How To: Laser Engraver!

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About: i am an inventor/mad scientist who likes to mess about with electronics

We've all seen videos or instructables showing off laser cut objects and projects, and i'm also sure that those of us who are makers have wondered how much one of those machine would cost. Sadly any sort of powerful cutter would be way out of my budget, but as I was only looking for a machine that can cut thin materials like paper, card and thin leather, I stumbled upon this engraver, it is a kit bought from Gearbest in china.

you can buy the laser here:Gearbest - laser engraver

IMPORTANT: This is not sponsored, Gearbest sent me an item to review, they did not pay me additionally and i only express my own views, this instructable is not to promote the machine, it is to let people use it as there are no other instructions.

update: both the benbox and the GRBL controllers seem to have broken download links, there are two alternate programs that i can suggest: lite fire laser: this is a different piece of software that i find that works with this machine, but make sure that you have a machine running windows 7 or higher. that can be found here: (i will find this link soon) Another alternative that is harder to use but works is the universal gcode sender, watch tinkernuts video on how to use it. it can be found here: LINK - gcode sender

Step 1: Gather Your Materials:

in the kit you should get:

(1.) 5 aluminium extrusions (2 small, 3 large)

(2.) 3 nema17 stepper motors

(3.) a box of screws, timing belt, pulleys and washers

(4.) various 4mm acrylic panels

(5.) 3 stepper control cables

(6.) a Grbl controller board

(7.) safety goggles

(8.) a laser!

(9.) a usb cable

(10.) some aluminium connectors

Step 2: Frame Assembly:

we will start the assembly by building the bottom rails that x carriage will roll upon:

materials:

(1.) aluminium bracket (picture 7)

(2.) medium bolts (labeled in picture 3)

(3.) 2 small aluminium extrusion (labeled in picture 6)

(4.) 2 large aluminium extrusions (labeled in picture 6)

(5.) nuts (labeled in picture 3)

assembly:

(1.) push a nut into the groove on one of the grooves of the smaller bar, keep it about 1cm in.

(2.) put a bolt into one of the holes in the brackets.

(3.) screw the bracket onto the bolt in the recessed channel (picture 1)

(4.) repeat steps 1-3 for the other end and on both ends of the other small aluminium rod.

(5.) do step 1 on both ends of the larger extrusions and bolt the smaller extrusions onto them.

Step 3: Building the X Carriage

now that we have built the main frame we need to build the carriage that will run on it:

materials:

(1.) acrylic plates (picture 1)

(2.) long screws (picture 2)

(3.) 8 bearings

(4.) nuts ( labeled in picture 2)

(5.) 8 nylon washers (picture 3)

(6.) 2 nema17 stepper motors (picture 1)

assembly:

(1.) push 4 of the long bolts into one of the acrylic plates (picture 5)

(2.) slide on one nylon washer onto each of the bolts (picture 6)

(3.) push one bearing onto each bolt and add a nut to hold it in place (picture 7)

(4.) bolt on a stepper motor using 4 small bolts

Step 4: Building the Laser Assembly

now we are going to build the laser assembly, this gets attaches to the two carriages we built in the last step:

materials:

(1.) 8 nylon washers (picture 2)

(2.) long bolts (picture 3)

(3.) 4 washers (labeled in picture 4)

(4.) 4 nuts (labeled in picture 2)

(5.) laser module (labeled in picture 7)

(6.) the two acrylic laser gantry plates

assembly:

(1.) grab the long screws and push them into the 4 holes in the acrylic plate (picture 5)

(2.) insert a nylon spacer onto each of these rods (picture 5)

(3.) push a washer over the spacer (picture 6)

(4.) finally, add a spacer on each and push on the second acrylic plate along with some nuts (picture 4)

(5.) screw in 3 of the smaller bolts into the back of the laser and slide it on through the provided holes

Step 5: Bolting It All Together!

we have all of the main parts built, now all we have to do is combine them:

materials:

(1.) laser assembly (step 3)

(2.) 2 gantries (step 2)

(3.) some medium bolts (labeled in picture 3)

(4.) frame (step 1)

(5.) the remaining aluminium extrusion

assembly:

(1.) slide the two gantries onto the frame (picture 1)

(2.) slide the laser assembly onto the remaining aluminium extrusion (picture 2) (ignore the belt for now)

(3.) bolt the laser slide onto both of the gantries (picture 4)

Step 6: Belts and Pulleys

now for the hardest bit: putting on and tightening the timing belts:

materials:

(1.) 6 acrylic belt fasteners ( picture 3+4)

(2.) 6 small bolts (labeled in picture 4)

(3.) 6 small nuts (labeled in picture 4)

(4.) timing belt

assembly:

(1.) put the small bolt and nut through the small holes on all of the acrylic fasteners

(2.) slide a nut into the recess on the ends of all of the large aluminium extrusions.

(3.) push the timing belt up through one of the fasteners and using a medium bolt fasten it to the nut inside the recess. (picture 6)

(4.) push the belt under the washers on the laser assembly and feed it up and over the gear. (picture 6)

(5.) repeat step 3 on the other end, making sure that the belt is tight over the gear, then trim off the excess belt.

(6.) do this for both the y gantries.

