Mokeylaser: A DIY Laser Engraver That You Can Easily Build

[Mark aka Mokey] borrowed his friend’s open-frame laser engraver for a while, and found it somewhat lacking in features and a bit too pricey for what it was. Naturally, he thought he could do better (video, embedded below.) After a spot of modelling in Fusion 360, and some online shopping at the usual places, he had all the parts needed to construct an X-Y bot, and we reckon it looks like a pretty good starting point. [Mark] had a Sainsmart FL55 5.5W laser module kicking around, so that was dropped into the build, together with the usual Arduino plus CNC shield combo running GRBL.

[Mark] has provided the full F360 source (see the mokeylaser GitHub) and a comprehensive bill-of-materials, weighing in at about $400, and based upon the usual 2040 aluminium extrusions. This makes MokeyLaser a reasonable starting point for further development. Future plans include upgrading the controller to something a bit more modern (and 32-bits) as well as a more powerful laser (we do hope he’s got some proper laser glasses!) and adding air assist. In our experience, air assist will definitely improve matters, clearing out the smoke from the beam path and increasing the penetration of the laser significantly. We think there is no need for more optical power (and greater risk) for this application. [Mark] says in the video that he’s working on an additional build video, so maybe come by later and check that out?

Obviously, MokeyLaser is by no means the only such beast we’ve featured, here’s the engravinator for starters. For even more minimalism, we covered a build with some smart optics doing all the work. But what if you don’t happen to have a 5W laser module “lying around” then perhaps try a more natural heat source instead?

25 thoughts on “Mokeylaser: A DIY Laser Engraver That You Can Easily Build

      1. Well now he can sit with his friends, audiophool monkey who wanted to see what it was like to sit between two 1000W drivers and chemistry hacker monkey who got a really annoying itchy throat and swigged the nearest transparent fluid.

  1. Looks like a monkey clone of a Chinese clone of a laser engraving, with the same features: No safety. AT ALL:
    – No enclosure and interlock, no key switch, no emergency button
    – No fumes exhaust system, no air filtering, and not even a fuse !

    Also that near-UV laser wavelength like this is would very easily punch a hole through ones retina, CO2 infrared laser wavelength is in comparison much safer.

    If one burn down his house with such a monster, no insurance will ever cover the damage.
    And for that same price, one can get a – much safer in comparison, although not great – 40W enclosed CO2 laser.

    Despite the previous article here attempting to clear any editorial responsibility about ADVERTISING UNSAFE “hacks”, I still do not thing this should not be featured here, especially considering HaD is attempting to make hardware things accessible to a younger and / or less experienced audience.

    There is not even a warning from the writer, and this passed editorial combs. Borderline criminal. With power (and definitely this website has, with its large audience and INFLUENCE) comes responsibility. But it seems the editorial line is to steer clear of any responsibility, and shrug at attempts from commenters to correct this, and bury things under the carpet. No good. Safety is a culture, and relentless warnings is one way to ensure the message got through.

    1. Nah, I disagree.

      The writer bears no responsibility for people reading someone else’s project and injuring themselves. Anyone who has ever used a laser has seen the warnings and to use a more powerful laser with reckless abandon is a personal folly where you bear the consequences of your own stupidity.

      People like you are why we cant have nice things.

      1. Waste of effort. If your going to stay with china brands then look at fox alien. The 20 watt diode laser comes in at under $500, has the rotary included. Its also has 2 motors on the x axis. Runs with lightburn as well.

        1. Please don’t buy into the marketing bs, just by looking at the module and non existing absurd laser beam marketing images, I knew something was off.

          Only a few companies have shown (this year) and are selling 20w diode lasers at this moment (I believe only 2) and FoxAlien is not one of them (yet).

          With diode lasers, always look for “optical output” or “laser output power” and the absurd marketing images they will show.

          All their “20w” lasers are 5.5w and the “40w” is 10w optical output power.

  2. Could he have based this around the Ortur Laser Master 2 instead ?, considering the recent article about them publishing their source code, and the very similar build and price ? The costliest thing in these machines at this price point is the laser, after all.

  3. Sweet design, and a nice bit of gear.

    Next? A box. The nice thing about putting a box around your laser cutter/engraver is that it solves all of the big problems at once: You don’t get hit in the eye, and you can add exhaust to the box to keep your house from smelling like campfire.

    Air assist is another good upgrade, but I would do it after (or with, if you’re super clever) a case and exhaust.

    Just for the record: there’s a reason that similar “commercial” engravers are sold as kits. The open design would be illegal to sell as a finished product due to laser safety regs, at least in the US. I love the minimalist strap-a-laser-to-an-XY idea for careful hackers, but it’s not the _right_ way to do things. Treat it like a loaded gun or a sketchy table saw.

    1. On the commercial ones, the box never comes included for price reasons, but strangely enough, no engraver with the standard design comes with an enclosure, even as an option.
      However, there are many DIY designs online for enclosures, while the few sold rigid ones aren’t cheap. That’s the main difference (with the type of laser used) between the K40-like cutters and these ones, after all.

    2. I’ve decided to add a laser to my 3D printer in progress (gd0105) precisely because everything I need for a safe laser cutter is already needed for the printer or additional features (ventilation+filtration, sealed enclosure that blocks light, pressurised air) and I researched other laser engravers/cutters on the buy and DIY market and there’s extremely few (diode) options.

      Research papers also suggest that I can use the laser to cure silver paste traces for 3DPCBs and achieve a lower resistance than oven curing.

  4. I bought in on the Lasersaur back in 2011 when it was still in Alpha testing. I’ve hauled that useless frame of metal through four moves from the Southeastern U.S. to the Olympic Peninsula in western Washington. In all that time I have never been able to get it to work or get any kid of coherent support from the project subject matter experts.

    Never even got the stepper motors to kick on much less get the interface to recognize the Arduino Uno board. $5000 in parts and shipping I’ll never get back.

    I sincerely hope this build is easier for folks without a hardware programming background to bring online.

  5. So, suppressing the comments about safety is a new guideline here ?

    This design is terrible: no enclosure, no interlock, no emergency button, no power key lock, and not even a fuse. And on top of that it´s using a Class IV Near-UV laser which can burn a hole through a retina in a fraction of second, which is way more dangerous than a CO2 laser.

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