Creality, a popular brand of 3d printers has finally launched 3 laser modules to convert their 3d printers into laser engravers. Earlier, Snapmaker launched a similar 3d printer setup that actually acts as three different machines a 3d printer, a laser engraver, and a CNC cutting plotter.
Vast majorities of Creality’s customers are buying their latest laser module attachments to make laser engravings and lightweight laser cuttings using the same old 3d printer.
What types of laser modules has Creality launched?
There are mainly three types of laser cutters & engravers – Diode laser, CO2 laser & Fiber laser. Among them, Fiber lasers are the most expensive and used for heavier materials such as thick metal, copper, stainless steel, and alloy. Fiber lasers range from 2000 watts to 4000 watts which are more than 100% more powerful than the CO2 laser cutters.
CO2 lasers cut different materials with the help of gas and electricity that ranges from 40 watts to 300 watts. CO2 lasers are used to cut wood, stone, acrylic, plywood, MDF, glass, and other thicker materials.
Diode lasers are the least powerful compared to both CO2 & fiber lasers which are mainly used to engrave at around 1 mm to 10 mm depth.
With a diode laser, you can also cut the hardboard, and plywood and make amazing crafts based on the designs that you have.
Creality’s laser modules are the diode laser with a power variety of 1.6 watts, 5 watts, and 10 watts.
Creality’s Laser Module Comparison
As discussed, Creality has launched three types of laser modules suitable for different laser works. The following comparison table will help to understand them further.
|10 Watts Laser||5 Watts Laser||1.6 Watts Laser|
|Laser Power||10 W||5 W||1.6 W|
|Spot Size||0.06 mm||0.06 mm||0.05 to 0.01 mm|
|Cutting Depth||12 mm Wood||5 mm wood||0.5 mm wood|
|Compatible Software||Lightburn & Laser GRBL||Lightburn & Laser GRBL||Lightburn & Laser GRBL|
|Supported Material||Board, Wood, Bamboo, Rubber, Leather, Fabric, Acrylic, Plastic etc||Board, Wood, Bamboo, Rubber, Leather, Fabric, Acrylic, Plastic etc||Board, Bamboo, Rubber, Leather, Fabric, Acrylic, etc|
|Flame Detection||Not Available||Not Available||Not Available|
|Gyroscope Detection||Not Available||Not Available||Not Available|
|Rotarry Attachment||Not Available||Not Available||Not Available|
|Work Bed||As per 3d printer bed||As per 3d printer bed||As per 3d printer bed|
|Price||Check Price & Customers' Insights|
Key Takeaways – Positive Sides
The followings are key points that influence Creality users to buy a laser module add-on:
- Cost Efficiency – Someone with a 3d printer of Creality can easily invest $70 to $150 and convert their old 3d printer into a laser engraver.
- Ease of use – Using a diode laser is not a difficult task. If anyone can draw a design for 3d printing, then it will even be easier for him to make drawings for the laser engravings.
- Quick Conversion – since creality’s laser modules are specially designed for the Creality 3d printers, the laser head conversion time is very quick and even lesser than the Snapmaker.
- Compatibility – This is amazing that Creality lasers are supporting Lightburn which is the most powerful laser engraver control software today. Similarly, a Lightburn-supported laser module ensures that the customers don’t need to rely on online software which becomes volatile when the internet connections are not stable.
- Better Precision – Since Creality’s laser module spot size is 0.06 mm, it defines that the users can easily draw and cut at the tiniest curvature.
The followings are the cons of the Creality laser module conversion kit:
- Working with a laser is risky and it becomes riskier if you are working without an enclosure. Since Creality 3d printers come without an enclosure, there might be an additional cost of buying an additional enclosure.
- There is no air assist which makes the laser works less cleanly than the prominent laser engravers. (An air assist reduces the laser impact, makes fonts more vibrant, and blows the dust and smoke away from the engraving area).
