Nov.4, 2013

Here's the situation: desktop 3D printers has been evolving so fast over the past few years, and you probably have already collected quite a few old models in your workshop. What to do with them? Upgrade? Sell them? Throw them away? I'm sure many of you have thought of it.

Here, a company called J Tech Photonics Lab, has a better idea. They turned their old Makerbot thing-o-matic 3D printer into a low power laser cutter/engraver. It cuts plastic, hobby balsa wood, paper, foam board, vinyl, and engraves many more materials, and they call it 'Laser-Bot'.

The hardware set up is simple. They mount the 455nm component laser diode 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. After assembly, it is very easy to get everything going.

You can use a drawing program to output G Code files based on path objects. J Tech recommends Inkscape, an open source free program and a "LaserEngraver" plugin to do the job. After you load the G Code file into Replicator G, you can simply press the "build" button and the process should start.

Check out a video of it cutting 1/32" balsa wood with the 445nm laser below.

The laser upgrade kit is priced at $224.99. It can also work on other printers such as Makerbot Replicator 2/2X, Felix Printers and some RepRap printers. You can find the printable parts on Thingiverse.

The laser used in this project is very powerful so be sure to use proper safety eyewear to prevent injury to eyes.

Posted in 3D Printer Accessories



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max wrote at 3/22/2016 6:06:53 PM:

Hello Henrique, no you can't.

Henrique L. R. wrote at 1/11/2016 1:34:03 PM:

Hi, how can I do to cut aluminum plates ap to 3mm or 4mm ? Can I use the same laser diode? If not, what do you would recomend? I am buying a new delta 3D printer, could you inform if I can have both functions together in the same printer and no problem if I cut metal one time or print ABS plastic pieces another time?

Ben wrote at 11/5/2013 7:31:24 PM:

I've actually been waiting for these to appear. Next I expect precision soldering solutions (a digital video magnifier and manual controller) for diy PCB repairs. :) After that I hope that they could preform chip placement for low volume custom boards. Not that I can do that myself but I would love to see some people enabled.

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