Adding a Manual Z-axis To Your Laser

DSC07543 (Custom)

[Martin Raynsford] sells lasers, and laser cuts stuff for a living — we’re kinda jealous. Anyway, laser cutters from China are great, but sometimes lack certain functionality, so he decided to add his own z-axis feature!

The main laser cutter he uses has a very slow z-axis, and it’s also difficult to control — a job can’t be paused to adjust the height offset, the datum must be set every time manually, and you have to be in the very top level of the menu in order to do anything with it! With this in mind, [Martin] decided to add his own z-axis control, completely separate from the laser’s on board control system.

He’s using an Arduino Pro Mini to control the stepper motor with PWM. His new controller has four buttons — fast and slow, in each direction. He’s used the original end stops to protect the axis, and he’s also added a feature to set a datum by holding down both fast and slow buttons at the same time. It ended up being a very cheap upgrade to his system, and he’s also shared the source for anyone looking to recreate it.

For other useful laser cutter hacks, don’t forget to check out this super cheap method of making your own laser mirrors! Or how about a cheap honeycomb bed made out of a radiator?

Comments

  1. 0xfred says:

    A hack? That luxury, that is! I dream of a Z-axis as nice as that ;-)

    This is a hack… 4 coach bolts in each corner to support the Z axis. I even drew little arrows on them to make it easier to get it level. If a piece of acrylic of a known size just fits between the lens and the stock then you’re focused.

    http://0xfred.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/laser-improvements-an-adjustable-honeycomb-table/

  2. 0xfred says:

    Now I feel bad that I made a frivolous comment and a day later it’s the only one, especially as I chatted to Martin at the London mini Maker Faire and he seemed like a nice guy.

    It’s a perfect hack to modify what you already have to do what you need.

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