DIY Laser/XY Gantry

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RussleH and 'RepRap' Matt (talk) took a look at the work is of the IMP Pick and Place at Ciseco

Locking a magnetic tape linear encoders, simlar to used on the PnP
This can give very high accuracy position feed back and at high speed



  • Minimum working area 600mm x 900mm


  • 1000m/s for scan (X axis)
  • 500mm/s for Y axis


  • 0.01mm

Type of Gantry

Possible driver systems

  • Fixed motor and looped belt to carriage
  • Carriage mounted motor and fixed belt
  • fixed motor driving a leadscrew
  • fixed motor driving a ballscrew

Most lower cost laser cutters use belt drives.

Most larger machines use ball screws. Here are notes on the two ideas:

Belt Drive


  • Low cost
  • Standard
  • Motors can be smaller (less inertia)
  • Most low cost and DIY lasers use this method


  • Precision will get worse (belt wear)
  • Not repeatable precision (belts will stretch if moving fast)

Belt Drive costs

  • XY gantry for DIY laser is available here for $950 (=£590). The cutting size/ working area is 900mm x 600mm. This comes with 2 x 5A motors.

Ball Screws

More information on ball screws can be found here:


  • High precision
  • Repeatable precision for its whole lifetime
  • Used in commercial designs
  • Unusual and interesting - not been done for table top lasers before.


  • Need to build this with high precision
  • No DIY design available
  • Higher cost
  • Larger motors required (more inertia)

Ball Screw costs

These prices have come from Zapp Automation ( This is not necessarily the lowest cost.

Parts required include:

Ball screw 25mm diameter, 25mm Pitch:

  • 2 x 600mm @£6/100mm = £72
  • 1 x 900mm @£6/100mm = £54

End mounts:

  • 3 x floating 25mm diameter @£30 = £90
  • 3 x fixed 25mm diameter @£60 = £180

Ball Nuts:

  • 3 x R25-25A2-FSED @£75 = £225
  • 3 x Motor couplers @£10 = £30

Ground bar

  • 1 x 1m length @£1.20/100mm = £12
  • 1 x linear bearings = £4

Total cost = £667

Notes: Supplier of ball screws and parts:

Type of Motor

Motors for each of the above could be one of the following

  • DC motor
  • stepper motor
  • brushless servo motor