This is the new buildlog.net open source rotational adapter for laser engraving. This allows you to engrave on a round surface. This design uses a friction drive method to rotate the workpiece. This has the advantage of keeping a consistent surface resolution regardless of diameter. This was designed to be 1000 steps/inch resolution. The length was sized to fit the 2.x laser, but you could easily scale it up to much longer or shorter. One design goal was absolute minimum height. This allows Z challenged engravers to be able to do some rotational engraving
The main feature of the design is the the two drive wheels. These serve several functions. They hold the rubber o-rings used to provide traction on the work piece. They have built in MXL drive pulleys and they have a spacer to ride directly on the bearings. These were 3D printed at Ponoko. With 3D printing, complexity is free. This encourages you to make the part do as many jobs as possible. I was initially concerned about the strength of these, but they turned out to be quite strong. I can probably reduce the material to take some cost out. I used the basic, cheapest, white flexible material. I was impressed with the detail level the material was able to hold. The belt fit perfectly.
At the other end of the assembly are the idler wheels. These also are Ponoko 3D printed items. They have bearings that press on each side. This allows them to roll freely with virtually no wobble. One idler has a flange on it. This acts as an end stop to the workpiece. It prevents it from “walking” while it is spinning. The stepper motor pulley serves the same function on the other end. This end is highly adjustable. There are three positions the wheels can be placed in. The plate can slide on the extrusions and you can flip it over. While all the adjustments are manual, they only take a few seconds to do.
Below is a video of some testing I did. I was trying to test a variety of shapes to see how they performed. In actual use the speed is very slow, because the the laser is primarily rastering along the length of the workpiece and this adapter just advances it a faction of millimeter at a time.
They all performed quite well. The only item that did not test well was a roll of duct tape (not shown). It was not very round so it wobbled a bit. It also has a sticky edge so it did not ride against the stops real well. The screwdriver at the end is an interesting example. While it did spin smoothly, it shows that if the image is not going to be at the same diameter as the drive area, some image scaling will be required before engraving. The bit is only 1/8″ diameter!
The design will be open source. There are a few tweaks to make before I release the drawings and 3D files. I may sell a complete kit for this. I estimate it will cost less than $100 with motor and extrusions included. I have not tested it in my laser yet. I don’t have the time right now, so I am going to have another 2.x laser owner do that for me….stay tuned for part 2.
Items Shown in video
- Beer Bottle
- Odd Shaped Oil Can (remove oil before lasering)
- Wine Glass
- Tiny Screwdriver