I purchased the 1 watt S3 Arctic Spyder laser from and created an adapter in Sketchup to mount it on the Thing-O-Matic MK6 filament stand and wrote a gmax Maxscript to generate cutting paths.

The laser is powerful enough to cut through lightweight materials such as paper or thin vinyl, dark materials work much better than light materials. It can engrave a fair number of materials also. I’ve found that “self-stick” vinyl sticker blanks are great for creating stickers or stencils (tattoos!).

A 12 volt solenoid is used to block/unblock the laser light that hits the target surface. The solenoid is connected to the Thing-O-Matic’s Automated Build Platform output pins. Using a solenoid to block the laser light is necessary because there is no way to programmatically turn on or off the laser that I’m using. You need to block the light between shapes or you’ll have burn marks between the shapes.

Unfortunately you are on your own for hooking up your own laser light blocker solution. My solenoid solution is pretty hacked together but is functional enough to get the job done. It’s simply a piece of duct tape attached to a wire connected to the solenoid plunger.

Laser cutting in action:

Explaining how to use Gmax to create cutting paths:

You can download gmax from here (free):

The 1 watt S3 Artic Spyder laser from ($300 USD): This laser is blue UV laser and is not a toy, it will blind you faster than you can say, "Hey, will this thing blind me?"

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