DIY Laser Engraver
The DIY Laser Engraver is a simple tutorial, that shows you how to build your own fully operational Laser engraver. It's an Arduino Uno based model, that can learn you many things about electronics and mechanical engineering. Through the Laser you can engrave wood and some plastics.
Be careful and use eye-protection, it is dangerous to use lasers.
Step 1: Parts
Step one is a simple part list with the main components of this project.
It gives you a quick overlook at the various parts and their costs
1) Aluminium extrusion rail
2)Arduino Uno shield
Stepper drivers are integrated
3) Aluminium rail
5) Limit switch
6) Electronic box
can be 3D printed as well
7) Stepper motors
Nema 17 stepper motor
basic Plywood 300*350*6mm
KKmoon 1500mW Laser
10) Sheet metal
Aluminium 2mm 200*200mm
Step 2: Cutting parts
The second step to build you Laser Engraver ist to bring the parts into the right lenght.
For some parts i used a milling machine to get a clean surface area.
If you don't have acces to a milling machine you can cut the parts with an angle grinder and file it to the right size.
For the Plywood a normal saw is good enough because it is not cruicail for the accuracy
First bring the Plywood to 350*300 mm
Then you can drill the right holes using a ruler (wouldn't advise that) or a milling machine. A "pro" tip to get accurate parts if you don't have acces to expensive equipment is to print the part on a sheet 1:1. Then you can glue it to the part and start drilling on the right spots. I personally just use it for wood and parts that need no special accuracy.
2) Aluminium Extrusion
For the body of the laser engraver you only need one type of aluminium extrusion profile.
This type is the 20*20mm type
For the actual building process you need 2different lenghts of this 20*20mm extrusion profile.
3) Aluminium rail
To support the loads of the machine 4 aluminium rails are necesarry. All of them are 8mm in diameter and 210mm long. The precise lenght does not need to be extremely accurate because it's just a support structre. Way more important than the lenght of the rail is the parallelity between the rails. If the rails are not mounted correctly the moter has to push way harder because it stucks. Therefore the stepper can loose steps and the endresult is not accurate.
To connect the bearings and the timing belt i designed a cennecter out of 2mm sheet aluminium. You can use the "trick" with the paper but it is not recomended for metal.
The better solution is to make it on a mill.
To build the lser engraver you need two parts of it. One for the X axis and one for the Y axis. Therefore you can eventually make the two part with one go.
Step 3: Structure
After you made the parts into the right size with the right drilligngs you can start to assemble the parts togheter.
We start with de base plate out of plywood.
1) Engraver stand
To support the structure and to bring it off the ground, to fit in the motor and electronics, we need to screw the 100mm aluminium profiles to the base plate.
For that you need to cut a thread into the rail.
You can cut the thread as deep as you want to, it does not really matter.
To secure it i would consider a flat headed screw, so that the base plate is on the ground and not the srew head.
The next step is to build the cube.
For this you obviously need 12 200mm profile rails.
You again need to cut threads into the profile rail.
To connect the parts togehter you need a special three sided corner bracket.
I looks something like this:
After you connected all 12 parts it should look something like this:
3) connecting the cube
The next step is tho connect the cube with the stands:
Step 4: Bearings and motors
The next step in the build process is the implementation of the bearings in the engraver.
The first thing you can do is to put the bearings onto the rail
Then you can mount the rails onto the 200 mm aluminium profile.
There are a few ways how you can do it.
The best solution would be to make a bracket for the rail and secure the rail itself with a grub screw.
The unprofessional way (like I did) is to drill a 8mm hole into the rail and secure it there.
With this approach it looks something like this:
2) Connect the bearings
Now that the bearings are secured you can connect them togehter using the alredy shown aluminium plate. For that purpose you can use almost every type of screw you want.
3) Setting up the motor
The next step is to istall the stepper motor.
For that i just used the corner brackets that secure the cube to the stands.
This configuaration has some advantages and disadvantages.
Because it is just screwed down at to points the bonding can become loose over time.
You can see that when the timming belt gets loose over time.
The advantage is that it is easy to install uses fewer parts and you can turn it a little, therefore you can adjust the tightness of the timing belt.
All in all there are a few possible methods to install the stepper motor and i just used that and it worked quite good.
