Version 2 coming soon!
Introduducing 3DPILE - a 3D Printed Inexpensive Laser Engraver
Special thanks to 3dprint.com for writing an article about my project.
This is my entry for the LightItUp contest, because a laser diode is basically just a focused LED outputting one specific wavelength.
Here you can find the printed parts and instructions to build a fully functional laser engraver out of two DVD drives and some other electronic parts for just 20-50$.
Why is this project cool/something special?
You may ask yourself: Why is this project so cool? There is simply one answer. It's the price point, which makes it something special. You can build this amazing laser engraver for just as low as 20$, if you already have some parts at home and carefully source the parts. And it is just awesome having an accurate, 3D printed and accurate laser engraver for just 20-50$, isn't it?
I designed this project using SolidWorks. I tried to keep everything as simple as possible (almost no nuts, screws will create their thread) and I focused on the printability of all parts (all parts can be printed on a standard Makerbot Replicator). And I wanted to keep the cost as low as possible.
How it works:
It works basically like a 3D printer, only that it does carry a laser diode instead of an extruder. You use Inkscape with a plugin to generate the files the printer uses. Then you just send it to the engraver and it will start the engraving process.
To show how it works, I have made a short video:
The costs of this project will be between 20-50$ depending on where and what you order and if you need to buy the DVD drives or other stuff.
17th of June 2015
- reworked the base cause it was too wobbly, now it is nice and stiff
21th of June 2015
- added an optional fan holder - useful for cooling your laser and blowing away the fumes (you will need an Arctic USB fan)
- added a STL called "Extender". Use this, if you can't focus your laser, because the distance between the workpiece and the diode is too low
Simply drop a comment or write me a message, if you have questions! Always happy to help! :)
Safety first! Be very careful when working with lasers!
You will need:
- 2x Easydriver (eBay, about 6$)
- 1x Arduino Uno/Nano (eBay, 4-20$ depending if it is a Clone or not)
- 2x CD/DVD drives (one has to be a DVD writer, 20$ if you buy them used)
- 1x laser diode driver (I got mine from this eBayer (super nice guy, fast shipping and nice service: http://www.ebay.de/usr/anomalytech?_trksid=p2047675.l2559) (10-15$)
- 1x breadboard to connect everything (5$)
- some jumper wires for the breadboard
- some wires to connect the steppers
- 8x M3 screws not longer than 20mm (2$)
- 1x 5V power supply at least 1A (5$)
- 1x housing for the laser (5$)
- some nuts or some washers to put on the screws to fasten the carriages (1$)
- Arctic USB Fan (7$)
- Extender.STL (use this when you are experiencing issues focusing your laser)
- 2x M3 nuts, depending if you use the Fan and its holder (0.20$)
That's in total, if you already have the DVD drives, the cables and the breadboard 30$.
Suggested print settings:
- Extrusion widh: 0.48mm
- Layer height: 0.2mm
- Infill percentage: 30-40% (the higher, the better)
- Print speed: 30-100mm/s (depending on your printer)
- Support: no support except "Extender.STL", which isn't a necessary part
Tearing apart the DVD drives:
Open the DVD drives take out the carriages and take the red laser out of the DVD reader/writer. I won't cover this, because this step is individual, depending on your DVD drive brand.
Screw everything together like on the pictures and mount the linear carriages.
Press-fit the laser:
Use a vice and a towel to press-fit the laser in its housing. Another way to do it is to heat up the laser housing (don't heat it up too hot or you will damage the laser) and then put the laser in.
Connecting your laser:
Connect your laser driver to the laser. I can't give you instructions to this step, because it is too individual. Just look in the laser drivers data sheet.
Mouting the laser and the bed:
Glue on your bed to the carriage (I used an old credit card sized piece of plastic), and glue the laser diode to the carriage.
Wiring everything up:
Wire everything up. I can't give instructions here, because everybody will have a different setup. I used an Arduino Nano running GBRL to drive everything. You can find wiring diagrams of GBRL online.
Configuring your firmware:
Use 53,33 steps/mm for X and Y and 100mm/s^2 for acceleration.
Configuring the software:
Download Inkscape and install this plugin: https://github.com/305engineering/Inkscape
The fun part:
Put on your safety googles and start working with your laser engraver.
One more time: You will be using a high powered laser. Be careful!