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Installing an Endurance laser module on my Wanhao 3d printer


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Over the Christmas break I have finished a little project.

 

I wanted to add a laser engraving/cutting module to my Wanhao Duplicator i3 v2.1, without losing its ability to 3d print.   I had determined to drive the laser with the excellent Lightburn software and, in order to do this, I had to change the firmware on the Melzi board from the odd version of Repetier used by Wanhao to Marlin, thus allowing full integration with the Lightburn software. I bought a 3.5w laser module from Endurance Lasers, a reputedly reliable source with good customer support and, most important of all, simple electronic connections.

 

I have succeeded in this ambition and thought it might be helpful to share the project here so that any interested members can gain an insight into how this was done.

 

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The Endurance Laser module comes with a whole range of mounting holes pre-drilled and threaded in the outside casing. The task is to secure this to the lower fan mounting on the Wanhao. I simply drilled appropriately spaced holes for M3 nuts and bolts in a length of 10mm x 10mm aluminium angle, mounted the bracket to the laser module and then bolted the bracket to the fan mount. This only takes a few minutes and provides a secure, reversible mount for the laser which means, of course, that the original fan can be reinstalled in an equally short time.   The photo below shows the mounted laser module.

 

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The Endurance Laser can be powered by the 12v supply to the Wanhao Duplicator’s cooling fan and, as this provides a controlled Pulse Width Modulation supply, allows the TTL connection of the laser to be very simply wired too. As can be seen in the photograph, the cooling fan connector is wired to the laser positive and negative wires and the white TTL lead on the laser to the positive wire on the laser too. This simple wiring allows full control of the laser intensity through the cooling fan control which, as you will know if you have a Wanhao i3, normally controls the “percentage” of the fan’s power that is being applied. No other electronic connections are necessary, the amperage and current of the Wanhao being adequate to power the 3.5w Endurance Laser.

 

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Having downloaded a trial version of Lightburn to do both the design and laser control, it was discovered that this would not work with the unusual version of Repetier that Wanhao install on the i3. In fact, Lightburn will not currently work with any kind of Repetier. I wanted to keep the functionality of the 3d printer so I needed a firmware that would both integrate with Lightburn and the Endurance Laser and also perform 3d printing. The answer was Marlin.
A version of Marlin was downloaded from Github and an attempt made to upload it to the Melzi board on the i3. At this stage, it became obvious that there was no bootloader on the Melzi board, so the Arduino IDE was used to burn one. Connecting the Arduino to the Melzi board was fiddly but eminently doable and, with the reset jumper firmly installed on the printer, the bootloader flashed over in seconds. With the bootloader burned on, flashing the Marlin version was easy and finished in short time.
I would add here that if you are content to use some of the different free software available to run your laser, such as Inkscape for design and the excellent Endurance or JTech plugins to produce the g-code, the change of firmware is unnecessary. I wanted to use Lightburn so this was unavoidable, but very simple in the end.

 

The integration of the Endurance Laser and the Lightburn software allowed a novice like me to produce some nice things very quickly. The module engraves on most non-metallic surfaces and cuts wood, card and paper with no issues. The thickest I have cut so far is 3mm birch ply. Variable power is applied automatically by the Lightburn software and responded to readily by the laser module, so picture engraving is practical too.

The Wanhao runs beautifully on Marlin firmware, both as a laser cutter and as a 3d printer!

 

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I would be happy to try and assist any other member who may wish to do this.

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Presume that this is the website?

 

http://endurancelasers.com

 

I understand that the emblaser heads will also be available separately, don’t know the price.

 

eBay options also exist

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/5W-Laser-Head-Engraving-Module-Wood-Marking-Wood-Cutting-For-Engraver-W-TTL/152627206152?hash=item23894a5808:g:fEMAAOSw3jBawv1a

 

Happy New Year

Simon

Edited by Simond
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Very interesting. I will take time later to read this carefully.