This is the assembly of the stepper motor of the y axis:
This is the assembly of the stepper motor on the X axis:
It is more or less the same, but i changed the orientation to increase the space of the working table.
Step 5: Timing belt assembly
To install the timing belt you first need to make some new parts.
Some of them are easier than others...
1) Y Axis
For the Y axis you need 3 additional parts
The first two fairly similar
In order to reach the timing belt we need some kind of distance holder
(because the motor is around 15mm above the Y axis surface plate)
That's why you need to make such a distance holder:
After you finnished making the distance holder, you can make the actual plate that holds the timing belt to axis.
In order to do so you have to make a part with the same dimension just not as thick.
This part only is 2mm in diameter.
2) Timing belt holder
At the other end of the Laser engraver the timing belt has to be secured again to be able to move.
For that i designed a rather unusual looking part.
If you want to make it I personally would make it on a 3D printer because it is not cruical for the accuracy of the machine itself.
Otherwise if you have no access to a 3D priter you can make a similar part without the curves and holes.
If you have one: Here is how it looks:
Almost the same parts are at the X axis
3) Assembly of the timing belt:
The next stepp is to assemble the timing belt.
For that you need to screw the disctance block to the bearing connector.
The orientation does not matter because it is the same from all directions.
After you assembled the distance block you can insert the timing belt between the disctance block and the smaller top part. Once the timing belt is tight you can screw it even further to prevent it from slipping out.
Tip: If you used my method of installing the stepper motor, you can loose it a little so that the assembly is easier. Once everything is screwed down you can take back the motor to the same old position.
Step 6: Laser and working table
The next step is to assemble the working plate an the laser
First thing to start is the laser
1) Laser Holder
To work with the laser you first need to make some kind of suspension for the laser so it is locked in place.
For that I again used some sheet metal aluminium 2mm and made all the drillings.
After i made all the drillings i bended it so it had a 90° angle for the beste laser output.
The holder looks like this:
The assembled version looks like this:
2) The actual Laser
Now to the actual Laser.
I used a 1500mW KKmoon Laser for around 20 Eur
It came with a built in heatsink.
I couldn't find the real one so I had to design it myself in a few minutes.
3) Working table
To laser object you need a working table.
With this kind of machine a working table of 100*100mm is possible.
For my actual machine i just used some chipboard.
But the chipboard doesn't look very nice.
So i would advise you to use some kind of other material.
4) Assembly of the working plate:
Step 7: Electronics (schematics)
Once you have done all the mechanical work on your project, it is time to wire everything up.
Because this is GrabCAD and the schematics is not from me, this is just a quick summary.
You can find almost anything elswhere like:
1) The arduino Uno board:
The Arduino Uno board is originally designed for 3D Printers.
So it is good enough for the Laser engraver that just needs 2 axis.
The breakoutboard looks like this:
2) The schematics:
Step 8: Electronics (Assembly)
The last mechanical work to do is to install the electronic box
You can either buy an electronic box or print it yourself if you have access to a 3D printer.
1) Electronic Box
The first thing you have to do is to screw down the electronic bow onto the ground plate
2) Cable gland
The next thing is to install cable glands.
The cable glands prevent cables from falling off the pcb.
I used four small cable glands which is not required.
You can use one big as well.
All the cable glands are not necesary but good.
Same goes for proper cable manegement.
I wanted to perzonalize my own project so i used two component plastic.
The upper part is blue and the lower part is whithe.
Then i carved out my name using a desktop CNC.
This all is just for a better look not for performance.
Step 9: Programming
I dindn't programm the Arduino myself.
I used the Marlin firmware
Step 10: G-Code
If you have installed Marlin onto you Arduino, you now have many option to control your laser engraver.
2 very good option are Pronterface and Inkscape
Inkcpape (you need a plug in for laser)
Plug in download:
Good video for that:
Step 11: Testing
The last step is to test and use your machine
I built my machine 2 years ago back when i was apprentice mechatronics
I like designig and building things.
So if you have a projecte or anything like that feel free to contact me.
Same goes with questions on this project.
In my project folder i have much more data and information so if you are intersted feel free to contact me as well.
I hope you liked it.
If you want to you can give me a review or some advice what could be made better.