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Can you convert a 3D printer to a laser engraver?

If so is there a specific thing I have to buy?

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    $\begingroup$ Are you intending to burn marks into a thing, or cut into a thing? The first is an engraver, the latter is a laser cutter. $\endgroup$
    – Criggie
    Oct 28, 2021 at 19:36
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    $\begingroup$ Just remember eye safety - without an opaque enclosure the risk is very real. Laser goggles meant for CO2 lasers will not work for diode lasers, and the latter are harder to manufacture correctly because the wavelengths are closer to visible band. $\endgroup$
    – jpa
    Oct 29, 2021 at 6:44
  • $\begingroup$ You can get some ideas looking at how it is done on the Snapmaker machines. Snapmaker printers have three functions: 3Dprint, CNC and laser. They use a system in which different heads are exchanged in the same support on the X-axis. $\endgroup$
    – joaquin
    Oct 30, 2021 at 22:31

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Yes, one can convert a 3D printer into a Laser Engraver, and it isn't even all that problematic.

  • You'd need to acquire a laser diode. These are usually not available with a lot of power - certainly not the hundreds of Watts that come from a proper CO2 laser - but depending on your printer, it might be pretty much a bolt-on addon.
    • The conversion isn't too invasive, and takes much less time than building a printer from a set. All3D converted an Ender-3 to have a laser within less than an hour. In their step-by-step guide, they wired it into the 5V part cooling fan port of their printer. Whatever laser diode you choose, the setup will be similar, as long as your diode works with 5 Volt power.
  • Once installed on the physical side, you will need to prepare your prints with a different "Slicer" that uses the commands for the fan speed as powers for the laser:
    • M106 S sets the power to S, where S is a number from 0 to 255 ; Without an S value, it turns on to the last setting (if turned off via M107)
    • M107 turns off the laser.

One such slicer would be Creality Workshop, which would work with any Marlin-run printer, as long as you use the fan as the diode's power source.

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Probably a laser... and a mount for the laser. Then connect its power supply to be switched by the extruder supply/signal. Also, there would be no need for any Z-axis movement, beyond setting the correct height of the laser device.

However, unless you are handy with DIY, messing about with microcontrollers and electronics, modifying firmware and have experience in making your own 3D printer, then it is probably easier to just buy a ready built engraver.


That said, and after reading Trish's (more technically detailed and accurate) answer, it probably isn't all that daunting to accomplish. In addition, if you already have a printer, then a modification would be cheaper than buying a whole new unit.

Here is a handy video tutorial, which shows how easy it, in fact, is: 3D printer to laser engraver for under $60

This unit was tested on the Creality Ender 5, but the plug should work for any Creality printer like the Ender 3 and CR-10

This modification also uses the part cooling fan to control the laser and there is no need to remove the extruder - the laser attaches itself by the use of magnets to the extruder. So you can have a dual-purpose printer without that much fuss at all.

The website used to generate the G-code is http://nebarnix.com/img2gco/, and it takes a simple image file as input. The settings recommended by the video are as follows:

Generating the G-code for the laser

Note: As pointed out in the video, the minimum power should not be zero as this turns off the laser, thereby incurring a delay upon restart. Setting the power to a sufficiently low level - so as not to burn - is preferable, i.e. 10.

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    $\begingroup$ I own the creality engraver module, but haven't fitted it yet. Looks pretty straight-forward. $\endgroup$
    – Criggie
    Oct 28, 2021 at 19:37
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    $\begingroup$ Indeed, remarkably so - I hadn't realised. So much so, In fact, that I am quite tempted myself. $\endgroup$
    – Greenonline
    Oct 28, 2021 at 19:44

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