Low Cost Reliable & Powerfull Laser Engraver

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Introduction: Low Cost Reliable & Powerfull Laser Engraver

I've seen many Laser Engraver models on Instructables. I wanted to build my own style, inspired by what I've seen.

Especially this one :

https://www.instructables.com/id/3W-4x4-Arduino-Las...

After many time and efforts, I've came to something pleasant to use and reliable.

The maximum POWER is 3W. But usually I stay to 2W to save my LASER DIODE, and to be honest the difference between 2 & 3 Watts is not really obvious.

http://www.ebay.fr/itm/Nichia-NDB7875-445nm-9mm-Laser-Diode-In-a-Copper-Module-With-Leads-Glass-Lens-/180948107479?hash=item2a215900d7:g:JEoAAOSwv0tVQRkc

What else ? This instructable will give you an overview of what is possible to do with few material and money.

I suppose you already know GRBL and how to use Inkscape etc ... to produce GCODE files.

I won't give also many details on the electronic. This post is not exhaustive and I will probably add more information in the future because I admit it is not precise enough to build my machine easily.

I added here :

- All the STL files ready to print

- GRBL with my configuration

- the laser engraving plugin I use with Inkscape

- The very important Bill of material. You can find almost everything on Aliexpress. I bought the laser module from DTR's Laser Shop in USA.

- The eagle files to make a MOSFET module to SWITCH ON-OFF the laser. I recommand OSH Park to print the board.

Step 1:

Take 2 rods and 4 rail shaft supports

Step 2:

  • Assemble 2 rail shaft supports with 2 rods
  • Take then 4 bearing

Step 3:

Assemble the 4 bearings & the 2 remaining shaft holders

Step 4:

Prepare the laser cut plates (carriage holders)

Step 5:

  • Assemble the plates
  • Use M4-16mm length screws

Step 6:

  • Prepare 4 new shaft supports and M5-20mm screws with nuts
  • Assemble the shaft supports

Step 7:

  • Assemble the X rods and check that the Y movement is smooth and easy
  • Next, prepare the 2 X bearings, 8 M4-16mm screws, the 3D printed X carriage
  • Disassemble the X rods, and assemble again with the bearings and the carriage. Sorry guy I missed the photo for this step :-(

Step 8:

Now it is time to screw the structure on the wooden plate ... not easy, be sure all the movements are not stressed and are still easy.

This photo is a little bit in advance, don't take care of the motors now.

Step 9: Assemble Motors + Supports

  • Assemble the 2 Y motors with their 3D printed support
  • Use M3 10mm screws
  • Screw them taking care to be well aligned

Step 10: Y Tensioners

Assemble the Y tensioners (use 5mm screws and nut) and screw them on the plate

Step 11:

Prepare the Y Belt Holders and M3-25mm screws

It is time to cut and install the Y belts, not an easy job, be patient

Step 12: Install the X Motor

Somebody smart should have done that before

In our case :

  • unscrew a little bit the carriage to move it up and give space to install the motor
  • install the motor under the carriage
  • screw it with M3

Step 13: Prepare X Tensioner

  • Tap the 3D part with an M4 screw, the plastic is tender enough to do that
  • Then slide the idler pulley to the M4 and fix the tensioner to he machine

Photos are missing, again sorry ...

Step 14: X Belt Holder

  • Prepare the parts for X Belt Holder
  • Tap the holes as shown in the picture with M3 screws
  • Tap also the 2 remaining holes (see next STEP)
  • Install the part

Step 15:

Step 16: Cable Through

Install the cable through

Step 17: Electronics

Prepare :

  • 3 motor drivers
  • CNC shield
  • 11 jumpers (normally provided with the CNC shield)
  • arduino board

Then :

  • Install the jumpers as shown in picture 2. This will setup the motors to 16th micro-steps, and clone Y with A.
  • Plug the drivers, and assemble with the arduino.

Step 18: Electronics, Stepper Driver Heatsinks

You need heatsinks, if not, the chips will overheat and your motors will miss steps.

Step 19: Electronics : Solder Connectors to the Motors Wires

You can buy and assemble DUPONT connectors yourself to plug the motors on the CNC shield. It takes long and it is not easy to do.

I prefer to buy ready-to-use female-female straps, cut them in two parts and solder ...

Step 20: Electronics : First Test

Now it is time to make a first test :

  • Plug the motors on the CNC shield
  • Install the power supply
  • Load GRBL on Arduino and make the machine move

It works ? Good, you're ready for the next steps

Step 21: Mount the Laser Holder

Prepare :

- 3D printed laser holder

- 4 M3 screws + nuts

- Heatsink

- LaserModule

-> The Heatsink do not need to touch the 3D printed part because it becomes hot

Step 22: Mount the Fan Holder

Prepare :

- 3D printed Fan Holder

- 4 M4 Screws

- Fan

Do :

- Drill 4 holes in the Fan Holder

- Tap them with one of the screws

- Fix then the Fan

Step 23: The Final Machine

I made a laser cut box using the online software MakerCase.

I know this post lacks of details. Don't hesitate to contact me if you want more information.

Step 24: Samples

Step 25: Fan Holder Modified

I have modified the FAN HOLDER for a better cooling. I post here the STL file. Just print it and screw on the machine instead of the hold version.

