En-route to building a CNC plasma cutter, I decided to build a small laser cutter to test out the GRBL motor control platform and cut my teeth in CNC. The frame is made from 3” aluminum angle with 8 mm rods for the linear motion blocks to slide on. There are currently only X and Y axes of motion that have 11” and 10.5” of travel, respectively, and are driven by NEMA 17, 57oz-in stepper motors.
The laser diode is a 2.5W, 445nm module with a 12VDC input. In order to control the laser with the Arduino/GRBL setup, I used the spindle enable pin (0-5V PWM output) and a 5V relay to turn the laser on and off during engraving cycles.
Improvements to be made are as follows:
- Voltage control circuit to take the 0-5V PWM signal and transform it to 0-12V signal for the laser
- Ventilation system
- Z-axis for auto-focusing the laser for different material thicknesses
- Wire guide system for laser power leads