Step 7: Finishing Up:

to finish the physical build of the laser we just need to add the end stops and the control board:

materials:

(1.) control board (picture 5)

(2.) acrylic end plates (picture 2)

(3.) medium bolts (labeled in picture 6)

(4.) acrylic face plate for the control board (picture 7)

(5.) small bolts and nuts for fastening the control board

(6.) stepper motor cables

assembly:

(1.) screw the end plates onto the ends of the frame (picture 9)

(2.) bolt the control board onto the end plate (picture 3)

(3.) bolt on the faceplate to the standoffs on the control board

(4.) wire the steppers to the control board, plug the two gantry motors into the two sockets labeled y and plug the laser assembly motor into the socket marked x

(5.) plug the wire from the laser into the socket marked laser

(6.) be pleased with yourself that you built it! (picture 1)

Step 8: Software and Lasering:

all of the physical construction is done now, the final step is to configure and download the software;

the software can be found here: Benbox 3.0

update: benbox software seems to be unavailable try this, it is the open source GRBL software: http://zapmaker.org/projects/grbl-controller-3-0/

(1.) plug the laser in

(2.) go into the blue menu in the software and press connect (labeled in picture 1)

(3.) find an image you want to laser, open it (labeled in picture 1)

(4.) press play

(5.) let the lasering commence!

note: you may need to adjust the speed, power and cut type to optimise you engravings (these can be found in the blue menu)

picture 2: a stamp i engraved for stamping stuff. :)

picture 3: an ending for my video on this (sadly i never put this in)

picture 4: one of my tests of the outline feature in the benbox software


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    120 Discussions

    0
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    oldhess

    1 day ago

    Thank you!! Mine came with no instructions. Now I can finally try to get this going.

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    Billgabo

    3 months ago

    Your Laser CNC can cut canvas (the fabric of backpacks) or leather?

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    ErFillion

    5 months ago

    Anyone know's what type of screws the laser module needs to be mounted?

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    toyfanter

    Question 6 months ago on Step 8

    Hi,

    After assembling the laser and installing Benbox, it seems that many aspects seem to be working--the computer can speak to the arduino, the motors work, etc. However, there seems to be some problems with the control panel. These include:

    1) The "x" motor not moving when connected to the x port, instead heating up, but moves when connected to the y port.

    2) All motors only being able to move in one direction.

    We have tried flipping the inputs around, but nothing seems to be working. Can you please assist us?

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    guyK19

    1 year ago

    Hello.i wonder if i can get some help here.i havr 5.5w laser.i try to can 1 mm carton and its not working for me after many repeats.the laser can ingrave but not cut.engrave in very low speed.try fucosing.try near or far from the carton.yry few speeds and the same result.no cutting.hope to get some advice.best regards.

    1 reply
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    guyK19guyK19

    Reply 1 year ago

    My setup.win 7 64 bit.board diy8000.grbl j.arduino nano.ttl board.

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    radioman02

    1 year ago

    I am sorry to bother you with such trivial questions, I thought that this site had folks willing to help less knowledgable folks like me, again sorry for the bother

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    radioman02

    1 year ago

    looking for the templates for the plexi glass parts for this laser engraver.

    Thanks

    3 replies
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    MakerBoxradioman02

    Reply 1 year ago

    Its cheaper to buy the kit than to source parts and drivers individually, the designs are not available online.

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    radioman02MakerBox

    Reply 1 year ago

    I really need assistance in securing the GRLB programming and download also how to flash the Arduino.

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    MakerBoxradioman02

    Reply 1 year ago

    There are many tutorials, please, just Google it, I do not have the time to explain the entire process, not can I with the current information you have given me

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    radioman02

    1 year ago

    I have the same 500mw laser you are using on this build. How do I hook it up so I can regulate the power. I have the Arduino and stepper board to match.

    Thanks

    1 reply
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    MakerBoxradioman02

    Reply 1 year ago

    There are many YouTube videos on the subject, try looking it up

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    radioman02

    1 year ago

    anyone know where I can purchase the two plastic containers with all the hardware for assembly?

    Thanks

    2 replies
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    MakerBoxradioman02

    Reply 1 year ago

    The whole thing comes as a kit... so no need to buy or laser templates.

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    radioman02MakerBox

    Reply 1 year ago

    I just need the parts so I can build MY laser.

    Thanks

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    NazreenH

    1 year ago

    Do you know if this can cut paper/cardboard?
    Or perhaps foam? 2mm craft foam... 10mm EVA?

    Thanks in advance!

    2 replies
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    MakerBoxNazreenH

    Reply 1 year ago

    depends on how powerful the laser is, i have the 300mw version, mine can cut paper and cardboard, but somrthing more powerful would easily cut all those and more.

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    NazreenHMakerBox

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks for the speedy response :)
    Much appreciated!

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    philipmeisner

    1 year ago

    Thank you for your latest answer. The scaling might be a problem in the screenshot uploaded. But I have also tried other sizes. I've also tried only 'printing' letters from the text function. I cant figure see any more parameters to adjust as I have been through every possible combination of factors. So I might have to return the machine and make use of the satisfaction guarantee. But many thanks for your kind advice and help.