Laser Cutter Senior Project



Introduction: Laser Cutter Senior Project

It has been a long time since I put something on here, but once college started, life got crazy and im sure you all can relate. on the topic of college, I am required to complete a senior project (even though were just juniors) that has to include

  • a PLC (programmable logic controller, typically Allen Bradley in our program)
  • HMI (human machine interface)
  • some form of motion
  • good wiring practices

I know instructables isn't exactly geared for this but I wanted a place online to document my progress, updating as I go along.

if you couldn't tell, I have chosen to build a laser cutter, or at least rebuild an existing one (because parts are less expensive that way). those of you who have worked with these sorts of things might think i'm crazy and your probably right, but i'm planning to: first and foremost find a utility cart to put this thing on, add pneumatic's (air assisted nozzle, and a pick and place style auto feed feature), switch out the control board (i'm hoping i can get mach3 working with this but i'm still open to suggestions at this point, my instructor has said she would like me to use an industrial motion controller but they are really pricey and i'm not sure i could get it working with CAD) use a PLC to: monitor water cooling temperature and kill power if it gets too hot, control the pneumatic's, safety functions, and a number of other things IF i have time to add them.

the cutter just came today 11/9/2017

ill be back tomorow with more details


big update, sorry been buisy

(yes that's TKOR's foam fighter jet, i was able to laser cut it)

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Normal Operation Set Up.

found a cart, i know it looks too small, but any bigger and it would not have fit where it is. I was looking over the laser and a few immediate changes are needed to get it running,

  • air ventilation, just a cheap fan in a small channel cut an eraser in half to seal it better
  • temperature meter, runs on button cells with no off button! will require its own power to be reliable, i plan on replacing the entire thing though
  • doesn't come with a reservoir, i just used a cheap plastic storage bin
  • align the mirrors, the chingrlish manual shows you how and is quite funny to read

Step 2: It Works!

kind of...

the software kinda sparse and glitchy, the controller keeps disconnecting during operation (REALLY annoying) but it does work, kinda fun air ventelation is a big issue though, first upgrade: vent hood I also orded a 4 inch inline fan to replace the one it comes with, but more on that later.

if anyone has questions about getting one of these working im not an expert but ill do what i can to help

Step 3: Time to Make a Mess

thats all nice and good but I have a lot of re-desighning and replaceing to do on this thing

Step 4: Ribbon Cable

the first thing i did was replace the ribbon cable, I attempted to use the optical endstops that came stock but not knowing what voltage they were (Chinese component datasheets were useless) i'm afraid i fried them. I 3d printed a couple of brackets and stuck limit switches on them, they work just as well. the X axis motor cable was easy, just made a small JST extension.

Step 5: Stepper Drivers

im using TB6560 stepper drivers and for some quick tests I taped them to the side wall (I know, bad idea im still picking little pieces off) it was during these tests I discovered that my Mach3 card was incapable of running a laser, the m3 command is too slow for accuracy and when I tried this (brilliant video btw) my card died, it seems that the z axis couldn't supply the current required to fire so it blew something and now it wont connect to my computer, again Chinese datasheets are not gonna tell you these things

Step 6: Other Modifications

I ordered a new controller and while waiting for it to arive, I replaced the fan (image coming soon) got a more professional reservoir looking storage container and started designing the auto feed grabber parts and adjustable Z bed

Step 7: Arduino

after further study I decided on an arduino with a ramps shield, this instructable gives an amazing outline on how to make that work and while communication with a PLC might be a bit more difficult now but I have seen it done before. I'm still using the tb6560 stepper drivers, as long as i have them I might as well and that way I don't have to modify the ramps board to go over 12 V.

Step 8: I/O Mapping


  • endstops 1, 2
  • thermo-couple (analog)
  • e-stop
  • machine on off
  • capacitive cell
  • light switch
  • laser loop


  • stepper motor drivers x, y
  • stepper motors x, y
  • laser fire
  • laser pwm
  • solenoids 1, 2
  • pump
  • fan
  • light

stuff to get

  • din rail
  • 24v 5a power supply
  • water hose
  • capacitive cell
  • wire
  • touch screen or mount
  • filter
  • electrical box

Step 9: Wiring Diagrams

Step 10: Auto Feed

the fair is next week! I had to choose 1 cool feature to add and I picked this.

Step 11: List of Parts

Be the First to Share


    • Sculpting Challenge

      Sculpting Challenge
    • 3D Printed Contest

      3D Printed Contest
    • Motor Vehicle Contest

      Motor Vehicle Contest