Hacking Old IdeaWerk 3D Printer Into Laser Engraver

Introduction: Hacking Old IdeaWerk 3D Printer Into Laser Engraver

So, this is a long awaited project that I was supposed to do but couldn’t find time due to several reasons but mainly procrastination. Finally, I got the opportunity to complete this project in LOB Hackathon event with an amazing team partner Hira Binte Asim.

Supplies:

1. Old IdeaWerk 3D Printer

2. 500mW Laser Module

3. Some screws and nuts

4. Tools that helped in hacking such as soldering iron and screw drivers

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Step 1: Laser Testing

First step before we start is to check our laser module. We connected a 12V 1A charger with the module and tested the laser. It has an adjustable focus which we can alter according to the distance of material from laser.

It is important to adjust the focus accurately otherwise the laser will not engrave on the material underneath. (Focus adjustment varies from material to material and can be changed manually)

Step 2: Testing 3 Axes of 3D Printer

We are using an old 3D Printer (IdeaWerk) that no longer prints 3D models. It's extruder got damaged and we never got it repaired as it was an old model anyways and doesn't allow many modifications. So we decided to hack into it and make a laser printer instead. After ensuring the working condition of the 3 axes and achieving correct calibration, we moved on to the next step.

(We disabled the Z-axis stepper motor so the bed doesn't move up and down disturbing our distance and focus adjustment)

Step 3: Fixing Laser Module

Now to fix the laser module on the printer, we decided to use some L-brackets to connect the laser in the existing empty extruder slot of the printer. We powered the laser through an external power source however you can connect it in place of the fan port of 3D printer as well.

(Here it is important to note any changes that might result due to an offset while printing designs because of the L-bracket or any component that you may use to attach the laser - as it might not fix exactly in place of the extruder. In that case, you can adjust the offset by altering measurements for X and Y while creating your design in the editing software)

Step 4: Start Engraving

For selecting the software to create our designs, we checked if our printer worked with “Pronterface” but we weren't successful in connecting our printer through Pronterface, so we had to use "Doraware" (it has many limitations and you can't play around the G-code once it is generated. But since our printer had a damaged SD card slot we had to upload the design directly to the printer which could only be achieved through Doraware for IdeaWerk)

We used InkScape software to detect the edges of the picture to engrave and saved the file in SVG format. Since Doraware only accepts STL files, we used TinkerCad online to convert SVG file to STL and opened it in Doraware (You can use any other tool for conversion as well). Don’t forget to set zero degree temperature for extruder and bed. Also uncheck the Raft option and click on Generate G-Code.

Enjoy Engraving !

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