Bench-top laser engraver does some cutting too

Grab that stack of old optical drives you have in the corner and get to work building this laser engraver. [Groover] is taking a no-nonsense approach to the build and we think it is just simple enough to be accessible to a very wide audience.

The physical assembly uses sleds from two optical drives. These are mounted some angle bracket. Since lasers cut at one specific focal length, there is not need for a Z axis (simplifying the build greatly). In fact, we think the hardest part of the assembly is retrieving the laser diode from a DVD-R drive and packaging it for use with this setup.

The electronics are a combination of a couple of consumer products. Two pre-fab motor drivers are used to command the stepper motors on the optical sleds. These receive their commands from an Arduino. A package called GRBL reads in G-code ([Groover] shows how to generate this from Inkscape) and in turn sends commands to the Arduino.

The results are quite remarkable. It can engrave wood with great resolution and contrast. The video after the break even shows it cutting out shapes from construction paper. Now we still want our own full-size laser cutter, but this project is much more fiscally possible for us.

[Read more...]

Make your own cookie cutters this year

In case you needed another reason to build, borrow, or buy a 3D printer, here’s one way to design and print your own cookie cutters. [Nikolaus Gradwohl] put together a processing app that aims to make the design process a bit easier. So if you’ve never designed a printable object before, but can get your hands on a MakerBot or similar device through a friend or your local hackerspace, this is for you. Check out the video after the break to see the process of making a cutter in the shape of a mushroom, or just download the app and give it a go.

[Read more...]

Building a laser cutter from a weak laser

We covet laser cutters and this diy model with a 1 Watt IR diode may be well within our price range. Most commercially available laser cutters, and some homemade ones, work in the 20-100 Watt ranges, using a CO2 laser. They have more than enough power to cut right through a lot of materials so how can a 1W diode compare? It seems that the weaker laser is still quite powerful right at its focal length, so moving that point along the Z axis will let you burn away a larger depth of material. The test rig seen above uses optical drive components for the three axes and managed to cut a rectangular piece out of the black plastic from a CD case.

This isn’t [Peter's] first try with CNC lasers. He’s the one that’s be working on an open source selective laser sintering platform.

[Thanks Osgeld and Vesanies]

Laser-cut puzzle box

One of our fondest memories from the 1980’s is watching Magnum P.I. on television. Higgins, Magnum’s employer, had a puzzle box that Magnum could never figure out how to open. Now you can laser cut a puzzle box for yourself and recreate some scenes from television’s glory days.

The design for the box pictured above is not new. The plans for the Cubey 2 project have been around for a while but relied on your mad-woodworking-skills to turn out the pieces. Since we’re not great with a chisel we were happy to see vector graphic and encapsulated postscript files to robotically aid in production. Once the puzzle parts have been assembled a facade is adhered onto each side to hide the pieces. This means you can go for Higgins’ traditional puzzle-box look or sport the hellraiser.

CNC hot wire cutter from scanners

hot-wire-cutter-from-scanners

[Raul] built a CNC hot wire cutter that he uses for cutting shapes out of foam. His device uses two flat bed scanners to provide two planes of motion. One scanner arm has the foam mounted on it and provides the Y-axis movement. The other scanner has the hot wire mounted on it and provides the X-axis movement. The cutting wire is mounted on a flexed bow made from heavy gauge coat hanger wire.

He tapped into the logic board of one scanner to gain access to the motor movements. The other is connected through a couple of H-bridges. Both are controlled by an Atmel AVR ATmega128 which in turn takes its commands from a connection with a computer printer port. A python program uses vector graphic files in SVG format and traces the outline for cutting.

We’ve got a video of this in action after the break. At our request, [Raul] took some time to post a set of pictures and make comments on them. Thanks for the hard work and great job! [Read more...]

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