Laser engravers are very handy for engraving a wide range of materials, and even for cutting some thin material. Unfortunately, virtually all laser cutters are designed to hold the work piece inside of the enclosure. That can severely limit the size of the sheets you can work with, and not many people have the budget or space for a laser engraver large enough for something like a sheet of plywood. That’s why Adam Haile of Maniacal Labs has developed a laser engraver that sits on top of the work piece.
The Engravinator is completely open source, and its unique design makes it possible to engrave material of any size. The actual working area is 130 x 130mm (about 5 x 5 inches), but the machine can be moved after each job in order to engrave large pieces. That means that you can engrave an entire 4x8 foot sheet of plywood if you’re so inclined, making it perfect for those of you who enjoy carpentry. The standard machine weighs just 4kg, so it’s easy to move, lift, and place on your work piece. Other than the bottom opening, The Engravinator is fully-enclosed in order to protect your eyes.
If you want to build your own, Maniacal Labs has put together a thorough assembly guide. They’ve also provided a detailed BoM (Bill of Materials) containing all of the components you’ll need, and the files for the 3D-printed parts. Most of the components are readily-available online, as they’re commonly used to build 3D printers. The major exception is the Grbl control board, which was designed specifically for The Engravinator. There are plans to sell that board on the Maniacal Labs Tindie store soon.
After assembly, you can choose from a variety of common PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) diode lasers. The control board supports 1/16 micro-stepping, resulting in a resolution of 10 microns. Travel speed is up to 10,000 mm/min on the X axis, and 6,000 mm/min on the Y axis. If you’ve been looking for an affordable way to engrave large work pieces, The Engravinator is definitely worth considering.