Modern 3d printers can be used for much more than just 3d printing. By attaching a diode laser module for example, you can easily convert your cheap 3d printer into a capable laser engraver and cutter.
The possibilities that this opens are endless, from customizing simple things with text or a logo, to creating fascinating objects out of wood. One example would be this incredible ornamental lamp made from plywood with a simple diode laser on a 3d printer.
The model for this lamp is available on Thingiverse, a popular 3d file exchange platform, free of charge for everyone to download and replicate. The download includes the files for the individual parts, and a file with the right number of them already for one panel, which you can go ahead and send to your laser, if it is big enough. In most cases with a retrofitted 3d printer you will have to put together multiple smaller files though, as there are quite many parts that are needed.
When preparing the file for lasering, you will also want to consider how fast you can go. The plans call for 3mm plywood, so it’s a good idea to do some tests first to see what settings work for cutting that. In the case of the 10W Endurance laser that was used in this example, 120mm/min at full power with 2 passes was ideal. Depending on the output of your laser these numbers might vary quite a bit though.
Watch out for bent boards
In total it ended up being around 15h of lasering with the machine used, for the pieces that are needed. One thing you need to be careful of to avoid having to redo some panels, is that 3mm plywood is often a bit bent. If you just set the boards on the bed of your laser, the focus point of the laser will likely not be correct for the entire part, resulting in some parts being not quite cut through.
One thing that works quite well, is to put the boards down so they are concave and then taping the edges to the worktable. This holds the boards nice and flat, leaving you with a good result.
After all the pieces are cut out, the next step is to assemble them. If you want, you can paint the pieces, or coat them with varnish, though it really isn’t necessary. To start out the assembly, it is easiest to glue the connector pieces on one side to the main panels. While doing that you have to pay close attention to where the pieces must go, and where you need to leave empty to be able to connect the other pieces to.
After all the 12 main pieces have the connection pieces attached, you can start putting them together. It turns out that most likely the friction between the pieces is enough to hold the lamp together securely, which is handy, as it allows you to take it apart any time I need to. If it isn’t secure though, you can of course add some glue to lock it into place.
As the last step you can add your light source to the lamp. Because the shadow it casts is one of the main attractions of the lamp, it is a good idea to choose a light source that is as small as possible, so the shadow stays sharp. With that done, the lamp is complete.
About the Author:
David Wieland, https://youtube.com/datulabtech
Sponsored by Endurance Lasers https://endurancelasers.com