I would love to start a small engraving business without having to purchase expensive hardware.

Using scrap parts at home, or parts from broken CD players, are there any ways to make a laser engraver at home? My cousin managed to make one of his own from scraps.

  • $\begingroup$ How cheap, what area, engraving what material? $\endgroup$
    – Davo
    Aug 14 '18 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ There are ways to do one or several at home (I made one), try to look for laser forums. $\endgroup$ Aug 15 '18 at 0:37
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know anything about laser engravers, but you might find these links useful: Make your own 3D printer for under \$60 using Components with Instructables Design and Instructables – EWaste 60$ 3DPrinter by mikelllc in 3D-Printing $\endgroup$
    – Greenonline
    Aug 15 '18 at 22:15
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This question is very opinion based, it's also asking for 'competent person' advice in terms of safety. If you want safe, pay someone who has insurance. Thinking a bit more about this question (and adding my downvote), I think it needs to be split into a few parts. Clearly a laser engraver can be built from scrap, what is easier to answer in the context of this site is some details about 'is a CD player laser strong enough to engrave', what safety do I need with a CD laser (or other type if you go that way). The business aspect of using DIY hardware I think is way off topic. $\endgroup$ Aug 16 '18 at 9:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "cheapest" is a pretty much impossible to answer question. One might arguably get it rather cheap if one converts a printer ot an engraver... This might best be a host for Laser-cutter questions interlinked or a general design consideration question. Basically there is a design triangle of "Cost-Safety-Versatility" to cover here: to go into one direction of this design triangle means to sacrifice in the other two, to to a compromise of two of these means to sacrifice in the third: there is no "Cheap-safe-AND-Versatile" machine. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Aug 16 '18 at 9:11

If you do not have knowledge about the electronics then consider buying a cheap etching machine instead.


Take a look on https://hackaday.com/ and search for laser engravers.

I have found following articles in few seconds:

Cheap laser engravers

And this one is about 2018 list of laser cutters/engravers: 15 Best Laser Cutters, Laser Engravers & AIO Machines of 2018. It lists machines around 100$

  • Meterk Laser Engraver ($125)
  • NEJE DK-8-KZ ($70)
  • QIILU Mini Laser Engraver ($130)
  • SuperCarver K2 ($160)


Laser could damage your eyes (imagine laser reflection or if the machine falls from table when it's working). Take a look on wikipedia.

The best option is to use acrylic cover in same color as your laser, so you can observe the etching process and the laser beam is always blocked. For example take a look on orange cover of Formlabs Form 2 3d printer (it uses laser for printing).

Another protection is to wear laser protection glasses. Again the glasses must have same color as your laser.

Using laser for cutting or engraving means to burn material away. You should have good ventilation in the room.

Buy a smoke detector if you use cheap electronics with higher power consumption.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This is a mostly link only answer. If the links die, which they usually do, then the answer will be not much use. Please edit and include a summary of each link, and the highlights $\endgroup$
    – Greenonline
    Aug 15 '18 at 12:02
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ As an alternative to editing this, you can always delete it to earn the 'peer-pressure' badge. I think it's important to address the safety issues if you do answer this question. To clarify - not my downvotes (hadn't voted on the question till now) $\endgroup$ Aug 16 '18 at 9:07
  • $\begingroup$ @SeanHoulihane thanks for the critics. I rather try to improve the answer then just to delete it. $\endgroup$
    – amra
    Aug 16 '18 at 10:12

I have a printer and a diode laser head which will etch aluminum for under $4k, but you're going to have to manage potentially noxious fumes based on what material you're lasering. It's safe if used safely: the focal distance is 15-20mm from the lens, but all present should wear PPE.

Note: I work for Hyrel3D.


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