How to Build a Homemade CNC Laser Engraver

A DIY project to help with your DIY projects? This edition of Gadget Freak is going meta with a CNC laser engraver made by Amy Kippen and her team of fellow students at Colorado State University.

The CNC laser engraver consists of a user-controlled laser mounted to the Y axis and an engraving plate mounted to the X axis. Motion of the laser and engraving plate are controlled using G-code, which allows the laser to engrave two dimensional designs or images into wood.


A user can input G-code through an SD card on the back of the LCD display. Using the push-button/dial to control the LCD screen, the user selects the correct G-code. The LCD also provides users with visualization and control over the laser casing temperature via alteration of fan speeds. The X and Y axes are each controlled by a stepper motor, and proximity switches are used to limit the motion of each axis past structure walls.

The engraver is also equipped with a safety feature that turns off the laser when the door is open and a program is running. A green LED is lit while the engraver is running. If the door is opened a limit switch inside the door is disengaged and a signal is sent to turn off the green LED and turn on the safety feature, which includes a red LED and an alert buzzer. Disengaging the limit switch also triggers a relay that turns off the laser. Once the door is closed the laser resumes engraving.

Click the image below for a slideshow of the build instructions.

And click here to download the full build instructions including schematics, diagrams, and code.

Do you have a cool, original, homemade gadget you'd like to share with the world? Give us the details at, and you may receive $500 and automatic entry into our $6000 Gadget Freak of the Year contest!

Parts List      
Amount Part Description Allied Part # Notes
1 Arduino Mega    
1 voltage regulator 70099596 LM317T Adjustable 2.2-3.7 Voltage Regulator
1 glass lens   405-G-2 Glass Lens for Aixiz Laser Module 405nm
1 diode   Cassio- 2W 445nm M140 Blue Diode
1 mechanical endstop   Signwise 3 pack endstop
2 stepper motor   ZJchao 57-ox-in 1Nm Nema 17 Stepper Motor 1.3A 40mm
1 power supply   NEWSTYLE 12V 30A DC Universal Power Supply 360W
1 controller kit   OSOYOO Printer kit controller RAMPS 1.4
Mega 2560 R3
Stepper Motor Driver
LCD 1286 Graphic display
8 linear bearing   Sprite Science 12LM8U Linear bearings
4 linear rods   Linear motion 8mm shaft 406mm length chrome plated case hardened
1 cooling fan   Uxcell 92 x 25mm DC 12V
2 terminal
65.01 CFM
2 belt and pulley   Aluminum GT2 16T Pulley and 2M Belt
2 PIC16F88 70045634 18-Pin PDIP, SOIC
1 transparent wall   250nm to 520 nm laser shielding - 12” X 12”
1 alert buzzer   12mm Dia. DC 5V 2 Terminals Electronic Continuous Sound Buzzer
1 3D-printed parts 70369255 3mm ABS filament
1 laser   2W 445nm M140 Blue Diode in Copper Module W/Leads & Three Element Glass Lens
1 voltage and current regulator display   DC-DC Voltage Buck Converter Volt Regulator Display
1 thermocouople   Aluminum mount and heat sink for 12mm modules
1 13 ft of 1 x 1-inch alumium tube    
1 2 ft  2 x 2-inch aluminum angle    
100 nuts   Hex machine screw nut, 8-32
100 bolts   Truss combo head machine screw, 8-32 x 1-½”
4 laser glasses   HDE laser eye protection safety glasses for green and blue lasers

Do you have a cool, original, homemade gadget collecting dust in your garage? Give us the details at, and you may receive $500 and automatic entry into our $6000 Gadget Freak of the Year contest!

[All images courtesy Amy Kippen]

ESC Minn logoEmbedded Hardware at Work. Get into the weeds on FPGA dev, modularization with system-on-modules & COTS, test bench technique, Verilog for hardware design & simulation, Arduino for pros, plus common design mistakes to avoid and more in the Embedded Hardware Design & Verification track at the Embedded Systems Conference. Sept. 21-22, 2016 in Minneapolis. Register here for the event, hosted by Design News’ parent company UBM.

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