount the two top bearings
Insert the two top bearings in the motor group using one plastic separator per side. Refer to the suggestions explained in the Steps 5 and 6 for the bearing assembly and close them firmly. See the first image for the correct insertion; the second image shows how to put the assembled group in place.
Mount the two bottom bearings
For this second operation you can't pre-assemble the bearings. For every bearing insert the Allen screw in the first side hole of the acrylic support. Then add the three components of the bearing keeping them in place continuing to insert the screw. When both the bottom bearings are correctly positioned you can close the two Allen screws with the washer and the nuts.
Mount the teeth belt
Now the entire structure is assembled and it is almost robust that you can orient it to the most comfortable position to assemble the teeth belt. Follow the instructions described in the Step 7
Ready? Hurry hoop, next step is waiting!
Step 11: Installing the Laser Head
The laser head should be inserted to the opposite site of the motor and does not need to be screwed to the support: it simply inserts in the holes.
To complete this step you will use: the laser head and the almost finished laser cutter.
To insert the laser head in the X-axis group the three screws shown in the first image should be regulated to insert and keep firmly in place the head inside the three holes in the front side of the support as shown in the second image.
Before inserting the heat you should regulate by hand the three screws as shown in the third image, using any other acrylic border to align the screws depth.
After inserting the laser head insert the wire in the square hole on top of the X-axis group.
Almost finished, few more steps are waiting!
Step 12: Install the Controller Board
The controller board installation is the last component that should be added to the machine.
To complete this start you will use: eight M3 Allen screws, four separators, four hexagonal supports, the controller board, the control buttons and the acrylic protective cover of the controller board.
Insert in the four holes of the back acrylic support four M3 Allen screws and four separators on the other side.
Keeping the four screws in position insert the controller board as shown in the second image.
Then lock the back screws with the four hexagonal supports as shown in the third image.
Prepare the two buttons covers and the acrylic controller board protection (see the fourth image) and position in front of the controller board.
Insert by hand the remaining four screws to keep in position the protective plate, then rotate slowly the buttons protection until they fit inside the button switches on the controller board.
Close firmly the four screws to complete the board installation.
We're almost finised !
Step 13: Connect the Cables to the Board
The last operation before powering on the laser engraver is wiring the cables.
To complete this step and finish the assembly of the machine you will use: two motor cables, USB cable, the power supply.
The first two images shows how to position the cables connectors. From left to right respectively:
- The laser connector should be inserted in the second leftmost connector
- Seeing the controller board side of the laser cutter, insert the left motor connector to the left connector
- Insert the right motor connector to the rightmost connector
Step 14: Power, Connect and Test
You have completed the laser cutter assembled. Now you can test and enjoy with your new tool.
Note: As there are many software applications that can fit the requirements to control the Arduino Nano based laser cutter from GearBest, we will explore in a dedicated instructable the possibilities offered by the open source software to get the best results from this machine.