A project log for TO Can Opener

A device for opening TO-xx cans, for example laser diodes

David BrownDavid Brown 07/10/2017 at 13:590 Comments

A fairly simple project evolved from needing to remove the outer can of laser diodes as part of the process of building pig-tailed laser diode modules for my UV printer project. After searching I found that Thorlabs makes a tool for de-canning TO modules which is a nice aluminium tool and as would be expected for low volume product is quite costly.

I had a poor quality crimp tool (SN-28B) which has removeable dies and decided that rather than discarding to re-use this as the base for a de-canning tool.

Apart from the quality of the dies its a reasonably well made ratchet tool. After looking at pipe cutting disks I decided that they were the wrong shape to use. If you look at the Thor tool it has a custom concave cutting disk to allow the edge to get close to the main body of the can. Searching revealed that standard 28mm rotary cutting blades are abundant and generally use good hard steel in their manufacture. The TO-can being very thin material means that you dont need chunky blades to cut through it.

This resulted in the following design;

With a simple hub to hold the blade and upper jaw to hold the blade and actuating knob and adjustment bolt to prevent the jaws closing to far and damaging the internals of the component. And lower jaw with pair of small bearings to allow the can to rotate with the blade.

Side 1 - bearing and cutting disc with shield

Side 2 - actuating knob

I printed the components off in PLA using my new cheap prusa-i3 clone with 0.4mm nozzle, and was quite pleased with the results. You will need to use M3 tap to make threads in the lower jaws and knob. And its best to cable tie the ratchet release so that is free open/closing.

TO-18 laser diode easily and neatly de-canned smaller cans will need design modification to get the roller closer together (print a different lower jaw).