We have created the L-Cheapo to add laser cutting and engraving to your 3D printer or CNC mill.
What is the L-Cheapo?
The L-Cheapo is an attachment for a CNC device such as a 3D printer or CNC mill that simply and cheaply adds the ability to cut and engrave many materials. At its heart is a 2 watt blue laser diode that can run continuously without additional cooling, plenty of power to burn through acrylic, wood and leather. As with any high powered laser, it is not safe to look at the bright blue spot without appropriate goggles, remember, “do not look into laser with remaining eye”.
Initial attachment and calibration of the L-Cheapo should not take more than a few hours, after which switching from printing to engraving/cutting is a tool-free two-minute task. There is no need for a separate power supply for the L-Cheapo either, the average 3D printer’s hotend uses significantly more power than this laser draws, so it can simply draw from the same supply.
What can I do with the L-Cheapo?
The L-Cheapo cuts paper, acrylic, balsa, plywood, hardboard, cardboard, leather, felt, and foam. It engraves on all these, plus ceramic and protoboard. The image to the right is the result of the materials test that determined this.
In addition to the wonderful reality of rapid prototyping that extrusion 3D printing has brought to the home shop, now you can create parts from significantly tougher materials for those bits that take all the force. Acrylic and wood make significantly better materials for things like gears and manipulators on your next robot design. This also means those parts of your design that need to bear heavy loads can be replaced with better materials without having to have them machined.
As this tool can also engrave, it is equally useful for artists interested in adding to their capabilities, or even just adding your logo or a cute little touch to your next prototype or that laptop you love. It is capable of working with leather as well, which opens up the possibility for translating all those complex intricate designs you have in mind to physical reality. The laser can also be used to ablate material, creating arbitrary 3D relief, though it should be mentioned the high temperature will blacken most materials.
New L-Cheapo Mark 3
The L-Cheapo Mark 3 is smaller and outputs 70% more photons! That’s a lot of photons. It will cut up to 1/4″ plywood.