This DIY machine can engrave designs into wood, opaque plastic and leather.
Many people have a nice assortment of tools in their garage or Makerspace, but once you get into computer-controlled implements, both your capabilities and, normally, the price of them goes up a notch. Instructables user Macinblack20 decided to step into the world of laser engravers with his project, and according to his how-to article, it can be built for less than $200.
His machine uses an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) running grbl, an open source CNC controller, to actuate two stepper motors. They move a one Watt laser in the X and Y axes on a gantry made out of OpenBuilds components. These parts, as well as a few others, are listed in the “materials” portion of his Instructables page. OpenBuilds appears to be an interesting option for Makers trying to source mechanical parts that can be hard to find or expensive.
Admittedly, employing a laser meant for engraving can be hazardous to your eyes, so you’ll definitely need a pair of laser safety glasses meant for the type of beam you’re using. Although an interesting build, don’t attempt something like this unless you’re absolutely confident that you can be safe with it.
For a seemingly less hazardous build, you may want to check out the CNC EtchABot, an Etch A Sketch with knob controls as well as an automatic erasing mechanism.