Maker 3D prints a laser engraving machine

Electrical engineering student Tyler Alford has successfully 3D-printed a laser engraving machine. No stranger to printing and constructing 3D printing devices like the ATmega1284P based RepRapPro Huxley, curiosity eventually led the young Maker to think outside the box.

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“It started out just being bored on summer break from university. I had recently finished a project that required custom PCBs and was interested in ways to make my own,” Alford tells 3DPrint.com

Instead of simply 3D printing yet another printer, Alford elected to set his sights a little higher — this time on a fully-functioning laser engraver. The frame was devised using a modified Rostock Mini Pro. While he had originally began his project with ABS, Alford reveals that he found that it “warped too much.” Subsequently, he later turned to MatterHackers’ PLA Pro material, which was a much better fit for the job. When all was said and done, the entire frame took just six hours to complete.

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In an effort to keep his build as easy and cost-effective as possible, he relied upon two axes — one responsible for holding the laser, the other holding the plate. Powered by an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), Alford reveals that he was able to acquire two EasyDriver stepper motors and a laser housing on eBay for less than $10.

Since the laser, which he had pulled out of an old DVD drive, drew more power than the ATmega328 based ‘duino could supply, the Maker needed to put it on an LM317 based isolated circuit.

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“In the end the entire project only ended up costing me about $15 as I already had the Arduino and DVD drives, and I pulled the laser diode from one of the DVD drives,” Alford concluded.

Want to delve deeper into the build? The Maker has made his project available on Thingiverse.

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