Category Archives: Laser Cutter

Bob builds a laser cutter while you watch.

New Tools Update #1

EMS received a generous donation at the end of 2014. The board decided we should spend that money on some new tools for our members. After a discussion in the EMS Discuss mailing list, we opted to spend some money on two things.

  1. CNC milling machine
  2. Laser cutter

Those things seemed pretty high up on the list for many members, and as it happens some members were already working on these things. This decision will allow us to fund the projects and hopefully expedite them.

CNC Milling Machine

Several members have been working hard to repair a recently-donated CNC milling machine. You may have seen it on the large desk inside EMS. The most recent problem has been with the motor driver circuit boards. The driver chips keep burning out. They’ve already been replaced once, but the problem has repeated itself. The team has decided to purchase new controller boards instead of trying to continue debugging the old ones. We are going to use EMS funds to help the team purchase the parts they need to get the machine up and running. We’ll also spend a few hundred dollars on proper tooling for the machine when it’s ready to go. This way we’ll have everything we need to make use of the machine.

Laser Cutter

Bob has been building his 40 Watt laser cutter for over two years now. The current status is that it’s almost ready for use by other members. He’s still working on some of the software but he’s got a plan formulated for that. Also, you may have noticed a hole cut in the rear wall of the EMS shop over the last week or so. This hole was approved by the landlord and installed to provide adequate ventilation for the laser cutter once it’s up and running. An exhaust fan was already installed as well. Bob also needs to build a custom table to hold the laser cutter up at an appropriate height, while also leaving storage space for cutting materials. He’s going to be a bit busy working on his Eugene Maker Faire project in the coming months though, so if anyone would like to lend a hand with this project please reach out on the Discuss list.

Bob’s laser cutter project


I haven’t posted here about the laser cutter in quite a while.

It’s coming along. I’m nearly done with the mechanical assembly and ready to start on wiring and electronics.  The gantry, the movable beam in the center of the picture, is installed.  The laser carriage, which rides on the gantry, is also installed.  The table has been installed for a while, though I’m going to replace the plastic eggcrate table surface with an aluminum eggcrate.
Continue reading Bob’s laser cutter project

Bob thinks he can make a laser cutter.

Labor Day traditionally denotes the end of summer. Kids head back to school, clothing stores start displaying long sleeves and jackets, and makers start their big winter projects.

This winter, I have the audacity to presume that I can build a CNC laser cutter.

I will be basing my design on the 2.x Laser. I will be following the 2.x plan very closely for the mechanical design, but will deviate in the electronics and software.

There is no kit for the 2.x laser cutter, so my first tasks have been to find sources for the roughly 180 components needed and place orders with the respective vendors.

I actually started ordering parts on August 3rd, and I have received a few parts. And there are many more coming.

So while I wait, here are some pictures of the parts that are already here.


Here are the stepper motors. They are NEMA 17 with double ended shafts. Don’t they look good in their black paint? They came from Automation Technology. Actually, I think they might be the wrong parts — I need motors with 5mm shafts, and these have ¼ inch shafts. If the very first parts are wrong, what are the odds that I’ll actually finish this project? (-:


And here are some couplers, made to order by dumpsterCNC in Delrin™. They couple ¼ inch shafts to 5mm motor shafts. (Too bad I don’t have 5mm motor shafts.)


Fellow laser builder Radishworks put together a bag of small parts. He had to buy all these in quantity 50 or more, so he had lots of extras, which he resold. I got one.


Makerslide. I got two 1200mm lengths (47 inches). It is an ordinary 20x40mm aluminum extrusion, except it has V shaped ridges on two of the corners. (I might have overdone the artistic depth of field thing on this photo. Must use f-stops only for good.)IMG_9229


These are dual-bearing V wheels. The wheels ride on the ridges on the Makerslide. They are Delrin™. The bearings fit inside. The washers are sandwiched between the bearings. They keep the bearings separated and add rigidity, I think.


Those little nut things are eccentric spacers. The inner hole is off center. Put the nut’s cylindrical flange into a hole, put a shaft through the center hole, and then rotate the nut to adjust the shaft’s position. These will be used to make the V wheels fit snugly against the Makerslide. The Makerslide, V wheels, and eccentrics all came from Inventables.


VXB sent me some bearings. They came in patriotic packaging. They are also quite overpackaged: bearing in bag in box in bag with other bearings in envelope. It’s the American Way.


I also got a whole pile of random fasteners and hardware from McMaster Carr. The big metal flange in the center will attach the vent hose to the cabinet. I got the oversize drawings printed at FedEx Office.

Lots more parts are coming. I have confirmed shipping on aluminum extrusion, more fasteners, more V wheels, some drive belts and pulleys, and the optics (mirrors, lens, and bracketry). I have no firm delivery date on cable carriers, microcontrollers, stepper drivers, or a Raspberry Pi.

Finally, here’s Riley, the project manager. He disavows any knowledge of how that table leg got chewed. (Truthfully. He did it in 2009, and has completely forgotten about it.)


More later…