Desktop laser engravers and cutters for the home
Have you ever thought about the fact that you can engrave yourself on a leather purse or smartphone case, put a photo on a wooden surface? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to cut parts from various materials with great precision to create beautiful crafts or robot cases? But all this can be done with the help of compact desktop laser engravers and cutters. Let’s look at a few of these devices.
What can a laser engraver/cutter be used for?
With the help of an engraver, you can create commemorative inscriptions and drawings on various objects. The engraver can accurately draw on materials such as paper, cardboard, leather, fabric, felt, wood, plywood, hardboard, plastic and acrylic. It is also possible to engrave on aluminum and glass and make printed circuit boards using some tricks. However, you need to remember that you will not be able to engrave on metal and ceramic products.
The cutter will allow you to cut out the necessary contours from paper, cardboard, leather, fabric, felt, wood, plywood, hardboard, plastic and acrylic with great accuracy. When working with durable materials such as plywood, the cutter will replace your jigsaw, and when working with the rest of the listed materials, scissors. However, you need to remember that you will not be able to cut transparent and metal objects.
When working with a laser cutter / engraver, do not forget that the laser is not a toy. During operation, it is imperative to protect your eyes with the help of special glasses, which sometimes come with the device, and sometimes they need to be purchased separately.
Endurance DIY is a small desktop laser engraver / cutter from the Russian-American company Endurance with a size of only 31×25 cm and a working area of 210×297 mm.
The device uses L-Cheapo’s own lasers, which, by the way, have universal fasteners that allow you to mount the laser on many 3D printers and CNC devices. The working wavelength of the laser is 445 nm, the engraving accuracy (grain) is 0.1 mm, and the cooling is air. The engraving speed, as well as the speed and depth of cut, depends on the laser power, which can be three options:
|Maximum engraving speed||20 mm/sec||40 mm/sec||50 mm/s|
|Maximum cutting speed for 1mm thick cardboard||3 mm/sec||5 mm/sec||6 mm/sec|
|Maximum cutting depth of plywood specimen||3 mm||5-6 mm||7-8 mm|
|Maximum cutting depth of acrylic sample||3 mm||4-5 mm||5-8 mm|
When purchasing this desktop laser engraver/cutter, you can choose one of the listed laser powers. The price will depend on this: a device with a 2.1 W laser will cost you 29.900 rubles, with a 3.5 W laser – for 37,400 rubles and with a 5.6 W laser – 49,400 rubles. Comes with engraver/cutter and power adapter. Please note that goggles are not included.
To control the Endurance DIY laser engraver/cutter, you can always download the full software package on the manufacturer’s website.
This laser engraver/cutter is manufactured by the Chinese company Makeblock. It uses an Arduino-compatible microcontroller. By the way, in addition to this, the company produces Arduino-compatible robot constructors, which I wrote about earlier in the article “Programmable Robot Constructors”.
This unit comes with a 1.6W 445nm laser. The working area here reaches 383×367 mm. Engraving accuracy is the same as the previous device – 0.1 mm. The maximum speed of the laser head is 200 mm/s.
The cost of such an engraver/cutter is about $350, excluding shipping and tax. You can order it on the manufacturer’s website here. Complete with the device and power adapter you will receive goggles and 4 sheets of colored paper.
If you need such an engraver / cutter, but with a more powerful laser, you can purchase a ready-made solution from Endurance, which was described above. The cost of a LaserBot with an L-Cheapo laser with a power of 2.1 W will cost 39,900 rubles, a power of 3.5 W – 44,900 rubles, a power of 5.6 W – 56,900 rubles. Details of this kit are here.
The next device allows you to do much more than just engrave, because it is a robotic arm, to which, in addition to a laser, you can attach a 3D printing head, a claw, a pencil or brush, a suction cup and much more. But cutting materials, unfortunately, will not work due to the low power of the laser that comes with the robotic arm – only 0.5 W. However, if you have a strong desire, you can attach a higher power third-party laser here.
To date, the robotic arm is sold in two versions: Dobot Magician and Dobot M1. The Dobot M1 is a very accurate (0.02mm) industrial version, but it’s very expensive ($2999) and so I won’t cover it here. Dobot Magician is a desktop robotic arm that is suitable for home, educational institutions, and small industries. The cost of the complete set, which includes the Dobot Magician with laser and goggles, is $1,159, excluding shipping. In addition to the laser, this includes a 3D printing kit, a claw, a joystick, a suction cup, a drawing kit, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi modules.
You can order Dobot Magician and see all the technical specifications on the manufacturer’s website here.
This device is also multifunctional: in addition to engraving, it can carry out 3D printing and woodcarving. For each of these three processes, Snapmaker has a separate head. Unfortunately, you will not be able to cut materials, because. the laser included is weak, only 0.5 watts.
The 3D printing and laser engraving kit costs $369, not including shipping. A set with all three heads will cost $439. Goggles are included. To order Snapmaker or learn more, visit the project page on Kickstarter.
Wanhao DuPlicator i3 + Endurance L-Cheapo
This kit is also offered by Endurance. Here, the Wanhao DuPlicator i3 3D printer is used as a platform, on which the L-Cheapo laser will be installed. Thanks to this, you can not only engrave and cut, but also use the 3D printer for its intended purpose.
Engraving machines Neje
These kids only know how to engrave, because there is a low laser power. But it is impossible to bypass them, because the price for these machines on the Internet starts at about 3,500 rubles. The small Neje engraving machine is perfect for a first introduction to laser engraving technology at home. In the first picture below, the NEJE DK-5 Pro machine (smaller size), and in the second picture, the DK-8-KZ machine (neater view).
The program for these engravers is simple and free. It can only work with 512×512 pixel bitmaps in JPG, BMP and PNG formats.
The engraver comes with goggles, 2 USB cables (one for power, the other for data transfer), a hex wrench, a microSD memory card (contains driver, software, etc.) and a quick start guide. The package contents may vary depending on the store where you buy the engraver.
I hope this article will help you make the right choice when buying an engraver/cutter. If you know of any other interesting devices for engraving and cutting, write about it in the comments.