How to Add Laser to a CNC Router ? | The Edge Cutter

If you want to expand the potentiality of your CNC router, making it more versatile and worthwhile, then it is a good decision to add a laser to the system. But how? Well, that’s what this post is all about. 

Before getting started, let me tell you that  endurance lasers are currently trending as they are a very adaptable attachment and can easily fit into nearly any CNC router frame. These lasers are controlled through PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) signal.

An endurance laser unit is truly a useful gadget which can transform your router into a powerful engraving/welding/etching/laser cutting machine. Let’s consider an 8 Watt endurance diode laser; it helps you cut, engrave, or etch way deeper and faster into materials including wood, cardboard, plywood, acrylic, hardboard, plastic, leather, stone, plastic (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, Polylactic Acid), glass, ceramic, aluminum, etc. 

If things go right as they should be and you successfully install the laser to the router, you can leverage the ultimate abilities of that component to master the cutting expertise of plywood, wood, and other materials. For your quick information, laser installation doesn’t require you to have extensive knowledge in it. Plus, it will hardly take between 5 to 30 minutes to complete the installation, based on your knack.

The fix is simple; you have to connect the endurance laser to the spindle output pin. If necessary,  the TTL wire should be connected to the PWM output. Basically, you have to have the knowledge of wiring the laser unit to the CNC router. 

For that, firstly, go through your router’s manual. You should already have the laser pin on the mainboard. If it is not there, then look for the PWM pin on it. 

As said earlier, the laser is to be connected to the spindle output on your CNC router or to be attached to any other controllable pin, like D11 pin on Arduino Nano. 

Key Information About Laser-Router Connection

TTL+ is supported by endurance lasers with voltage control ranging from (3.5 to 24)V.  That means any voltage lying within this range can activate the MOSFET and the laser unit will begin working. Also, the voltage value is ineffective on the laser power – the value only influences PWM signal duration. For instance, the laser will be activated by the TTL circuit at any voltage within the above range, at any duty ratio, keeping the laser power unchanged.  

To be more straightforward, suppose you have  two situations: (i) the output voltage of 3.5V and 50% duty ratio the laser will function with 50% power, this similar situation takes place when (ii) the voltage output pin has 24V with 50% duty ratio. However, if you measure the average voltage of both the situations with a multimeter, then the value will be 1.75V and 12V, respectively.  

Now you may ask where the PWM pin is located on your mainboard? Well, in case your board does not have a separate PWM pin on it but the laser unit has to be controlled anyway, then know that some boards may  have varied voltages on the power output pin. For instance, suppose the power output on your board is between (0 and 24) V. In such cases, simply  attach the TTL wire to your router’s 12V spindle output. Then you have to utilize your existing output power to maneuver the laser.

Almost every CNC board comes with separate PWM pins typically meant for laser diodes.

Now there is another situation where your controller board does not have any PWM output pin on it. What to do then? Well, in such a case, if the board supports an Arduino Nano connectivity, then consider the D11 output pin on Arduino as a PWM pin, make the connection with the laser unit and control the TTL.

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