Guide for DIY CNC Laser Cutting

If you’re new to the world of making things at home, it can be pretty confusing to know what you need to get started. CNC stands for Computer Numerical Contol, and it’s a special machine that uses math to cut things out of wood, metal, or other materials. It’s called CNC because the machine uses a computer program to tell it what to do. CNC machines are used to make lots of things in your home like furniture, cabinets, signs, etc. Many people also use CNC machines to make parts for cars. CNC machines can be fairly expensive, ranging anywhere from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. You’ll also need computer software to run it. Most CNC machines run on Windows-based software. You’ll also need to have a place to put it. Most CNC machines are too large to fit in a home, so you’ll need to have a shop or garage where you can put it.

What is a CNC laser cutting machine?

A laser cutter is a type of computer-controlled cutting machine. It uses a laser to cut materials such as wood, acrylic, fabric, and paper. A CNC (computer numerical control) router is a similar machine that is used to cut materials like wood, metal, or plastics. The big difference is that the laser is an additional component on a CNC router. All computer-controlled cutting machines require a computer program to tell the machine what to cut and how to do it. The software for each machine is different so shop around to find the one that suits your needs best. Most of the programs are user-friendly and fairly intuitive, so you won’t have any trouble figuring them out. You can also find detailed tutorials online if you have any trouble.

Why build your own and what's required?

If you're interested in building your own CNC router, it is possible to create a very capable machine for a few hundred dollars. There are a few different designs for DIY CNC routers, but they all require the same essential tools. You'll need a few different types of materials, including wood, metal, and plastic. Once you have all the necessary parts, you can follow the instructions to build your own CNC router. It's a pretty time-consuming project, but it's also very rewarding. A complete DIY tutorial will walk you through the process of building a router from scratch, from obtaining all the parts to installing and calibrating the machine. The open-source software controls the router, so you can modify it to suit your needs. Before you get started with building a CNC router, make sure you have all the necessary skills to do so. It's a pretty technical project requiring a lot of precision and knowledge about computers. You'll also need a space where you can work with wood and metal cuttings.

Materials needed to build a DIY laser cutter

This is a list of what you need to build a CNC Laser Cutting with open source software: 

  • A computer - You will need a computer with a USB port. The computer can be old or new, but it needs to be able to run Linux. 
  • A CNC controller - The heart of the machine.
  • A stepper motor - To power and drive the router. 
  • A router - A machine that cuts out a shape from a piece of material. 
  • A spindle - To hold and spin the router. 
  • A power supply - To power the machine.

Open source CNC software - How to get started?

You will first need to find a piece of open-source CNC software that you can use to create your machine. A few open-source options are available to you, but the most popular ones are Slic3r, Cura, and Skprint. Depending on the type of machine you want to build, you will need to choose the right software. You can also download and install a pre-made machine from one of the many open-source websites available. Once you have your software downloaded, you will need to configure it. Depending on the software you choose, you may need to manually configure voltages and speed rates. Once you have your software configured, you will need to download DXF files to create a G-code file. G-code is a type of code that tells the computer what to do. You can find FREE DXF Files online or create your own. Once you have your DXF file downloaded, you will need to load it into your computer.

The actual build process

First, you will need to find the right materials to build your CNC router. You can use wood or MDF (medium-density fiberboard) to build the frame, and aluminum or steel to construct the router and spindle. Since you'll need to mount the computer and router, you can also use pieces of wood to make a frame. The idea is to have a big table to place all the parts of the computer. You can find plans online to follow like DXFforCNC.com it will provide you with tons of FREE DXF Files collections that will cover your needs, or you can create your own design that fits your space and materials. Next, you will need to install the controller. The controller is the heart of the machine, so you will want to follow the instructions carefully. The controller will come with a USB cable. Plug one end of the USB cable into the computer and the other end into the controller.

The Drawbacks of CNC Laser Cutting

CNC laser cutting is frequently commended for being less expensive and more flexible than CO2 laser cutting or waterjet cutting. CNC Laser Cutting has its own difficulties, one of which is CAD design. If you would like to create your own designs with a distinct appearance, CAD design is not required. If you simply want to replicate a simple shape or font, you'll have to either sketch it out on paper and use that as a template or use CAD software like Adobe Illustrator or Inventor to make it yourself. Another potential drawback of CNC Laser Cutting is that it might not be able to generate sharp corners or curves because of how the technique relies on flat surfaces to handle the material during the undercutting process. There is a substantial dependence on how wide the material being sliced is and how much pressure it can take before bending too sharply in terms of the ability to generate curves and corners. 

Conclusion

A CNC laser cutting machine can be a great addition to your workshop, and building your own DIY machine is a fun project to get started with. If you're interested in building your own, you'll need to be prepared to spend some time reading tutorials, planning the design, and gathering materials.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

Free DXF Files Downloads for CNC Machine