3D printers have become almost synonymous with the Maker Movement, and with some justification as they’re capable of spitting out nearly any shape imaginable. On the other hand, you’ll soon find that 3D printers aren’t the perfect tool for everything, though Gosse Adema’s laser cutter mod perhaps takes things another step closer to that point!
His project takes a popular Anet A8 printer — which he had already improved upon in this write-up, even adapting it for CNC router use — and subs in a laser where the extruder would normally go. This work is facilitated by 3D-printable mounting plates, and some trickery involving an opto-isolator in order to use the normal fan output as a laser PWM signal.
Appropriate control code to allow it to act as cutter needs to also be generated, and the laser has to be focused by moving it the correct distance from the bed. Once the details are worked out, the resulting build that can cut materials in the 3–5mm range, and can be used with cardboard, fabric and wood.
As noted, a laser like this means the possibility of hazardous (or general) fumes, fire, and of course optical eye damage, so be sure you’re cutting the appropriate materials, and taking the proper safety precautions! Check out the video below where the rig is employed to cut out 1cm x 1cm squares.