We all know the possibilities of a laser cutter, and even more so when we like DIY. These types of laser cutters are quite expensive and sometimes only a professional can afford them and they will pay for themselves. However, there are ways to create your own laser cutter and this is what we are going to cover in this new guide. With it we can assemble our own and save a few euros, besides having fun and gain the satisfaction of having created ourselves.
The laser cutter can cut or carve marks on certain surfaces, which is quite practical for some projects. However, it is a machine that must be handled with care due to its dangerousness, so we must take the appropriate precautions to handle it, since we are using a tool that can generate problems if we do not respect the safety measures.
- 1 Ways to have our own laser cutting machine
Ways to have our own laser cutting machine
One way is to buy a slicer, but as I say, prices are often high and take away the possibility of creating it ourselves. Therefore, we’re going to focus on specifying the other shapes we have so that we can build our own laser cutting machine, although I’m already anticipating that it won’t be a simple DIY project if we choose to create it from scratch…
Projects to build a laser cutting machine from scratch
One of the options we have is to create our own laser cutter from scratch, but this is a rather complicated task and we may encounter some limitations or problems in making it work properly. Therefore, this option is suitable only for experts or more advanced makers. Within these possibilities we can create our own design or take ideas from some existing projects that have been tested and are known to work.
Project 1: CO2 laser cutter from scratch with Match3
InventorsFactory has been in charge of creating a fantastic project of an impressive homemade laser cutter. It is based on a quite sophisticated modular design and he has specified everything in detail in his blog. The laser engraver or cutter allows you to move its head quite accurately and has a lot of drawings and details for those who want to reproduce it. You can follow the steps here:
Project 2: laser cutting machine with Arduino
Another well known blog in the DIY world is Instructables and from there comes another project to build a laser cutter or recorder from scratch using the Arduino board and some very simple elements to achieve, such as the 1.8w laser module with a wavelength of 445nm. Specifically this is a project of a 16 year old Belgian boy known as MichielD99. He has taken about three months to design and build this machine, but with the templates and information provided you will be able to do it much faster.
By the way, there is a project at Kickstarter called ZelosLaser of a CNC laser cutter/engraver made with free hardware similar to this one that may also interest you.
Using DIY kits to mount a laser cutter
The other option is best for most users and consists of using kits that already come prepared to make everything work if the assembly is adequate. We will only have to limit ourselves in following the assembly steps and we will have a cutter or laser recorder ready to use. They are available from 95 euros to a little over 300 euros, so they are quite affordable compared to a professional laser cutter.
If you want to know which are the best kits of cutters or laser engravers, here is a list with our selection:
This is one of the best selling laser engraving or cutting machines. It has a 1500mW laser power, Bluetooth, USB connection, multi-language support, and is capable of engraving on different materials such as leather, bamboo, wood, plastic, cardboard, integrated circuit cards, etc. It also has a 6000mAh Li-Ion battery that gives it a fairly good autonomy.
It offers compatibility with different operating systems, such as Windows, Android, iOS, etc. Its assembly is fast and does not require much knowledge. Once mounted it weighs almost two kilos and has a size of about 20x29x20 cm.
This is a 40w power C02 laser engraving machine. It is one of the most expensive, but also offers a higher power. It can engrave stamps, advertising, art items, gifts, clothing, leather, plastic toys, upholstery, computer embroidery, screen printing of cardboard and paper packaging, shoes, wooden furniture, crafts, and even other industrial uses.
It connects to the PC via a USB port and supports TIF, BMP, JPG, WMF, EMF, and PLT formats. As for the assembly, it is not very complex and once mounted it has compact dmensions. The duration is estimated at about 1000-1300 hours that can work without failure.
It is another machine with the same power as the previous one, also the rest of the characteristics are quite similar. That is, it is connected via USB and has a 40w CO2 type laser to engrave on acrylic, wood, leather, plastics, bamboo, etc. The use is professional, as the previous recorder, but also its price is high as in the previous case.
It is easy to assemble and use, and it includes CorelDraw software with NewlySeal and NewlyDraw features for use in ‘Strong’ and ‘Milling’ objects.
It is similar to the Metek, but it is the cheapest laser engraver/cutter you can find. It’s compatible with WIndows, iOS and Android and has apps to manage it. It has multi-language support and works via Bluetooth connection to connect from your mobile or PC. It offers carving possibilities on wood, plastic, bamboo, rubber, leather, paper and other similar materials, but it cannot carve on glass or metal.
As for its 6000mAh Li-Ion battery it gives it a good autonomy and it also has a power supply like the Metek for when it is not enough. Its dimensions are somewhat more compact than the Metek, as it measures 16x15x20cm once it is mounted.
This is another very interesting and minimalist laser cutter/recorder kit. Its price is a bit high for what it looks like, but it allows you an easy installation and operation with CNC control and using the software provided by the manufacturer. The engraving speed and power is also adjustable, so you can choose between a range of powers 500-2500mW.
That raw power gives you possibilities of engraving and also of cutting. It supports JPG, PNG, DXF formats and more, as well as support for makers using MacOS, Linux and Windows.
Similar to the previous kit, although here we have a 3-axis control GRBL laser engraver that can engrave on wood, different types of plastic, acrylic, etc. It also allows milling and cutting with an ER11/strong nozzle. Its dimensions are somewhat larger than the previous ones, but it offers a working support and a somewhat more robust structure.
Like the previous one, which is also similar in price, it allows the laser power to be modulated from 500 to 5500mW. But in this case, it is compatible with Windows, although the control system is of ‘open code’, something that some makers will like.
I hope I helped you get a laser cutter/recorder at home soon…