Engraving laser in Silhouette Portrait Cutter

Custom mount for installing a 12mm laser module in a Silhouette portrait or Cameo cutter to enable engraving/cutting.

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The Silhouette Portrait is a small machine designed to cut and draw on various materials using a snap in tool holder. It looks much like an inkjet printer. The Y axis is a set of rollers that push/pull the material. The X axis slides the knife or pen side to side. And the Z is a simple pen up/down solenoid. Because of the tool holder, there are several different tools and pens that can be inserted and used for various tasks and materials.

What is missing of course is a laser. Everything needs a laser! So this project is focused on designing a 3D printed adapter for a cutting/burning laser diode to enable the portrait to do engraving and cutting using a laser. HaD covered another user hacking something together previously to do this, so I am certainly not the first. However, I believe that I am the first to design an actual robust part that can simply be snapped into the holder.

Further mods planned are to upgrade the rollers and allow thicker material to be run in the portrait.

So, I am starting this project at the second iteration. The first can be found at the thingiverse link to the left. The prior design is simple and should work fine, but lacked many features I wanted.

Here are my design goals (may get updated):

1. Can be printed on a standard home 3D printer

2. Sets the diode approximately 30mm from the material for optimum power and smallest beam diameter

3. Snap in to the portrait or cameo cutter with no modifications necessary

4. Ability to adjust the focus while in the holder

5. Would like to allow for a heatsink/cooling/air-assist for the laser so a more powerful diode can be used

If you are familiar with 3D printing, accomplishing number 1 can be quite the challenge with something like this. I would very much welcome any tips or suggestions.

Some technical details:

The dimension from the platen to the top of the tool clamp is 34mm when the pen is up and 29mm when the pen is down. The tool clamp is 17mm deep and tools are 14mm in diameter. The flange on the various OEM tools is 17mm in diameter and about 1.5mm high. Anything above the flange must fit within an 9.5mm radius in the back half. The front half is relatively free.

Since the cutter brings the pen down when it wants to cut, our laser will be turned on when the pen is down. To accomplish this, I am stealing the clever trick used by [Peter] before and featured on HaD here: in

Essentially, a switch is mounted over the flat portion of the carriage which gets pressed when the pen is down. It looks fairly simple to actually tap right in to the solenoid, but that requires modification of the Portrait machine.

The flange on the tool sits approximately flush with this flat area when the pen is down.

  • Future

    Retroplayer07/17/2015 at 16:41 0 comments

    Since this is my project feed, I get to digress a bit. This little machine has a lot of potential to fill several maker needs. A future project will look at making this machine either mill PCBs or at least apply etch resist. The Portrait and Cameo both have an optical sensor which can see registration marks on the material to ensure precise location of the pattern on the material. This would be very useful for doing double-sided boards.

    If anybody has any future ideas for upgrades, let me know and perhaps I will take it up as another project since I would like to get the max use out of this machine.

    At some point in the future, I will likely delve into reverse engineering some of it and possibly writing some custom software to control it. For now, it can be controlled through Inkscape. And of course it comes with software from the manufacturer that is also pretty decent, but more directed at crafts.

  • Getting started

    Retroplayer07/17/2015 at 16:24 0 comments

    So my second iteration is shown in the project picture. It involves a clip holder to snap in the diode and enough room around the lens to accommodate a ring that slides on to the lens. This allows the lens to be twisted about 180 degrees. I am not sure yet if that is enough adjustment range because the lens threads are very fine. The holder is designed to place the end of the diode module at 30mm from the platen when the pen is down, however. So only small adjustments should be necessary. I would welcome some ideas for improvement on this.

    In the picture, you can see the part that protrudes over the flat area. This is where a switch will be mounted. I am currently looking for an ideal switch/mounting arrangement. My next experiment will be to see if there is enough force to push a tactile switch.

    As-is, there are too many overhangs for my comfort. As you can see the print quality turned out pretty rough. I think cutting it into multiple parts is the only way I can go to clean that up.

    Still nothing for handling cooling or air assist to the diode. This is really going to be necessary for any laser 500W or more. My options seem to be limited for this since there is not very much room around the diode available. You would be my hero if you have a winning suggestion for this. One of the ideas I am toying with is to place the diode perpendicular and use a mirror to direct the beam down the barrel. This would afford me quite a bit more room for cooling. But it would necessitate removing the cover of the Portrait and possibly even the back (which I had already done.) I'd rather not force anyone to modify their machine. I'd like this to be just a drop in tool.

    You can go take a look at the first iteration at the thingiverse link above. I will be updloading this second iteration there soon. It is not really 3D print ready yet, but I'd like to make it available for others to toy with and help improve.

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Enjoy this project?



George I Fomitchev wrote 06/25/2017 at 20:43 point

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georgefomitchef wrote 02/12/2016 at 08:56 point

MakeBlock XY plotter kit transformation

MakeBlock XY plotter is really good thing to use for engraving and laser cutting because

it has bigger sizes comparing to DIY kit. 31 X 39 cm (is quite a lot)

As far as we know there is a laser kit for MakeBlock but we did not try it. If anyone has
an experience, please share with us!

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