Photon Printer is a $20 micro laser engraver

The Photon Printer is a 3D-printable laser engraver made from recycled DVD drives.

It seems like nowadays Makers can transform any form of electronic waste into a fully-functional device. Case in point: this pocket laser engraver comprised of recycled DVD drives.


In a project he calls the Photon Printer, Maker Stephen Brockett has successfully developed a micro laser engraver made from a pair of spare DVD burners, some stepper drivers and an Arduino, of course. Inspired by a previous Instructables project he happened to stumble upon, the idea was originally meant to be a simple weekend activity, but didn’t take long to evolve into a much more elaborate endeavor.

Brockett points out that the laser diode needs to be from a DVD drive capable of writing to discs, because the laser from a read-only drive isn’t powerful enough to engrave. In his case, the Maker used a set of LightScribe drives from an old HP GSA-H60L that he had lying around, and the Photon Printer’s X and Y mounts have been designed to fit these drives.

“The newer the drive, the more powerful the diode will be. After about 2009, they changed the diode package making it harder to use, so aim for something before that,” he advises.


Powered by an Arduino Nano (ATmega328), the engraver features laser housing with a glass lens and a pair of EasyDrivers that rely upon the regulation of a 5V USB supply. Aside from that, Brockett decided to 3D print a few of his parts including the enclosure with built-in roller door access, as it enabled him to customize the housing to best suit the oddly-shaped DVD components. Since the parts had one large flat surface, 3D printing was super easy.

To modify the DVD axes, Brockett suggests unscrewing the hub ends to expose the circuit board, and then from there, soldering wires to the two terminals on the far right, as they connect to the end stop micro switch. Afterward, reassemble and then solder four wires to the stepper motor.


In terms of software, the Maker employed GRBL — an open source, high-performance CNC milling controller written in optimized C that will run on an Arduino — and generated a Gcode for the engraver. As a whole, the Photon Printer itself works quite well, especially given the minimal parts and cost associated with the project. What’s more, the device boasts various adjustment options and a spring-ensioned Z axis to reduce vibration.

Intrigued? You can head over to Brockett’s Thingiverse page here, or watch it in action below.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s