 

Did the laser module cost $295 ?

 

...R

I got mine for $175 in the Black Friday saIes - thought this reasonable as it included international postage too. There always appear to be offers on with many laser module suppliers, might be worth asking some how much you could get one for? I chose Endurance as they have a good reputation for after sales support and the website offers a lifetime warranty on the unit I bought.

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Presume that this is the website?http://endurancelasers.com

I understand that the emblaser heads will also be available separately, don’t know the price.

eBay options also exist https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/5W-Laser-Head-Engraving-Module-Wood-Marking-Wood-Cutting-For-Engraver-W-TTL/152627206152?hash=item23894a5808:g:fEMAAOSw3jBawv1a

Happy New Year

Simon

Yes Simon, that is the Endurance website. I originally bought a Chinese laser module that arrived dead having taken over 20 working days to come. I then decided to go upmarket, hence the contact and subsequent purchase from Endurance. All paid by PayPal, so the associated assurances made me feel good about the deal. The unit arrived in less than a week.

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Whilst my wife was pleased with my first efforts (as shown above), it was time to do something practical and railway related on the Endurance/ Wanhao laser cutter.

 

So, here are some cruel close ups of the walls of a rear extension to a warehouse, drawn and engraved to 1/87 HO scale.

 

These are engraved on plywood and await final cutting out.

 

Created in Lightburn software.

 

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I’m happy with these as a “first go” and am looking forward to doing more.

 

Davey

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Ever wondered what to do with those Amazon boxes?

 

This took a couple of minutes this morning - it’s a trial for a background warehouse window and it and many more will be cut in better card for the “real thing” so to speak!

 

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The Endurance Laser module made short shrift of this and was able to cut at sufficient speed to avoid burning the surface of the card.

 

Davey

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I have an aluminium honeycomb under my workpieces on my co2 laser. It doesn’t burn but is entirely clagged up with condensed glue from cut MDF.

 

Where I have used odd bits of steel as weights, they are marked but not cut. Indeed, I’d consider using the laser to mark out metal

 

Cornflake packets are effectively free greyboard - a useful raw material

 

Atb

Simon

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What have you got underneath the material that is to be cut? And does it also get burned?

 

...R

The laser would quickly burn the surface of the bed on the 3d printer, so you need something. My immediate solution was to cut some floorboards which I had bought for other reasons for 50p each in Wilko’s Charity bin! A couple of stops on either side to ensure it stays in place (and misses the mass of wires at the back of the Wanhao) and all was well.

 

 

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It does get singed sometimes, but the majority of this damage was done when I first started and was playing around with settings. Here it is on the machine.

 

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Here is the latest incarnation of the window, now cut in a finer, coloured card, glazed and mounted in a wall panel. Just waiting for a window sill.

 

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And here is the assembled front.

 

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The laser was used to cut the windows from thin card and the window “holes” from the thick cardboard box material. I get a consistency that I cannot manage manually. Window sills and a roof next...then some dirt!

 

Davey

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With its freshly applied window sills oozing glue and a newly added header strip, the Draxla warehouse is ready for weathering and then mounting at the back of the layout.

 

post-1364-0-20289900-1548269700.jpeg

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Moved on to cutting some brackets for the warehouse awning.   I’m delighted with these as I know I could not do this with a knife.   Others can, but I can’t!0B819B00-F0CD-4196-B455-3DA8C144D789.jpeg.7b30d2edbffafca20540707039664b95.jpeg7E959A18-DE45-4A6E-A06E-05E13DAE9D2A.jpeg.08269808dfb2ce1801c5532d1ab9a023.jpeg133A4A76-3AB7-4250-8BB1-A8B80984DB52.jpeg.aabd91ef474f4955e292301716ad7021.jpeg

 

All cut with the 3d printer laser module from thick card that I bought in the Range following a “bargain” tip on here.

 

Good way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

 

Davey

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