Arduino-Powered Laser Engraver

Hi everybody, my name is Michiel and I am going to show you how to make an awesome looking laser engraver!

Arduino-Powered Laser Engraver

A couple of months ago, there was a CNC challenge here at instructables, while checking out the entries of that contest, I saw some pretty cool engraving machines and I thought: “Why shouldn’t I make my own?”. And so I did, but I didn’t want to make someone else’s project, I wanted to make my own. And so my story began… 🙂

This laser engraver uses a 1.8W 445nm laser module, of course, this is nothing compared to the industrial laser cutters who use lasers of (a lot) more than 50W. But this laser will do well for us. It can cut through paper and cardboard and it can engrave all kinds of wood. I haven’t tested other materials yet, but I’m sure it can engrave many other materials. l will let you know! It has a large engraving surface of about 500x380mm.

Who can make this laser engraver? Everybody, if you are an engineer, a lawyer, a teacher or a student like me, you can build this thing! All you have to do is follow this instructable.

It took me about three months to design and build this engraving machine, including waiting for about a month for parts. I said three months, but, I’m only 16 years old, so I could only work in weekends.

++ As you may already know, this ‘machine’ uses a 1.8W laser with a wavelength of 445nm, the radiation of this laser is very dangerous for your eyes, even a reflection of it! So I strongly advise you to use safety goggles with the wavelength of the laser you use! ++

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Step 1: Bill of Materials

You can’t make a laser engraver without the parts, so I made a BOM-list with almost everything you need to make it. Almost everything in the BOM is bought from because it’s cheap and it has free shipping for most items. Other parts like the threated rods and the wooden sheets were purchased at my local DIY company. I ordered the laser and the laser driver on ebay.

UPDATE: I’ve uploaded the BOM in two formats: one .pdf and one .xlsx since not everybody could open the BOM.

I tried to find the cheapest products for all the parts (shipping not included).

Step 2: Design

Well, It took me a lot of time before I came to this design, first I made a few others, but this one was truly the nicest design i’ve made (if i may :)). I have drawn all of the parts you need to make on my computer and I uploaded them somewhere in this step (go find them!). If there are missing a few dimensions on some of the drawings, it’s because I will tell you later in this instructable or because it really doesn’t matter :).
The whole machine is made of MDF sheets with a thickness of 18mm and 12mm.

I made this design also because it would be very easy to attach a Z-axis and a dremel rorary tool so you can convert it to a cnc router.

UPDATE: Do you want to make the parts with a cnc router? No problem! I’ve uploaded STL files of all the parts so you can easily make them with a laser cutter or cnc router.

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**Sorry for the names of al the parts, I thought they would be better.
Of course, I could have made an other simpler design… But hey! Where’s the fun of that!

This step in one sentence: Print the drawings! 🙂

Step 3: Make the Wooden Parts

When you have printed the drawings, draw them on your wooden sheets (the right ones!) and saw them out with a jigsaw. If you don’t have a jigsaw, go ask one to your brother, neighbour, cousin, colleague, santa, or go fetch one in your local store. When all the parts are sawed in the right form, it’s time to drill the holes.

– The electronics case front and top: These parts don’t have a flat side, so I drawed the angle with a pencil on the other sides and used a dremel rotary tool with that sandy bandy thing on it, I don’t really know the name of it. If you don’t have a dremel yourself, please don’t bother your friends again and buy your own dremel! Just kidding, a rotary tool is a very handy tool and you should really buy one.

– The X- and Y-Axis nut supports: These parts have a hexagonal hole in it so they can hold a nut. To make that hexagonal hole, you need to drill a hole with a diameter of 11 mm through the part. Next, put the threated rod in the hole and screw the nuts on both sides, take a pencil and draw the shape of the nut on the part. Remove the nut and the threated rod. Now, take again your dremel and with a little cutter thing on it (see images), cut out that hexagonal hole with a depth of 6 mm and put a nut in it. Have a look at the images, they show wat you need to do.

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