Tag Archives: Laser Engraver

Reach is an all-in-one 3D printer, laser cutter, plotter and mill

… and it costs less than $300.

If you’re like most of us, chances are you’ve played around with a 3D printer at some point. But as you know all too well, the market only has a few affordable options for the everyday enthusiast: there are the sub-$500 plastic units with non-accesible parts, and then there are RepRaps with their fragile fames that require frequent adjustments. With hopes of solving all of these issues, Nate Rogers and his team have developed the Reacha high-quality, versatile machine with an all-alluminum frame, a large build area, as well as interchangeable modules for cutting, engraving, plotting and milling.


The Reach has everything you’d expect from a DIY 3D printer kit, such as auto-leveling, a 200mm x 200mm x 215mm volume, a heated bed and a geared extruder. It boasts V-Slot extrusions, Delrin V Wheels and a sturdy frame comprised of 1/8” laser-cut aluminum plates. With an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) and RAMPS 1.4 shield at its core, NEMA 17 stepper motors, a precision 8mm lead screw and GT2-20 pulleys, the Reach is capable of achieving 90mm/second print speeds with an accuracy of 50 micron layers. As you would expect, the Reach works with pretty much all 1.75mm filaments ranging from PLA and ABS, to Nylon and NinjaFlex, to faux metal.


As a Maker himself, however, Rogers knew that a 3D printer in today’s market was a dime a dozen. And so, he and his crew enhanced the Reach’s capabilities using detachable toolheads: a laser for cutting and engraving, a plotter and a light mill, which together create the ultimate all-in-one machine that will be a welcomed fixture on any workbench or at any Makerspace.

An upgrade kit will soon also be available for an extra $70, which consists of a full graphics LCD screen with SD card reader, an MK2 heated bed, a 100K thermistor and an improved power supply. The Reach supports most open source software, including Sketchup, Meshlab, Repetier, Cura and Inkscape, and is currently compatible with Windows and most Mac operating systems.


Sound like the $259 device for you? Head over to its Kickstarter campaign, where Rogers and his team have already doubled their $40,000 goal. Delivery is slated for summer 2016.

Build a $200 laser engraver with Arduino

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.

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.

BoXZY is a triple-threat tool that brings an entire Makerspace to your desk

BoXZY is an all-in-one CNC mill, laser engraver and 3D printer. 

We’ve seen plenty of 3D printers. We’ve seen a number of CNC mills. We’ve seen countless laser engravers. Yet, a combination of all three is a much rarer sight. Developed by two brothers from Pittsburgh, Joel and Justin Johnson, their recently-revealed machine is shaping up to be a multi-purpose masterpiece that will appeal to both beginners and experienced Makers alike. The BoXZY has been developed to serve as a complete desktop manufacturing space, rather than just a 3D printer with some additional options.


“We refer to it as a desktop manufacturing space. While the system is user friendly, its capabilities are much more precise than consumer models currently on the market. But the key differentiator for BoXZY is its interchangeability,” the duo explains.

In essence, BoXZY is a dual-extruder FDM 3D printer that can be quickly interchanged with a solid 1¼ horsepower Makita router, transforming the machine into a powerful CNC mill or a laser etcher in a moments notice. Using these heads, any Maker can craft a block of aluminum, hardwood or plastic into more complex designs. The whole operation is housed inside a solid aluminum body, and assembled with stainless steel hardware to ensure its stability and durability throughout all applications.


Moreover, the triple-threat tool is designed to be completely modular and hackable — something Makers of any level will appreciate. To power up and create its four micron resolution, BoXZY drives all three axes with industrial ballscrews, which are firmly situated in its sleek, black anodized aluminum body.

As a CNC mill, BoXZY can handle intricate shapes in all kinds of materials. To get started, users simply pull off the magnetically coupled 3D print platform to expose the pre-drilled fixture plate and attach their spoil board, fixture plate or clamps. Additionally, BoXZY boasts a 2000mW laser engraver that slices through balsa and other thin woods eagerly, and will put finishing touches on hardwood, leather and plastic with incredible precision.


And when it comes to 3D printing, BoXZY is billed as a top-tier device as it complements its mill and laser perfectly. Indeed, Makers can easily and accurately print complex shapes with fine detail using a wide-range of filaments like PLA, ABS, PVA, Ninja-flex, ABS, and even nylon. All together, anyone can now devise shapes that would have otherwise been impossible from other forms of manufacturing.

What’s more, Makers can CNC mill, laser engrave and 3D print without ever leaving the control software. That’s because BoXZY utilizes a simple, intuitive interface that caters to everyone from novices to pros. For milling, BoXZY uses AutoDesk’s 123D toolpath generation, and can execute G-code created by most commercial CAM programs.

Interested? Head over to its Kickstarter campaign, where the duo is currently seeking $50,000. If all goes well, units will begin shipping in November 2015.