- This is not clear whether the newly launched laser module has the necessary compatibility to work with rotary attachments. If so, the rotary kit & other extension kits price is still unknown which makes the decision-making process a bit complex. (A rotary attachment is a must if you try to engrave round-shaped materials such as Mug & Tumblers)
- A 3d printer bed is not ideal for laser engraving. The finest laser engravers come with a honeycomb bed which gives the laser beam better airflow and removes the dust from the contact point of the laser beam. It means, working with a 0.06 mm spot size accurately would cost you another $50 to buy a honeycomb bed. However, this is still unknown if the available honeycomb beds would actually work with the Creality dimension.
- These laser module converters will not work with the Core XY 3d printers such as Ender 5 pro. As per the last briefing, only the Creality Ender series can be converted into a laser engraver with these laser module extension kits.
How to convert Creality 3d printer into Laser Engraver?
Conversion of a Creality ender 3d printer into a laser engraver is easy if you follow these simple instructions:
- First, you need to install the laser module into the 3d print head of your Ender 3 series 3d printer
- Then perform a clockwise rotation of the screws to tighten up
- Connect the wires of the laser head
- Download the firmware and you are good to go
Here’s the firmware download link.
You must ensure that the laser module is uninstalled after use. Otherwise, the laser beam will start to work again & the laser power will slowly increase in line with the fan’s rotation.
This is surely going to be a risk factor if someone forgets to remove the laser module after use.
Does the Creality laser module generate fume & Noise?
The laser module will surely generate a lot of fumes due to its nature. Normally, a laser works either through burning, melting, or vaporizing the material. In that case, the conversion of a Crelity 3d printer into a laser engraver will cause harmful fumes.
Typically, a laser engraver comes with an enclosure and an air-assist exhaust so that the fumes and smoke are blown away somewhere else. Some of the great laser engravers even offer a HEPA-certified filter that blocks the harmful contents of the smoke and saves the indoor environment.
If you are converting your Creality 3d printer into a laser engraver, these are the tips you may take:
- Buy an enclosure or an exhaust to blow the smoke away
- If you don’t have an exhaust, keep your pets and children in a separate room to avoid any health issues
- Use a protective mask to cover your inhaling system
- Always use protective eyeglasses while using a laser engraver
Similarly, such conversion would also cause noise since there are no enclosures and an internal water cooling system. Due to the lack of an internal cooling mechanism, the stepper driver will signal the fan to increase its power which ultimately creates a lot of noise.
As per scientists, above 85 decibels of noise is considered to be harmful to humans. We have seen earlier, that good quality laser engravers produce around 70 DB noise even with the help of air assist & exhaust.
As a result, you can expect that the noise would be more than the benchmark and you should take necessary precautions before starting to do some laser work.
Infact, an $80 conversion would not give you everything except a chance to experiment with laser tools.
Is it wise to convert a 3d printer into a laser engraver?
Conversion of a 3d printer into a laser engraver can be a good decision if –
- You have prior laser engraving experience
- You have all the safety gear alongside
- You have small tasks
- You are not running a crafting business
Otherwise – investing around $600 in a professional laser engraver will give you the followings:
- Do whatever you would love to
- Ensure the tiniest precision with maximum resolution
- No edge burning since there will be an air assist
- Freedom of engraving anything such as stone, jewelry, leather, and tumbler
- Handmade drawing engraving through the engraver’s built-in camera
- Safety features such as – flame detection & automatic calibration and a lot more.
Common problems of converting a 3d printer into a laser engraver
These are the major concerns if you are thinking about converting your 3d printer into a laser engraver by just converting the laser print head kit.
- Potential for overheating: Laser engraving requires more power than 3D printing, which can cause the printer to overheat if not properly ventilated.
- Limited materials: 3D printers are typically limited to plastics and other thermoplastics, while laser engraving can work on almost any material.
- Safety: Laser engraving can be hazardous and must be done with proper safety precautions.
- Software compatibility: Different software may be required to work with different types of laser engraving processes.
- Time: Laser engraving takes much longer than 3D printing, and is not suitable for large-scale production.
Converting a 3d printer into a laser engraver is not a great idea unless you are a hobbyist and your target is just to try out small engravings. Otherwise, we always recommend buying a professional laser engraver to explore more.