Microslice: The Tiny Arduino Laser Cutter

[SilverJimmy] already had a full-sized 50 watt laser cutter, but he decided to try his hand at putting together something smaller and microcontroller-driven. The result is this adorable little engraver: the MicroSlice.

To keep the design simple, [SilverJimmy] opted for a fixed cutting table, which meant moving the cutting head and the X-Axis as a unit along the Y-Axis. The solution was to take inspiration from gantry cranes. He snagged a couple of stepper motors with threaded shafts, designed the parts in Inkscape, then fired up his full-size cutter to carve out the pieces. An Arduino Uno and the relays for the laser and fans sit on the MicroSlice’s bottom platform, and two EasyDriver motor controllers sit above them on the next layer.

Swing by the Instructables for more details including the source code, and to see a video of the engraver below. [SilverJimmy] sourced his laser from eBay, but check out the engraver from earlier this year that used a DVD diode.

37 thoughts on “Microslice: The Tiny Arduino Laser Cutter

  1. That’s sweet! I always wanted to do a tiny CNC machine by using my big one to make a smaller one. But I’ve always wanted to fart around with a laser setup, and this idea seems like a good idea.

    1. Ah crap now you’ve really gotten me. The parts for a tiny laser cutter are what I want for Christmas now :) I am curious though if makerslide would work better if I wanted to go a bit bigger.

  2. I think it’s just an engraver, a cutter would cut through. Very impressive and well finished project nevertheless, you usually do not see such quality for a first version.

  3. Wow, very inspiring. Only thing holding me back from making this project is that I have 4 80% finished projects. ^ ^
    I hope I’m not the only one with the “finish it 80% starts different project, moves on” syndrome am I?

      1. Me too. I found that you have to take a look at your definition of a successful project.

        If you wanted to produce a finished item then it’s a fail. However, if making things is your hobby and you’ve enjoyed the process of getting it to 80%, then you can honestly call it a success and move on. You’ve achieved your goal of having fun and perhaps learning something new.

        I must admit it’s still nice to complete some things – just don’t stress over the ones that don’t quite make it all the way to the end.

    1. Nope, you’re not alone. I finish maybe 2/10 projects. The rest just sort of die out just on the finish line. For some reason I hate that last bit of polish. I have 3 projects within arms reach now that I started over a year ago *sigh*

        1. I think its more a matter of shifting my focus to a new project and that the last 20% isn’t that hard, but more boring when all the sexy bits of the project have all been finished.
          Gotta love hackaday when they have all this cool stuff on here : )

  4. Solenoid i think an engraver can cut if you keep making passes over the same line eventually you will cut all the way through.

    also if you have a piece that is coated in a resist coating like used for etching pcb boards you could then engrave the design and put it in a strong acid that will eat all the way through and then wash off the piece to stop any more etching you can get the same thing.

    1. Not always, sometimes the residue from the first cut blocks the second.

      Ok, it’s not going to happen with this laser, but it happens when cutting wood. The nicely charred black edges are really good at absorbing the energy on the second pass, so not much happens. Using air to blow away the soot can help.

  5. i had planed to do this exact thing for so long, however it simply got lost in the list of to-do projects. regardless kudos to him.

  6. He needs to sell these as kits. I’d gladly pay $500 for a ready to assemble kit for a tiny laser cutter that can do wood or thin aluminum.

    1. You can get a 40W laser on Ebay ready-built for that sort of money. (Software is rubbish but eh). Cuts wood, plastic & finger no problem.

      Thin aluminium?

      $500 might buy you the cooler for the tube… (2nd hand, on sale…)

      (And for the bloke who made it, the ‘I’d like to buy a kit!! crowd never follow through)

      1. No power supply either (not that you need anything special).

        But 360 quid!! Good lord. He must think so as well as he’s tossed in the Arduino.

        1. For $600 USD you can get a NICE CNC frame that could one day be your 3d printer, another be (carefully) milling aluminum, and yet another doing something else. Expensive, yes, but it’s a different league I’m thinking.

      2. FWIW after the eBay link rots away, it sold for 425 quid, or about $775 USD, (including shipping).

        He was astonished as well, and tossed in the rest of the parts (laser, driver etc) to make it a full kit.

        Equally impressive was the 13,000+ page views.

    2. My laser cutter can do thin aluminum. But the laser in it is something like $60,000. It’s a frequency tripled yag.

      It takes a massive amount of power to cut aluminum and for that matter, any other metal. I dont know what you consider thin, but probably 500watts is minimum for a CO2 laser to even start touching aluminum. Steel can be cut at lower powers when using oxygen as an assist gas.

  7. In my DVD-scrapyard lasercutter i use 2 TIP120 to switch the laser and fan, i wonder why he is using relays? A TIP120 is much faster and survives mor switching cycles than a relay.

  8. Open laser that can burn? Screws up your eyes, for sure. Laser safety is no joke people. Anyone running one of these near me would have their power unplugged, a nice talk with me, and if you do not understand the problem, I will destroy your machine. I kid you not, eye damage is irreversible.

    1. Don’t look into laser with remaining eye. (And cornea is replaceable, lens too, though neither is something to be looked for. It’s the retina, and the visible and near-IR wavelengths that reach it, to worry about most.)

      Just wear the bloody goggles and shut up. That’s what they are for.

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