DVD laser diode used to build a laser engraver

diy-laser-engraver

[Johannes] has been reading Hackaday for years but this is the first project he’s tipped us off about. It’s a laser engraver built from a DVD burner diode (translated). It turned out so well we wonder what other projects he’s forgotten to tip us off about?

This is the second CNC machine he’s seen through from start to finish. It improves upon the knowledge he acquired when building his CNC mill. The frame is built from pine but also uses bits of plywood and MDF. It can move on the X and Y axes, using drawer sliders as bearings. The pair of blue stepper motors drive the threaded rods which move the platform and the laser mount. Just above the laser he included a small DC fan to keep it from burning up. The control circuitry is made up of an Arduino Nano and a stepper motor driver board. Catch a glimpse of the engraver cutting out some stencil material after the break.

There must be something about Spring that brings out the urge to work with laser diodes. We just saw a similar 1W cutter last week.

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High contrast laser etching

high-contrast-laser-etching

The problem with laser etching dark materials is that the areas burnt away by the intense light don’t really stand out from the rest of the surface. [The 5th Fool] is taking a roundabout way of correcting this by topping his laser engravings with contrasting paint. The technique is still pretty simple and we think it looks great!

Basically he’s etching a layer of painter’s tape which becomes a stencil. But the surface it is masking also gets etched so the paint has an area below to the surface which it can fill in. We figure this will help with durability issues.

After etching the painters tape the design gets a few coatings of a high-contrast paint color and is left to dry. To remove the stencil, duct tape is applied to the entire area. This helps quite a bit in removing the tiny bits of tape from an intricate design.

Blu-ray CNC looks great for branding and engraving

[Nav] got the bug for a tiny little laser cutter. He pulled off the build, and has just finished the second rendition which makes some nice improvements. He’s was hoping for a laser cutter, but we think this really shines when it comes to branding objects like the scrap wood seen above.

This joins a long line of optical drive parts builds. For instance, we saw this plotter that used the lens sleds from some CD-ROM drives. You may think that [Nav] doesn’t need to worry about the Z axis since this is a laser but you’d be wrong. The focal point of the light needs to hit at the right place to cut efficiently, and this is often the trouble with laser cutters. As material is burned away the laser becomes less efficient if you don’t adjust the lens for vertical position. That’s why we think it’s best as an engraver, but the original build writeup for his cutter does show some success cutting letters in dark paper.

Check out a clip of this design being burnt into the wood after the break.

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BAMF2011: Lasersaur is one BIG laser cutter!

Psst…wanna buy a laser cutter, but not ready to sell your internal organs? Nortd Labs’ Lasersaur project aims to create an open source large-format laser cutter/engraver that undercuts (har har!) the cost of commercial models by an order of magnitude.

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Buying a Laser Cutter From China

We here at Hackaday have been pining over these cheap laser cutters on the e-bay. They are, however, just outside of the price range to make them worth ponying up for.  [Stephen Hobley] however seems to have taken one for the team in his three part series, and is allowing us to live vicariously through is experiences.

Not surprisingly the price point leads to the potential for headaches. The units ship directly from China, and see their fair share of rough handling from package carriers. Broken/misaligned laser tubes are not uncommon (replacement tubes are prevalent). Shockingly the laser tube managed to survive the seven thousand mile journey! That only leaves a couple crucial modifications and careful cleaning and aligning to get the unit up and running. You didn’t think it would be that easy, did you?

To top off all the modifications adjustments and cleaning steps [Stephen] found (in part three) that his controller board was on the fritz. With a new one on the way from China, [Stephen] is debating either reverse engineering the included controller board or coming up with his own CNC solution. We could suggest quite a few alternate solutions ourselves.

We will be glued to [Stephen]‘s blog for updates.

Stick around for a video of what we all really want to see, a laser burning stuff.

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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.

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CNC wood router


[GlacialWanderer] has published the first pictures from his CNC machine build. It’s a three axis gantry style machine that he intends to route and engrave wood with. He’s posted a detailed cost breakdown: $1800. He estimates spending 30 hours researching on sites like CNCzone. The build time for the mechanical side was around 50 hours. The electrical system hasn’t been hoooked up yet, so look for that in a future post. It looks like an incredible machine already, so we can’t wait to see what’s next.

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