CNC Plotter Uses Only the Good DVD Drive Parts

It wasn’t that long ago that wanting to own your own 3D printer meant learning as much as you possibly could about CNC machines and then boostrapping your first printer. Now you can borrow time on one pretty easily, and somewhat affordably buy your own. If you take either of these routes you don’t need to know much about CNC, but why not use the tool to learn? This is what [Wootin24] did when building a 3D printed plotter with DVD drive parts.

Plotters made from scrapped floppy, optical drives, and printers are a popular hand, and well worth a weekend of your time. This one, however, is quite a bit different. [Wootin24] used the drives to source just the important parts for CNC precision: the rods, motors, motors, and bearings. The difference is that he designed and 3D printed his own mounting brackets rather than making do with what the optical drive parts are attached to.

This guide focuses on the gantries and the mechanics that drive them… it’s up to you to supply the motor drivers and electrical side of things. He suggests RAMPS but admins he used a simple motor driver and Arduino since they were handy.

Fail of the Week: Laser cutter that makes jagged edges

This Fail of the Week is really only a failure because of the standards to which [eLabz] holds himself. The rig pictured above is a laser cutter built out of DVD drive parts. It goes above and beyond most of the optical drive CNC projects we see around here — it actually makes cuts! But [eLabz] looks on it as a failure because the steps of the driver motors are visible as jagged edges in those cuts. We see this more as a pausing point in the development process before the next refinement is made.

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Making graphene with a DVD burner

A group of researchers have figured out how to produce graphene using a DVD drive. This discovery helps clear the path for mass production of the substance, which was discovered in the late 1980’s. More recently, the 2010 Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to a team that produced two-dimensional graphene; a substance one just atom thick. One method of doing so used Scotch tape and is mentioned in the video after the break as a technique that works but is not feasible for large-scale production.

The process seen here starts with graphite oxide because it can be suspended in water. This allows a lab technician to evenly distribute the substance on a plastic surface. Note the use of optical discs. The second part of the process involves hitting the dried layer of graphite oxide with a laser. It just so happens that this can be done with a consumer DVD drive. The result is graphene that can be used in circuits and may have potential as a fantastic super-capacitor.

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Self-feeding pen printer

At first look we thought this was a plotter, but it’s really more of a dot matrix (or line matrix) printer. [Bruno] whipped this up using parts from a DVD optical drive. It is capable of moving the pen along the Z and X axes, and feeding the paper along the Y axis.

The video after the break shows the machine printing Megaman, an image perfectly suited to the low-resolution pixels this can put out. But even without the high-pixel counts you might get from a thermal printer, we just love the look of this one. And who doesn’t have an optical drive sitting around just waiting to be hacked? It looks like the one part you’re going to have to source is the stepper motor and geared feed wheel that moves the paper.

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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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Stroboscope project uses optical drive motor and Arduino

In the quest for a diy laser cutter made from DVD burner parts (that hack’s still in the works) this guy ended up with a junk box full of optical-drive leftovers. He put some of that surplus to good use by building this stroboscope. As the media spins, the white LED just out of focus in the foreground strobes to freeze the little black figure in the same place. The effect, as seen in the video after the break, is a dancing figure created by the optical illusion.

This is the same concept as that amazing 3D rowing skeleton build, but scaled down greatly. Each of the silhouettes seen above are slightly different, showing one pose that makes up a frame of the overall animation. They’re laser cut, but some careful paper-craft could probably accomplish the same thing. Assuming you could keep them from warping when spinning at high speeds.

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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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