Hobbyist CNC Engraving & Laser Etching

I have always been captivated by the precision and automation of CNC technology. Perhaps this is because I grew up around large industrial grade CNC machines, perhaps it is related to my love of automation in the IT infrastructure and platform engineering world.  This past fall though, I came across a cheap 3 Axis DIY CNC engraver and laser and saw an opportunity for some hands-on learning and exploration.

Through this project, I engraved several Paradigm Hyperloop logos with varying degrees of success.

As a result, I learned the basics of G-Code, the instruction based code to control CNC machines. Some basic CAM software, and a lot about stepper motors, machine calibration, probes, and leveling. Most importantly though, I got a glimpse of how hard the world of automated manufacturing really is, something I will keep in mind in the years ahead.

Testing the laser on paper printing the Paradigm logo

I have plans to manufacture a couple basic 2-layer Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) in the near future with this machine in an effort to feel first hand to the painful process of manufacturing PCBs.  Thankfully, prototype PCBs are very affordable nowadays so this will be limited to an exercise and nothing more.