Step 26: Upgrade

I made a new part for a stronger Y-Axis. My purpose was to ameliorate the accuracy of this axis.

Yes, I noticed that the X-axis is more precise. I still do not know why.

Indeed it didn't really work. But I noticed then with this new part that I do not need anymore 2 motors to drive the Y-axis. One is enough and it works good. So I have unplug the left motor.

I did then measurement tests again and yes !! Now Y-axis has the same accuracy than X :-)

So I recommend this upgrade ;-)

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86 Discussions

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LiefSu

1 year ago

hi code ?

great job,thank you for sharing.
A question,what can be engrave with a 2W laser beam?honestly I'm making a CNC machine that I want to use for engraving too,I want to know a 10 Watt laser that I ordered for it(not received yet) how powerful it is.

9 replies

The question of what can be engraved with a given laser comes up fairly frequently. The problem is that the answer is dependent on more than just the power of a given laser. All that tells you is how much power the laser draws, and emits at it's focus point. Other factors include how reflective the target is in the frequencies of the laser. If you use a 2 watt red laser on black acrylic, you are going to get better results than if you attempt to use a 10 watt laser on a piece of aluminum foil. Besides the reflectivity, you also run into the question of heat transfer. a 2watt laser is likely to burn through wood because the wood will not transfer the heat absorbed from the laser faster than the material will suffer heat expansion related damage, where a 10 watt laser might have issues even etching polished metal.

Another factor is going to be how well collimated the laser is. Not how well focused it is, but over how deep of a space that focus extends. This laser is at a fixed height, and from experience with this type of a laser, I'd be surprised if it was well collimated. As a result it seems unlikely to me that it can cut more than about 1/4" or 8mm material, and more likely not much more than 1/8" or 4mm.

If you're thinking of going into cutting armor plate, you're probably not going to get the results you would like out of a 10 Watt laser. If you are looking to do custom engraving of grayscale images onto people's plastic iPhone cases, then you'll probably need far less than the 2-3 watts this instructable builds.

Have fun, get an assortment of materials to test, and try different power levels. And as always be safe. Your retina is not designed to move the heat generated by absorbing the light emitted by a 10 Watt, or even a 30 milliWatt laser fast enough from the absorption site to prevent damage.

Thank you for nice details,how about time-delaying for beam while burning or engraving?i mean how fast X-Y motors should be actuated and move laser head over work space?is it earned by experience and depending on all these factors?

Yes, to some degree. With some target material, you end up reaching a point of diminishing returns where taking more time doesn't give you any significant advantage, and of course costs you in time.

If you build a machine that matches the spcs someone else has built, you can share experience between the two of you, but you will probably find some differences even there. The differences between what you get with a different laser, or a different laser driver can also mean that one person's results won't match another's.

Disclaimer, I've been working on building my own, and this looks like a great starting point. (I have a lot of the parts, just rather busy with other projects.

Since there is a mention of laser drivers in this thread, I'd like to ask what sort of driver to use?
I've read that the laser MUST be coupled to a constant current driver.

Any leads where I can find one?

Thank you very much ,your details are great helps for me during next weeks.I almost finished electronics and waiting for laser head.So maybe I ask you some questions in future.

Yes it is earned bu experience ;-) You have to make tests

With 2W you can engrave quite everything except metal. It is specially suitable for wood (plywood or plainwood (oak, spruce etc ?... ). I also made test on leather, it is cool too :-)

Do you want to use a diode to obtain 10 W ? or a laser tube ?

As I found on alibaba.com it's a 10 W fiber diod module . I attached its photo to this post

photo_2016-09-05_22-51-34.jpg

I see. I don't know about these kind of lasers. I'm affraid I cannot help you, sorry.

Struggling to identify this part if someone could help me please, its from Step 17, the electronics.

Thanks ever so much.

Screenshot_2.png
1 reply

This part is DIY. You cannot buy it somewhere sorry.

I mention it in the intro :

-> The eagle files to make a MOSFET module to SWITCH ON-OFF the laser. I recommand OSH Park to print the board.

Looks great but I am using a 3d printer and one of the first things I am trying to fix is the problem of having 2 steppers to drive 1 axis there is always differences in the stepper drives so to fix this problem is to remove 1 of the steppers and it drives both shafts. With that in mind it would be easy to run a shaft across where your steppers are and have it drive both sides. Looking forward to seeing more from you about this

linda máquina. parabens ! ! ! ! ! ! !

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I8mAll

1 year ago

My wife had an idea when I was building my engraver that I was making from old scanners. Cut a space that matches your working area through the base and focus on the point below. The beauty is your target can be bigger than your working area e.g. the back of a jacket. Perhaps even tile the engravings to create a bigger picture. Yours looks much better than mine.

How do you get the 2 Y motors to work in opposite directions. Because
obviously one has to rotate clockwise and the other anti-clockwise. If
they both go the same way they would be trying to go in opposite
directions.

2 replies

You reverse the wire pairs when you attach them to the stepper driver. If the 4 wire pairs are colored red-black and green-white you wire one as
RB GW and the other as
GW RB. That way they'll be in sync but run in opposite directions.

To stop spike from the relay when switching on and off you should have a diode across the relays coil pins.