DIY Laser Engraver: A recycled DVD laser makes a great engraving tool
Today’s high-speed DVD drives have less than 40 nanoseconds to heat a bit position on a disk to its phase-change temperature, so anything that stays in the laser’s focus longer had better watch out—or prepare to be burned.
Thus was born the cheap diode-laser cutter and engraver: Get yourself an x-y carriage, a couple of stepper motors, a laser driver circuit, and a controller, and presto! You have an almost powerless, albeit very slow, cousin to the big laser cutters that have revolutionized small-scale flat-pack design and manufacturing.
But wait, there’s more—or rather less. A DVD drive already has a perfectly usable small stepper motor built in, along with guide rods that provide very precise single-axis travel. Mount two of them at right angles and you have the guts of a laser engraver that could fit in a very large pocket.
So I fired up my browser, read a real hac...