axCut: An Open Source Laser Cutter

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If you’ve always wanted a laser cutter and you have £1500 lying around (approx. $2500 as of today) — and you have access to a 3D printer — then you’ll want to take a look at [Damian's] open source laser cutter: axCut. The project has evolved over the last few months from some mockups in OpenSCAD to a working prototype.

You’ll want to dig through his blog posts as well as his YouTube channel for all the juicy details, but from what we can gather, [Damian] is on the home stretch. The current implementation includes a 40W CO2 laser with functioning laser control and an impressively quiet watercooling system. Although the build’s wiring remains a bit of a tangle, the prototype cuts (almost) as expected. His next hurdle is ironing out the air assist, which should prevent some fire hazard issues and keep the lens free of debris.

Check out a couple of videos after the break, and if you’re interested in getting into laser cutting but want to start smaller, have a look at the MicroSlice from a few months ago.

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Direct, Wall-Mounted Storage with Lasers and Polymorph

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We’re sure everyone could use some more storage and organization in their workshop. [Nixie] is no exception, though he also hates sacrificing tabletop space for boxes. His solution was to attach them to the wall directly by hacking together some brackets. This hack allowed him to hang everything without using internal screws which were a pain to get at if he need to removed the boxes from the wall to take with him.

[Nixie] started by laser-cutting a negative pattern for a mounting bracket that would fit the dovetail rails already on the sides of the boxes. He then pressed a piece of polymorph into this mold, slid the bracket along the side of the box…and realized it wouldn’t work. The piece wiggled around too much because it did not sit firmly in the rail. Back at the drawing board, [Nixie] split the project into two steps. He cast the screw-hole portion of the bracket in its own separate mold, then cast the railing part of the bracket directly in the dovetail section of the box, providing him a much higher degree of accuracy. After joining the two pieces, [Nixie] had a sturdy support bracket that he duplicated and attached around the rest of the bins.

Constructable: Interactive Laser Cutting

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Do you miss the old days of making things by hand, without the aid of a computer? Do you remember actually drafting drawings by hand? Well, the folks over at the Human-Computer Interaction group from the Hasso Plattner Institute have come up with a rather novel idea, combining manual input via laser pointers, to cut designs with a laser cutter. Sound familiar? A few days ago we shared another cool project on Laser Origami from the same people.

So what exactly is it? It’s an interactive drafting table which can produce very precise physical outputs from a rather imprecise input method. By using specific laser pointers, the user can instruct the laser cutter to cut, trace, or etch designs into the workpiece. A camera picks up the laser pointer and then the software cleans it up, by straightening lines, connecting the dots, etc. While only so much can be determined by the included video, it’s pretty impressive to see what the software comes up with while cutting the design… We can’t really imagine the programming behind it!

Between this and PACCAM: Interactive 2D Part Packing, it looks like laser cutting is going to get a whole lot more user friendly! Stick around after the break to see it in action, the results are quite impressive!

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Hackaday Logo Projector from a single LED

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Here’s another Trinket Contest entry that was interesting enough for its own feature. [Adam] made his own Hackaday version of the Bat signal. It’s not nearly as big, but the concept is the same. Using this single modified LED he’s able to project a 12″ image that seems quite well-defined (more pictures below).

The LED is one he pulled from an old flashlight. After sanding the dome flat he made a jig which positioned it inside of his laser cutter. From there he etched the 0.1″ logo and filled the negative space with some ink. The remaining surface was polished to help the light shine through, then positioned in front of a jeweler’s loupe to magnify the image.

There’s just a couple of hours left before the Trinket Contest draws to a close. Get your entry in for a chance to win!

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Microslice: The Tiny Arduino Laser Cutter

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[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.

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Woodcut Stamps and Conductive Ink

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Even though it’s been a while since the Rome Maker Faire, we’re still getting some tips from the trenches of Europe’s largest gathering of makers. One of these is a 30-minute experiment from [Luong]. He wondered if it would be possible to create SMD circuit boards by using a 3D printer to fabricate a stamp for conductive ink.

[Luong] told this idea  to a few folks around the faire, and the idea eventually wound up in the laps of the guys from TechLab. the Chieri, Italy hackerspace. They suggested cutting a wooden stamp using a laser cutter and within 30 minutes of the idea’s inception a completed stamp for an Atari Punk Console PCB was in [Luong]‘s hands.

As an experiment, the idea was a tremendous success. As a tool, the stamp didn’t perform as well as hoped; the traces didn’t transfer properly, and there’s no way this wooden laser cut stamp could ever create usable PCBs.

That being said, we’re thinking [Luong] is on the right track here with printed PCBs. One of the holy grails of home fabrication is the creation of printed circuit boards, and even a partial success is too big to ignore.

This idea for CNC-created PCB stamps might work with a different material – linoleum or other rubber stamp material, or even a CNC milled aluminum plate. If you have any ideas on how to use this technique for PCB creation, leave a note in the comments, or better yet, try it out for yourself.

Custom Wireless Headphone Charging Station

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We’ve come to expect quite a lot of convenience from our technology, to the point where repeatedly plugging in a device for recharging can seem tedious. Hackaday regular [Valentin Ameres] decided to ditch the plugs and built his own wireless headphone charger. We’ve seen [Valentin's] work before, and one thing’s for certain: this guy loves his laser cutter. And he should, considering it’s churned out key components for a gorgeous Arc Reactor replica and his Airsoft Turret. [Valentin] fired it up yet again to carve the charging stand out of acrylic, then used a small torch and the edge of a table to bend the stand into shape.

He sourced the needed coils online and soldered the receiving coil to a spare miniUSB plug. These components are glued onto a laser-cut acrylic attachment, which fits against the side of the headphone and is held in place by plugging directly into the earpiece’s miniUSB jack. The headphones rest on the laser-cut charging stand, which has an extrusion of acrylic on one side that holds the emitter coil in position against the receiver coil. [Valentin] also added a simple momentary switch at the top of the stand to activate both the emitter coil and a status LED when pressed by the headphones.

Stick around for a video of the build below, and check out some other headphone hacks, like adding a Bluetooth upgrade or making a custom pair out of construction earmuffs.

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