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Published on: October 4, 2013 / Comments: None

Converting your 3D Printer into a lightweight laser engraver

Following the same idea as this previous post, it I stumbled on this company that has the same concept for turning your 3D Printer into a low power laser cutter/engraver.  They appear to actually have a kit ready to go now which seems to focus primarily on the old Makerbot thing-o-matic, but I’m sure can be adapted to other designs.

The laser is mounted in front of the plastic extruder, and the 2 watt laser driver board is tied to the motor on/off signal from the existing electronics.  From there a little special G code is required to get it going .

Check out a video of it cutting 1/32″ wood with a 445nm Blu Ray laser after the break.


Published on: October 2, 2013 / Comments: None

DIY Skee Ball Machine

With the help of  “Because We Can”, creator fungus amungus made his own Skee Ball Machine. The game was built from 3/4″ plywood cut to shape on a ShopBot. Everything appears to fit together like a puzzle with a few screws to secure the parts.

The brains of the game is hosted on an Arduino UNO and it uses 5cm Optical Distance Sensors to detect when the balls go through the holes.  The traditional rules were tweaked a little to include among other things the ability to score bonus points for combos.

Check out the video and links above for more details.


Published on: September 4, 2013 / Comments: 1

A Laser attachment for your 3D Printer

I’m sure everyone has thought of it, but is anyone actually doing it ?  It’s a work in progress, but up on thingiverse is a universal mount, some schematics, and Arduino code for adding a laser to your 3D Printer.  Why not?  You’ve already got an XYZ platform… The build so far is made to be minimally intrusive to modifying your printer.  e.g. you don’t have to modify your printer’s firmware.

Before you go rushing off and strap a laser to your extruder, note that even very low power lasers are real dangerous.  Don’t fool around with safety.

With that being said, the build works like this. The laser controller is an arduino setup to control a low power laser (sorry no giant 40w laser tubes guys!).  We’re looking at 1W-5W.  This should be enough to do some small engraving.   A small DC motor is attached with a universal bracket and attached to the extruder.   It’s tied to the extruder so when the stepper motor turns, the dc motor turns.   The motor is read via the analog port on the Arduino.   Code-wise, if the voltage exceeds the threshold voltage the laser will fire.

Right now it’s just breadboarded and not working but I’m interested to see how this plays out.

Here’s a link to the build on thingiverse.

Published on: August 21, 2013 / Comments: None

Learn a little more about Baltic Birch

You’ve learned how to use your local hackerspaces’ laser cutter and cutting acrylic like crazy but you want to start getting into some wood projects.  Well one favorite among the DIY community is using Baltic Birch.  It’s a plywood, so it’s strong but also available in real thin increments.

Dan was nice enough to create a post describing some of the details of Baltic Birch.  Apparently you can tell the number of ply’s by the thickness, also what kind of grading scale is “CP” ?  If you’re trying to buy wood off the internet for your laser cut box you may want to stick to grade “B” because seeing those patches will look ugly when stained.  Or you may be OK with a lower grade wood when building a structural piece.

Whatever your reason, you should read the post if you intend to work with this medium.

Published on: August 19, 2013 / Comments: 2

Making laser cut boxes

This topic recently came up during a conversation with a friend about making laser cut boxes.  If you’ve ever bought a kit that has some laser cut wood or acrylic, or looked at a maker bot or something you’ve seen it.  Those cool ways that the ends join together (with and without screws), the snap in tabs etc.

So how do you design something like that for yourself ?  Well we’ve got a few resources for you.

MakerCase – An online site that allows you to plug in your own dimensions and tab type and it will generate a file you can laser cut to make the box (or edit in another editor)

BoxMaker – Like MakerCase, a few less options in some areas, and some finer settings in other areas.

Tabbed Box Maker – A plugin for InkScape (This is real cool as InkScape is Open Source and you could easily make modifications from within the application)

I also remembered this cool post on Make about different types of joinery that you can laser cut (or CNC).  This goes beyond boxes, we’re talking all types of joints, even flexible ones!  Since this post has been around awhile there’s also more gold hiding in the comments like bookmark lists to books.