The Laser Cutter Attachment For A 3D Printer

cheapo If you already have a 3D printer, you already have a machine that will trace out gears, cogs, and enclosures over an XY plane. How about strapping a laser to your extruder and turning your printer into a laser cutter? That’s what [Spiritplumber] did, and he’s actually cutting 3/16″ wood and 1/4″ acrylic with his 3D printer.

[Spiritplumber] is using a 445nm laser diode attached directly to his extruder mount to turn his 3D printer into a laser cutter. The great thing about putting a laser diode on an extruder is that no additional power supplies are needed; after installing a few connectors near the hot end, [Spiritplumber] is able to switch from extruding to lasing by just swapping a few wires. The software isn’t a problem either: it’s all just Gcode and DXFs, anyway.

There’s an Indiegogo for this, with the laser available for $200. Compare that to the Chinese laser cutters on eBay, and you can see why this is called the L-CHEAPO laser cutter.

Turning A Laser Cutter Into A 3D Printer With OpenSLS


[Andreas Bastian] has been working on a device that turns an off-the-shelf laser cutter into something capable of selective laser sintering of powdered plastics into 3D objects. He’s put in a lot of work, but now he gets to see the fruits of his labor: he’s successfully printed a few objects out of wax and powdered nylon.

Unlike just about every other inexpensive 3D printer, [Andreas]‘ design doesn’t rely on either squirting plastic onto a bed or curing liquid resin with UV light. Instead, a fine layer of powder is spread over a build platform and melted with a laser. The melted layer drops down, another layer of powder is applied, and the cycle repeats until the part is finished. It’s a challenge to build one of these machines, but [Andreas] had the great idea of retrofitting an off-the-shelf laser cutter, allowing him to focus on the difficult task of designing the powder and piston system.

It’s an extremely interesting project, and most of the custom parts are made from laser cut acrylic: easily cut to size on whatever laser cutter you’re retrofitting with 3D printing capability. There’s a lot of info over on the Wiki, and a few videos showing the sintering process and powder distribution below.

Oh. One last note. [Andreas] developed this while at [Jordan Miller]‘s amazing lab at Rice University. There’s a lot of interesting things happening at this Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute, including bioprinting, DLP resin printers, and using inkjets for cell cultures. Check out this post for a great talk at the Midwest RepRap Festival.

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Automatic Laser Level Made From Hard Drive Components?

hard drive laser level

[Crispndry] found he needed a laser level, but didn’t want to spend a few hundred dollars on a tool he might only get a few uses out of… So he decided to build one himself.

If you’re not familiar, a laser level projects a laser beam, level to wherever you put it — it works by having a very precise gimbal assembly that keeps the laser perpendicular to the force of gravity. To build his, [Crispndry] needed a highly precise bearing assembly in order to build his gimbal — what better to use one out of a hard drive?

He used the main bearing from the platter for one axis, and the bearing from the read and write arm for the second axis. A square tube of aluminum filled with MDF is then mounted to the bearings, creating a weighted pendulum. The laser pointer is then attached to this with an adjustment screw for calibration.  [Read more...]

The Hackaday Prize: A Ternary Computer


Bender: Ahhh, what an awful dream. Ones and zeroes everywhere… and I thought I saw a two.
Fry: It was just a dream, Bender. There’s no such thing as two.

- Futurama: A Head In The Polls, S02E07

The computer you’re using right now is simply just a highly organized state of electrons, commonly expressed in states of zero and one. Two? What is two? A ternary, or base-3, computer would be odd, disturbing, but nevertheless extremely interesting, making it a great candidate for The Hackaday Prize.

A base-3 computer isn’t a new thing, despite how odd it sounds. Moscow State University built a few dozen ternary computers named Setun back in the late 50s, and some research is being done using quantum computers and ternary arithmetic. Still, building a ternary computer from first principles – gates, truth tables, and transistors – isn’t something that’s done nowadays.

[ThunderSqueak] has been hard at work over the last few months working out the basic building blocks of her ternary computer project. She’s already figured out the basic NAND, NOR, and inverter structure that could be easily translated into assemblies made of discrete components or an IC mask.

A iDevice app, iCircuit, is being used to test out some larger circuits, using +5, -5, and 0 Volts to represent 1, -1, and 0. Going further, there are a few academic resources for constructing a ternary ALU and even ternary SRAM. While a homebrew ternary computer has little practical use, it’s an awesome example of the, ‘because it’s there’ engineering we’re looking for in a great Hackaday Prize entry.

SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is an entry in The Hackaday Prize. Build something awesome and win a trip to space or hundreds of other prizes.

Follow up of Hacker meet up at Heatsync Labs

The hacker meet up at Heatsync Labs in Mesa, AZ  on May 15th was an amazing success. I got to meet lots of new people at the gathering but more importantly I was able to interview several hackers who shared a lot of details on their current projects. I put together the short overview video above that has clips of each hacker presenting their project. If you like what you see in the teaser please watch the full 30 minute video with all the presentation footage after the break along with project page links. Also, if you’re not yet up to speed on The Hackaday Prize, the full length video starts with a short overview.

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DIY Calligraphy Nibs Get Down to Brass Tacks

diy calligraphy nibsCalligraphy is a rewarding hobby that is fairly inexpensive to get in to. For someone just starting out, poster nibs are a great way to practice making letterforms without worrying about applying the proper pressure required to use nibs that split. With a few tools, you can even make your own poster nibs like [advicevice] does in this Instructable.

Poster nibs are typically made with a single piece of brass that’s folded at the point where the nib touches the paper. The backside forms a reservoir that holds the ink. The other end is formed into a semicircular shank that is inserted into a nib holder. The nibs that [advicevice] made consist of two pieces of flat brass stock plus a section of brass tubing for the shank of the nib. One side of the nib is slightly thinner than the other to act as a reservoir. This keeps ink clinging to the nib through the magic of surface tension.

Nib construction is fairly simple. [advicevice] cut the brass stock to the desired length and width, cut notches with a  jeweler’s saw  to allow the ink to flow, and cut a piece of tubing that holds the nib snugly. He recommends using three grades of sandpaper on the edges of the brass stock and tubing. After soldering the nib to the shank, he beveled the business end by rubbing it on 150-grit sandpaper. He followed this with 350- and 600-grit papers to avoid injury and tearing the paper when writing.

If you simply must spend more money, build a machine that writes calligraphy for you.



Firing Blanks With Laser Tag

glockLast year, [Tony] was asked to develop a lasertag system with ultimate realism. This meant a system that used a blank firing replica gun, and a system to detect blank rounds being fired. Very cool, and the way he went about it includes some interesting electronics.

Because the system requires a blank to be fired before shooting a laser at a target, the entire system must be able to detect a blank being fired. [Tony]‘s first attempt used a piezo sensor to detect the shock from being fired. This system had a lot of noise and was ditched for a much better solution: a magnet mounted to the slide, and a hall effect sensor mounted to a 3D printed frame that turns this replica into a carbine.

A little bit of tweaking in software was required to inhibit the laser when the operator cocks the gun, but it looks – and sounds – really good. It’s also very, very realistic: the only way to shoot an opponent is to physically reload. Video below.

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