Lowest Complexity Laser Cutter

revolutionary simple, low-cost, medium-footprint laser cutter/engraver

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LCLC aims to be a laser cutter that can easily be built and used by anyone.
The cost and difficulty of building one should not exceed that of an introductory 3D printer.


  • 0.5 m * 0.5 m work area below $250 
  • Very reproducible build (no exotic part, no special tool) 
  • Safe operation 
  • Minimal mechanical maintenance 


  • frame & drivetrain designed, prototype being built 


  • February 28th, 2020


# Part Variations (excl. vitamins)7
# Total Parts (excl. fasteners)43
# Stepper Motors5
# 608 Bearings11

v2.1: 2D Gantry Finished

The connector between X and Y axis (I don't know what else to call it) was revised in order to use only two wheels on each side. Overall, I am confident with the completeness of the design! Although it should be possible to simplify the design even more, it looks much more simpler compared to other laser cutter / CNC gantry designs I've found online.

I welcome and appreciate any sort of feedback or criticism for my design so far!!! 


I've always wanted to use a laser cutter. But as a high school student in suburb, it was hard to even take a glimpse at a real laser cutter. My school does not own one, and there is no makerspace or laser cutting service near me.

Like 3D printers, there are very cheap laser cutters around the market, though. Chinese-made K40 cutters can be purchased under $300 and function right off the bet. But K40s have a small cutting/engraving area for its outer size, and although they are equipped with tough-looking case, one can easily question their safety in operation. 

This project (kind of) inherits the intentions of RepRap project in creating an open source design that can be easily replicated by people around the world, especially ones like me (students without access to laser cutter nor big $). 

It is also a design practice for me, in utilizing the freedom in part design given by 3D printing to unify and optimize parts and create something that is much simpler to build compared to its conventional counterpart (like 3D printed items with compliant mechanisms). 

Design Intentions

  • Minimal number of component variations
  • Minimal number of components
  • Standardized & unified "vitamins"


The main challenge I've identified is, of course, safety. I've chosen to use diode lasers instead of CO2 lasers for their superb simplicity (compared to all the mirrors and things with CO2 tube). But diode lasers use a shorter wavelength than CO2 tubes, and are generally a bigger threat for eyesight. 

Also, the rays from diode lasers are not as easily absorbed into transparent plastic panels used for CO2 cutters (polycarbonate, polystyrene?), so an external case is not the ideal solution. 

I am thinking of putting a cover enclosing the entire laser-emitting area so that the ray and any reflection from the laser is absorbed into the machine. We'll have to see how that goes, though. 


I absolutely welcome any positive/critical feedback, any random ideas, and any potential collaborators.

The my second reason of being on is to interact and collaborate with other people in progressing through interesting projects. I'm open, so please don't hesitate!

  • 1 × RAMPS-based Motherboard
  • 4 × NEMA 17 Stepper Motors
  • 10 × 608 Bearings
  • 2 × GT2 Timing Belts (in meters)
  • 30 × M4 Fasteners screws, nuts, washers each

  • Parts are in!

    Jason Cho02/11/2020 at 01:38 0 comments

    Specifically, the 2020 extrusion from Misumi. 

    This was my first time ordering aluminum extrusions, and I know I didn't even do anything yet, but it just feels exciting looking at these. I feel so stupid. 

  • Design Progress

    Jason Cho02/11/2020 at 01:36 0 comments

    It feels like going very very slow.

    I've seen these types of 2D CNC gantries built up in a matter of hours in makerspaces.

    Oops, I guess I'm obsessing too much with optimization... And even then it's not that optimized either. 

  • DIY Riser Plate (???) Proposal

    Jason Cho01/14/2020 at 00:33 0 comments

    It's said that a picture is worth a thousands words, but I am sure my sketches' worth are more like five to six (in an optimistic measure). 

    Anyway, I have been having difficulties thinking about the bottom surface of LCLC.

    See those diamond-shaped grill/web on the bottom? That is the protective piece (I could not find what that is called!), securely holding the workpiece while minimizing any damage from the laser, usually by having a low normal-surface area and offsetting the workpiece from the laser cutter. 

    Many printers make use of that metal web design, although the (glass) fiber lasers I have seen had triangular spikes holding the piece. 

    Because the core concept of LCLC is minimizing the scale of the design by having all the parts pinned down on a (wooden) frame, like how Sienci Labs' LongMill) a big conflict was kind of inevitable, especially because I couldn't find the things being sold online. 

    Constructing these things would be hard as well, since there would need to be cutouts for every intersecting spot on each fin. 

    However, if the metal fins are unidirectional and have no crossing, it should be easy to construct.

    Also, a simple guide with cutouts to align the fins should make it easy to attach it to LCLC.

    So that's the idea.

    Typing this, I realized that a barbecue grill would prove itself to function well too. We'll have to see. 

  • Just Sketches

    Jason Cho01/14/2020 at 00:22 0 comments

    I am currently a little bit obsessed with making the construction as simple as possible.

    I figured to draw up some sketches and plan out how the parts and functions will be like.

    This is the sketch for the corner bracket(???) thing at the four corners, used to pin down the extrusion into a frame as well as supporting the GT2 idler wheel or pulley (attached with NEMA 17 steppers).

    The drawing quality is obviously not that good, and I forgot to include a hole for the GT2 belt to move through. More on this later.

    This is the brainstorming sheet to see how the y-axis (second layer axis? with one rail instead of two) end brackets as well as the effector would look like.

    This is a very bad sketch for the end effector. As you would notice, it's called a pen effector. It's going to hold a pen.

    I was inspired by the ODrive demo video drawing the cool pattern, and I think there would be lots of things I could achieve with a pen and paper, especially in school with my math and science teachers.

    Some ideas are:

    • Drawing mathematical curves (maybe fractals)
    • Drawing big graphs, just for fun
    • Holding a laser pointer for cool long-exposure shots (long exposure drawings)

  • Mechanical Design - About Halfway Done!

    Jason Cho01/09/2020 at 02:27 0 comments

    As usual (for me), most of the design process will actually take place in Blender instead of diving right into CAD. 

    The main goal of this project being pure mechanical simplicity, it's a mild success so far. 

    I am very excited to do some reverse-engineering on 3D printer designs I've found online, now that I know what it's like to design belt-driven components running on aluminum extrusions! 

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