How to Turn Your 3D Printer Into a Laser Engraver

While I took some time off for Christmas, I received a laser engraver attachment for an Ender 3. It’s a pretty good model, and engraves wood, plastic, and cardboard. I set it up over the last few weeks, and now it’s ready!

Supplies

Supplies
  1. Laser engraver – on Amazon –
  2. Wood
  3. 3D Printer – Probably an Ender 3, Ender 3 Pro, or Ender 3 V2 would work best. I haven’t tested any other 3D printers, so I don’t know how others would work.
  4. Allen Wrench – probably comes with your printer
  5. Twisty ties
  6. Engraving material, like wood
  7. Masking tape
  8. Mounting Putty – optional, but useful

Step 1: Disassembly

Grab your allen wrench and remove the screws on the cover pictured. Slowly remove the cover and lay it to the side. If there’s a fan cable attached, follow it to the motherboard and gently remove it. That’s where the laser engraver will get connected.

Step 2: Wiring

Wiring

Wiring

Wiring

Now, pick up the engraver. Hook the red and black cable in to the port where we removed the fan cable from last step, also illustrated in the pictures.

Follow the Bowden tube and the other cables with the engraver wire all the way up to the print head. Affix the engraver with the magnets to the front of the print head and make sure it’s straight. Wrap twisty ties around the Bowden tube, the other wires, and the laser engraver cable to secure it in place.

Step 3: Focusing the Laser and Setup

I couldn’t take any pictures of this process, since it involves a live laser, which is very bad for a camera lens…

Here’s how to focus the laser in setup – you won’t need to do this much in the future.

  1. Put the engraving material on the bottom left corner and secure it with binder clips or masking tape, preferably the latter.
  2. Put on the green safety glasses that were included with the engraver.
  3. Power on the printer.
  4. As fast as you can, set the fan speed to 255.
  5. Now, very carefully, twist the knob around the laser head until it focuses into a little blue dot. Turn the fan speed off as fast as you can afterwards.

Here is the guide for preparing the printer whenever you start any project that involves a live laser.

  1. Put the engraving material on the bottom left corner and secure it with binder clips or masking tape, preferably the latter.
  2. Put on the green safety glasses that were included with the engraver.
  3. Power on the printer.
  4. Auto home the print head.
  5. Raise your print head Z axis to 20mm.
  6. Disable steppers and manually home the laser head, not the print nozzle to the bottom left of the engraving material. Try to get it as close as possible.
  7. Start the engraving file, detailed next.

Step 4: Software and Engraving

Software and Engraving

Software and Engraving

Download Creality Workshop – “CW” – from here – I promise it’s legit. Download a JPEG image of your choosing that has clear outlines – like a flower. Open CW up and select Import. Import your downloaded JPEG, like in the picture.

Select Laser and Outline at the top. Resize it into the size of your engraving material, minus about 3 mm. You can refer to the pictures for what to click on/edit to resize easily. Click on “settings name” and use these settings:

  • Laser On Cmd – M106 S255
  • Laser Off Cmd – M107
  • CNC On Cmd – M106 S255
  • CNC Off Cmd – M107
  • CNC Travel Z – 50-80 – higher is more focused and lines are thinner. If you want thick lines, smaller numbers are better
  • CNC Print Z – Same as before – it’s best not to be different
  • Travel Speed – 30-60 – This one’s the speed of the laser when it’s not engraving
  • Laser/CNC speed – 1-3 – very important – too fast makes it not engrave, too slow makes the lines burnt

These are just the settings that worked for me, after about 6 hours of trial and error.

Click Export GCODE and move the file to a MicroSD card. Eject it and stick it into the 3D Printer. Make sure that you have followed all the steps for prep in the previous step first. Select the file, and start the engraving!

Step 5: Check Engraving

Check Engraving

Now that your engraved art should be done, examine it. Are the lines accurate and thin enough? Did the laser only engrave, not cut? If so, you’re good! You’ve officially made a laser engraver out of a 3D Printer!

Thanks for reading, until next Instructable, Happy Hacking and Merry Making from g3holliday

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